How Going Back to School Can Help Make Your Business More Successful

Education can be a valuable tool for business owners, especially for those who want to further their career, learn new skills, or improve the way they run their business.

Business professionals can choose from a wide range of programs including business management, marketing, accounting, human resource management, and finance. Most programs are offered in a traditional classroom setting, online, or a combination of both, making it much easier to accommodate the professional’s schedule and outside responsibilities.

Should You Go Back to School?

Making the decision to go back to school isn’t an easy one. Time spent in the classroom can take the focus off the business, not to mention the financial impact it can have with the rising costs of tuition and education related expenses. Marv Dumon, a writer for Investopedia.com, recommends asking yourself the following questions when considering whether or not to head back to business school:

       · How do I see myself spending my professional time?
       · Is a degree a requirement in my field to become successful?
     ·Are there other ways to gain specific knowledge without going back to school?

Once you’re able to answer these questions, your next step is choosing a program or course that can help you and your business succeed. Do you plan on changing careers altogether, or just want to add relevant skills to your repertoire? Does it make sense to obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree, or would it be more beneficial to take a few courses at a local community college?

Seattle Times writer Joyce Rosenberg recommends not only looking into traditional options like college or universities, but also trade organizations and classes offered by chambers of commerce.

Adding New Skills

Just like technology changes over time, so do the skills required to run a successful business. Even those who already hold a degree may find it useful to further their education, to fill gaps in their resume or take on new responsibilities.

Entrepreneur.com writer Adam Toren recommends three lessons worth going back to school for: design, search engine optimization, and web development. [Editor’s note: There are many others in different disciplines.] The Internet has become an important part in running a successful business, so learning new social media, web design, search engine optimization, and content creation skills can be beneficial for businesses with a presence on the Web. If you don’t already have a presence on the Internet, adding these skills to your arsenal can help get you started.

In addition to adding new skills, you’re also adding valuable industry connections by networking with like-minded students and professionals. These are connections you can take with you long after school has ended, opening the door to new business opportunities and professional relationships.

Obtaining a Degree

As reported by Investopedia, the 2013 edition of the Graduate Management Admission Council's MBA Alumni Perspectives Survey reported that alumni who had gone back to obtain an MBA in any program had reported a full return on their investment after just four years.

You’re not limited to an MBA or master’s degree, either. If you’ve never completed a degree, starting with an associate or bachelor’s degree related to your field could help you acquire the skills necessary to run a successful business.

Think of the areas you’ve struggled with and the courses you could take to enhance and refine your skills. You don’t necessarily need to complete a degree if it doesn’t help you in the long run. Enrolling in relevant courses at a community college, or auditing a class you’ve already taken can be a good start.

The nature of business is always changing, so it's worth staying up to date and ahead of the curve. Successful business owners are constantly refining their skills, challenging themselves, and learning new areas of their industry.

Business owners unsure of where to start can speak with a guidance counselor to discuss their motivation and goals.

Brian Flax is a freelance writer based out of the Washington, D.C., area. He is experienced in a variety of topics including technology, Internet applications, and business degree careers.


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