Archive for: May 2014

Do You Really Even Need a Degree to Start Your Own Business?

collegedegree

Since at least the end of World War II, conventional wisdom has held that a college degree is the ticket to getting ahead. Over the years, the post-secondary education industry has exploded in size and scope. Unfortunately, a college degree has lost some of its luster as the value proposition has become less attractive. The question many youngsters are asking themselves is whether a college degree is necessary to start a business. Here are five compelling reasons why it’s not.

Degrees Aren’t About Knowledge

One of the biggest misconceptions regarding college is that it’s about learning new things. What college really demonstrates to potential employers is that you’ve got the drive and commitment to see a project through to the end. It proves that you can at least meet deadlines and work with others to accomplish a goal. You don’t need to attend college and rack up thousands in debt to learn how to stick to a schedule.

Businesses Require Risk-Taking

If you plan on being an employee for the rest of your life, college is probably a good idea. After all, you’ll need to get that piece of paper to get your foot in the door at your first real job. However, academia doesn’t really teach or encourage a risk-taking attitude, which is a critical attribute of any successful entrepreneur. Getting a college degree won’t show you how to be proactive or make hard decisions.

Making B2B Contacts Is Vital

One of the most important skills to acquire if you plan on starting your own business is the ability to effectively network. Specifically, successful entrepreneurs need to make connections with other business owners. While college can be a great way to make professional contacts, you’re missing out on four years of making contacts with actual business owners. By starting a business right out of high school, you’re getting a head-start on professional networking.

The Web Is a Free College

If you need to acquire a particular skill or flesh out your knowledge of a specific topic, you don’t have to sign up for a college course. Rather than taking out a loan to get a degree, you can use topnotch online resources like Khan Academy or MIT OpenCourseWare to educate yourself for free. With the sum total of human knowledge available on the web, traditional undergraduate studies are rapidly becoming obsolete.

Entrepreneurship Doesn’t Have a Manual

The most powerful reason to skip college if want to start a business is that it promotes a mindset that’s toxic to entrepreneurship. Simply put, graduates are inculcated with the idea that there’s a “right” or a “wrong” way to do things. In other words, they’re used to following a prescribed track. For most business owners, there is no road map for success. You need to roll with the punches and improvise as you go.

The Toughest Nut to Crack

A college degree has never been a prerequisite of entrepreneurial success. Many of the biggest companies in recent history were launched by college dropouts. The hardest thing about starting a successful business is letting go of your fear of failure. Mitigating the risks of failure when starting a business is clutch. The key is to make sure that you’re able to get back up when inevitable failures occur on the path to success.

Is the BYOD Movement Unfair To Lower Income Employees?

devices

Bring your own device (BYOD) is a workplace policy that encourages employees to access work systems and information on their own personal devices. Typically this includes laptops, tablets, mobile phones or desktop computers. The movement began as an opportunity for workers to use their own devices which they were familiar with and allow greater access to company information to increase convenience and productivity. Slowly, however, there is a growing concern that these policies may become standard and employers could begin forcing their employees to comply with BYOD and use their own devices for work everyday. This is a dangerous policy, and one that could potentially harm lower income employees.

Expensive

The obvious reason this could be unfair to lower income employees is because it forces them to invest in technology they cannot comfortably afford. Desktop computers are much more cost-effective than laptops but cannot easily be transported to and from work each day. Using personal devices for work will also cause greater wear and tear on an employees personal device, which could lead them to be forced to pay out of pocket for repairs or replacement devices sooner than otherwise planned. It is also likely that employees will be forced to own a device from a short list of pre-approved phones, laptops and tablets. This could force lower income employees who could not afford the latest and greatest to upgrade their equipment immediately to something outside of their price range. It would also cause low income employees who cannot afford multiple devices to be forced into using a device they would not otherwise choose for their personal device since they are pigeon-holed into owning a device supported by their company. Many employees may not be able to afford smart phones, which have become more commonplace, but are still much more expensive than their basic counterparts. Even if an employee is able to afford a smartphone, having to do a great amount of work on them may require them to upgrade their data plan and raise their monthly bill. A $20 or $30 a month increase doesn’t seem like a great deal but for employees on a strict budget it could cause undue stress.

Potential Disadvantages

In a company where BYOD isn’t mandatory but encouraged there are still potential disadvantages for lower income employees. Employees who cannot upgrade to top of the line equipment will be at a disadvantage to their work counterparts and could be forced to work on inferior equipment which could limited their productivity. Without access to devices like tablets and state of the art smart phones they will also be at a significant disadvantage since working remote from home and checking in while on the go will be much more difficult for them. It is quite possible, if not likely, that such employees will find themselves much less productive overall compared to their counterparts who can afford such technologies. There are many benefits to the bring your own device movement and a company that can properly implement and manage it will be able to provide its employees with greater convenience and opportunities for productivity. It is critical, however, to make sure they do not alienate their low income employees during the process, and that could prove a tricky task for even the most savvy company.