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  • John Dunbar

Business Ownership: It's Not Just for College Grads

Perhaps you're thinking about becoming a business owner, but you're worried that you don't have the right credentials. You might think that because you don't have a degree in business or entrepreneurship, you don't have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Well, we're here to disabuse you of that thought.

to female colleagues talking in an office space

You don't need a degree to become a successful entrepreneur. In fact, some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world don't have any formal education at all. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg are just a few examples of highly successful entrepreneurs who didn't finish college. That said, entrepreneurship still takes a lot of sacrifice and determination. And with the following tips from Making a Millennial Millionaire, you can make it happen.

Hard Work Is Key

One thing that all successful entrepreneurs have in common is hard work. FasterCapital points out that becoming a successful entrepreneur takes a lot of dedication and long hours. If you're not willing to put in the hard work, then becoming an entrepreneur probably isn't for you. There are no shortcuts to success; you have to be willing to put in the time and effort to make your dreams a reality.

An Idea is Essential

Another important factor in becoming a successful entrepreneur is choosing the right business type. Not every business type is conducive to success, or is correctly tax advantaged. Some businesses are simply more difficult to get off the ground than others.

For example, retail businesses can be very difficult to get started because of the high overhead costs involved, as well as strict inventory management, real estate costs, etc. Technology startups are often much easier to get off the ground because they require less capital investment, but finding a specific niche can be tough. When choosing a business type, it's important to do your research and choose an industry that you understand well and that has good potential for growth.

Prepare a Business Plan

A business plan is basically a blueprint of your business that should serve internally as your guiding light/playbook, and should externally represent where your company is headed. It should outline your goals and objectives, as well as your strategies for achieving them. Your business plan should also include information on your target market and your competition. Creating a comprehensive and well-thought-out business plan is essential for any aspiring entrepreneur. If you need help, check out resources through the Small Business Administration.

Part of your business plan will be a marketing strategy, which includes setting up a website. You’ll want to design and develop a site that not only attracts potential customers and clientele but keeps them coming back. When seeking out design examples with all the necessary elements, this page deserves a look for some inspiration, whether you’re doing the site yourself or farming it out to professionals.

Raising the Capital

Without funding, it will be very difficult to get your business off the ground. While we would recommend bootstrapping your company for as long as possible (that's how we got up and running!), sometimes funding like debt or equity is necessary.

UpCounsel notes that there are several methods for funding your startup, including venture capitalists, angel investors, and loans from family and friends. Grants are also an option depending on your industry and business. It's important to do your research and choose the funding option that's right for your particular situation.

In order to save money, you can take advantage of free online resources that can help you run your business. Do you have a penchant for programming or would like to learn how to code to, for example, create your own apps? If you'd like to save funds by doing your own coding, you can explore sites like Code Profs with expert tips and help for troubleshooting specific coding and error messages.

Get Organized

As a business owner, you'll be responsible for keeping track of all sorts of different information — from financial records to customer data — so it's important to keep everything organized from the very beginning.

Designate an organizational system that works for you. Typically, digitizing your files is the best choice. This ensures you have less paperwork to rifle through and easier access to files. PDFs are great here too. With this preferred file format, you can condense files into smaller files, which are great for sending, and you can also split files up, say if you're trying to design a catalog or want to pull certain pages from certain documents.

This also includes finding the right partners. You'll likely need an accountant that can help with keeping your books straight, as well as potentially a lawyer to help draw up contracts, articles of incorporation and more. Getting a small business up and running takes a village.

Choose the Right Tech

Technology can be both a friend and foe when starting up a new business. On one hand, technology can help simplify many aspects of running a business. On the other hand, technology can also be expensive and complicated. When choosing technology, look to strike a balance between functionality and affordability. Also, be sure to fully understand how to use any tech you pay for so you can make the most of your investment.

Working with a Mentor

Having someone to guide you through the process of starting up your own business can be invaluable. A mentor can offer advice, provide support, and give you access to their own network of contacts. If possible, try to find a mentor who's already been through the process of starting their own business. This way, they'll be able to offer first-hand advice on what does — and doesn't — work. Mentorship programs are offered by many colleges, universities, incubators, accelerators, and chambers of commerce.


While there are many things that go into becoming a successful entrepreneur, having a college degree is not one of them. With hard work, persistence, designing an awesome website, commitment, and perhaps even learning how to code, anyone can achieve their entrepreneurial dreams. So don't let a lack of formal education hold you back!


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