The great secret has finally been let out: You don’t need a college degree get started in business. But of course, it can sure help you stay in business. One of the most striking trends of the last few decades is how decidedly easy it has become for someone to get very wealthy before—and occasionally without--completing a college degree. The success stories are numerous and impressive, but they still leave some would-be entrepreneurs hesitant about taking the plunge.
It’s time for them to make a splash. While traditional education is the only way to get certain skills—no one wants to be treated by a self-trained physician—the school of life, coupled with just plain smarts, remains a reliable teacher. Once they’ve made the spark, they can get the education to fan the flames.
For many, opportunities have presented themselves prior to the completion of a college degree. For others, they completed a degree in an unrelated field and chased their star in something else. These entrepreneurs are well-served today to pursue their idea and work toward a bachelor's of business administration degree online to ensure their sustained success. Stories of a few of those innovators follow.
Technology That Outruns Education
Who studied automotive technology before Henry Ford rolled out his first car? Which universities were offering that as a course of study? Nobody, because the technology was running on a time frame that was far too fast for curricula and courses of study to be developed.
Ford was a natural with tinkering from an early age, becoming an accomplished watch repairman before working in machining and steam power. His development of the automobile into a mass-produced and affordable machine was borne from these skills. Before his business went galactic, he did study bookkeeping, but he only had books to keep because of his mechanical aptitude.
And the newest ideas are those with the least competition. Ford didn’t have to combat General Motors or Fiat. He was paving the way for them, and as is often the case, the first on the scene makes the biggest fortune.
Mark Zuckerberg was just trying to communicate with college friends when he assembled Facebook. In time, their friends from off campus wanted to be involved, and before long…well, you know what the thing has become.
The reason Zuckerberg’s idea succeeded was not that he predicted the millions who would be queued up to share photos of their dog asleep beside their child. It was because he was willing to let it grow when it clearly wanted to. Had he thwarted its development in an attempt to confine it to Harvard, it would have been known only there and somebody else would have formulated another idea to make the billions that instead came his way.
The lesson is simple: When you’re innovative in any way and find something starting to get a foothold, let it climb. As long as its trajectory is upward, you are building value in the product. Had Zuckerberg chosen to do something else just as Facebook exploded, he could have liquidated it and still made a fortune. If at some point your project becomes more than you want to deal with, sell it. But don’t cut off the flower before it blooms.
New York’s Lori Cheek came up with a simple idea: Let single people register an online profile, just as they do on many dating sites, and then give them cards with an access code for the profile. When they meet someone intriguing, they hand over one of the cards. It’s called getting “Cheek’d”, and it has landed Cheek herself on Fox Business News and made quite a splash amongst lonely folks in the Big Apple and beyond.
How did it succeed? Mainly because Cheek marketed the heck out of it, utilizing social media in combination with traditional methods to get the kick-start that the project needed. As more and more singles registered, those who were “Cheek’d” soon found they needed to register as well in order to stay in the game. Critical mass was achieved, and the project took flight.
Cheek has a college degree—in architecture. And she most certainly has built something, but it was through common-sense business savvy. Depending on where the project goes, she can always earn a bachelor of business administration degree online to help handle her enterprise, but it worked because she didn’t wager on anyone else’s help and worked her idea intensively and without relenting.