How Studying Entrepreneurship Can Prepare You to Run Your Own Business

by Tobin Perry

Entrepreneurship has become a thriving field in recent years, particularly among those under the age of 25. In fact, according to a Nielsen study cited by Forbes, 54 percent of Gen Z respondents (those born between 1997 and 2012) were interested in starting their own businesses.

Successful entrepreneurship is far from guaranteed. Fundera reported that only about half of new businesses succeed, and 20 percent fizzle out before their first birthdays. However, studying entrepreneurship in a university environment can give students a much-needed opportunity to thrive as they launch their careers.

If you’re one of the individuals hoping to one day start your own business, you’ll need more than a good idea and the drive to succeed to become successful.

Skills You Need to Thrive as an Entrepreneur

No one is born an entrepreneur. Certainly, some people are born with a specific mix of gifts and talents that lend themselves to effectively start and grow a business. But having the right gifts won’t help if you don’t have the skills you need to thrive! It’s important to focus on rounding out your strengths.

Here are a few skills you’ll need to develop to be a successful entrepreneur:

  • Strategy development. Whenever you start a business, you must be able to create a road map for your company’s future. No one else will do it for you. Your plan should include everything from your business concept, finances, timeline, etc.—all items you’ll need to get funding and develop a market for your goods and services.
  • Dedication. You’ll likely encounter all kinds of roadblocks when you try to start a company. Entrepreneurs who can’t plow through (or maneuver around) those obstacles likely won’t succeed. “Excitement and vision are crucial, but the successful entrepreneur understands that the work gets done through consistent perseverance,” said Todd Pheifer, Ed.D., an assistant professor in Azusa Pacific University’s School of Business and Management.
  • Adaptability. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the significance of adaptability for any business owner, but the necessity is hardly just a product of 2020. New businesses must navigate a variety of market changes all the time. Pheifer also noted that adaptability is about both attitude and the ability to “recognize that so-called standard business practices are always in flux.”

The good news is that all three of these skills—and others important to entrepreneurs—can be learned. Studying entrepreneurship in college can help students get prospective new businesses off the ground and thriving. But the right educational experience isn’t just about knowledge acquisition.

“Change is constant, and while this can require us to constantly update our sense of normalcy, transformative development can be incredibly exciting,” Pheifer said. “Education is partially about knowledge acquisition and skill-building, but it is also about developing the ability to research, ask questions, and anticipate new trends. School does not end when the student walks across the stage at graduation. Learning is a lifelong process.”

How APU Develops Successful Entrepreneurs

With a focus specifically on entrepreneurship, APU can give students a valuable headstart when preparing for a career as an entrepreneur.

“APU’s entrepreneurship major provides a foundation for students interested in starting their own businesses,” said Roxanne Helm-Stevens, DBA, interim dean and professor in APU’s School of Business and Management.

Helm-Stevens described the school’s entrepreneurship program as a hands-on opportunity to develop (and hone) the necessary skills for starting a business. Through their education, students create a business plan as they’re learning to fund, build, promote, and manage their businesses. Then, they get the opportunity to pitch their businesses in a “Shark Tank” type of presentation.

“In addition to learning how to start and build a business, APU’s entrepreneurship major also helps students learn to apply their creativity and energy to a business idea, and equips students in negotiation strategies,” Helm-Stevens said.

Students can even use their minor concentrations—particularly those in marketing, accounting, or finance—to level up their entrepreneurship skills. For example, a student’s marketing minor can help them learn about e-commerce and digital marketing skills they’ll need to thrive. For finance minors, Helms-Stevens said the course of study provides the necessary foundation for fundraising. And the accounting minor can effectively train students in tracking both expenses and revenue.

Ultimately, entrepreneurship is about solving problems as efficiently and creatively as possible while working toward an individual goal.

Curious to learn more about the entrepreneurship major offered at Azusa Pacific University? Explore the School of Business and Management to get a closer look at available courses and graduate degree paths.