Over 3.6 million U.S. businesses had between one and four employees in 2008, the U.S. Census reports. Training in entrepreneurship can help want-to-be business owners and "idea" men and women join the large number of entrepreneurs and small business owners in the U.S.
Entrepreneurship students can build on any level of professional experience with online business degrees. From certification programs to advanced degrees, career goals can dictate how much education an individual pursues.
With a certificate, students can add a few months of specialized training to current education and experience. For entrepreneurs looking to add business skills to existing knowledge in another area, online entrepreneurship certificates are a convenient way to learn practical skills such as writing a business plan or finding start-up funding.
For a more in-depth perspective, an MBA with a focus on entrepreneurship can allow students to customize the popular master's degree to the demands of starting a small business. Bachelor's and master's degrees in entrepreneurship include training in a wide range of business fundamentals, including accounting, business law and marketing.
What to Expect in an Entrepreneurship Program
Entrepreneurship degrees offer general business training with a special focus on small and growing businesses. From franchises to family stores, small businesses come in different forms, and entrepreneurship degree programs respond with a range of coursework:
- Entrepreneurial finance
- Managing the family business
- Technology entrepreneurship
- Franchising perspectives
- Social entrepreneurship
The above are just a sampling of courses students may find in entrepreneurship degree programs. Students may pick among courses and electives to further personalize the degree to their needs.
Online Entrepreneurship Degrees
Earning an entrepreneurship degree online comes with particular benefits for students. Chiefly, the flexible online format allows students to keep a full-time job while studying, which helps to build networks and business experience. Students also get a chance to gain more familiarity with web-based technology, which can be important when the time comes to take their business online.
Hard work and dedication are just the beginning of succeeding in business. Entrepreneurs should be willing to make sacrifices -- according to the New York Times, small business owners generally pay themselves 70 to 80 percent of what they would earn in the open market. But the rewards of growing a business from idea to profitable company can more than make up for the pay cut.
Popular Industries for Small Business
While entrepreneurs can be found in all industries, there are a few where the option is particularly popular. The U.S. Census reports in 2008 that the following industries were composed of 90 percent or more small businesses (20 employees or less):
- Real estate
- Professional services
Retail trade is itself a booming industry, with 693,137 firms in 2008, according to the U.S. Census.
Entrepreneurship at a glance:
- Business landscape: The number of U.S. businesses with four or fewer employees was 3,624,614 in 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau
- Common small business industries: agriculture, construction, retail, finance, real estate, professional services
- Salary range: the U.S. Census Bureau reports entrepreneurs generally make 70 to 80 percent of what they would make working for a larger corporation.
Online Master's Degrees in Entrepreneurship
Students who want to master the creative and innovative processes involved with conceptualizing new business models often choose to work toward an online master's degree in entrepreneurship. As students immerse themselves in the creative process, they can learn how to turn a creative idea into a successful business while considering factors such as profitability, marketability, and sustainability. Students in this field may be able to choose from entrepreneurship degree programs that ultimately lead to several different degrees, including a Master of Science in Entrepreneurship, a Master of Applied Innovation and Entrepreneurship, or a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. Core curriculum can teach students to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset while mastering principles of accounting, marketing, economics, and finance.
What Does a Master's Degree in Entrepreneurship Entail?
Full-time students may be able to earn an entrepreneurship master's degree in as little as 24 months, depending on the school. Coursework typically focuses on the conceptualization of ideas, business plan writing, and business management fundamentals. Students can learn how to create a successful business model and harness the marketing and advertising techniques that go into a successful business. In addition to inspiring innovation and creativity, entrepreneurship degree programs may emphasize the legal and ethical aspects of running your own business. Examples of courses students may take include:
- Entrepreneurial Marketing: This course offers students the opportunity to study the outcome of creating an effective marketing plan. Students can learn the value of demographic and market research and how the appropriate data can be used to tailor a marketing plan to prospective customers. Instructors may use case studies in order to provide students with real-world examples. For instance, students may be asked to evaluate marketing plans that have performed poorly in order to determine why they failed and what the business could have done differently.
- Legal and Ethical Concepts: Students in this course can learn to properly evaluate business decisions while considering potential consequences down the line. Coursework often emphasizes the legality of business issues while presenting students with the probability of ethical dilemmas while running their own business. Students may also examine the financial responsibilities of running their own business and learn strategies for the ethical treatment of vendors, suppliers, employees, and customers.
- Accounting: Students in this course typically learn basic accounting methods and principles. They can master accounting methods using an income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. Topics may also include accounting changes and errors, transactions analyses, and cost management.
Students working toward an online master's degree in entrepreneurship are often required to take core curriculum courses in accounting, economics, marketing, and management. They may also select elective courses that align with their interests. For example, a student who is interested in creating an international enterprise or business may want to take an elective course in international trade in order to gain a basic understanding of business acumen among nations.
Students interested in starting an online business may also want to select electives accordingly. For instance, they may want to take an elective in internet marketing, social networking, or online business strategy.
Career Outlook for Graduates of Master's Degree Programs in Entrepreneurship
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (the BLS), entrepreneurship plays a vital role in our economy by providing jobs that are essential to the labor market. As businesses grow more competitive and expand abroad, they may need qualified professionals to assist in their growth.
Students who earn master's degrees in entrepreneurship may choose to put their skills to use at an existing business before starting their own. Entrepreneurs who specialize on the financial side of business could choose to begin a career as a financial analyst. According to the BLS, employment for financial analysts is expected to grow 16 percent nationally from 2012 to 2022. Graduates who are interested in improving business efficiency may choose a career as a management analyst. Also called management consultants, these professionals thoroughly analyze businesses in order to improve processes and cut costs. According to the BLS, employment of management analysts will likely grow 19 percent between 2012 and 2022. This growth is expected to take place as businesses struggle to stay competitive in a global business environment.
"Entrepreneurship and the U.S. Economy," Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/bdm/entrepreneurship/entrepreneurship.htm
"Financial Analysts," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-2015 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm
"Management Analysts," Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-2015 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm