Essential Business Classes for Future Business Owners: Top College Courses to Consider

Wondering how to become a business owner? Learn about the best courses for entrepreneurs in college.
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  • There are currently 32.5 million small businesses in the United States.
  • There are many benefits to owning your own business, but also numerous challenges.
  • Knowing the right classes to take can help you feel prepared to start a business.

According to the Small Business Administration, the United States is currently home to 32.5 million small businesses that employ nearly 47% of the American workforce. The top three industries for small businesses include healthcare and social assistance, accommodation and food services, and construction.

Owning your own business can be a great decision if you enjoy being your own boss, don't mind taking calculated risks, and have an idea that market research has proven viable. If you are thinking about going back to college for an entrepreneurship degree or just starting your educational journey, keep reading to learn about the benefits of being a small business owner and what classes to take.

Why Become a Business Owner?

With so many steps to business ownership, some individuals considering this path may wonder why they should pursue it. We look at four reasons below.

Be Your Own Boss

As a business owner, you get to call the shots. Rather than being supervised by another employee and being given a list of tasks and responsibilities, you decide how to spend your days and what projects you want to work on. Reporting only to yourself can add pressure, but also offer substantial professional freedom.

Choose Your Industry

Many skills transfer across industries, and business owners get to decide how to position themselves and their companies. Whether you are a software engineer looking to exclusively work with hospitals or a painter with a passion for historic preservation, you get to decide how to use your talents and time.

Connect With Clients and Staff

If you enjoy working with people, becoming a business owner can provide the freedom to spend your time connecting with clients and staff. Finding clients is one of the most important parts of entrepreneurship, as is hiring professionals who understand your vision and align with your standards of work.

Big Risks and Big Rewards

It's no secret that owning a business can be scary, as the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored. But without big risks, you cannot expect to reap big rewards. Taking calculated chances is a big part of entrepreneurship, but smart choices can pay off in significant ways.

Popular Online Business Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What College Courses Are Useful for Aspiring Business Owners?

Introduction to Entrepreneurship

Usually a core requirement taken in the first semester of studies, intro to entrepreneurship provides the foundation on which you can build advanced skills and knowledge. Topics commonly covered include opportunity recognition, ingenuity and innovation, the entrepreneur's role in society, and entrepreneurial characteristics.

Human Resource Management

A great elective for aspiring business owners who plan to hire employees in the future, human resource management instills the skills needed to attract talent, manage the hiring process, onboard new workers, and provide innovative training and incentives. Other topics covered include compensation and benefits, performance reviews, and legal considerations.

Social Entrepreneurship

A core class, social entrepreneurship considers the importance of entrepreneurs using their business to affect social good. Whether functioning as a for-profit or nonprofit business owner, entrepreneurs can — and should — give back to their communities to address social problems and create good in their neighborhoods.

Market Research

Before launching any venture, future business owners must conduct market research to understand their client base and profit potential. This course looks at how to gather and analyze market research data to make data-driven decisions. Students consider both quantitative and qualitative methods of research.

New Venture Planning

Often a core class, new venture planning helps students flesh out their business ideas and strategically consider and plan for any obstacles they may face — especially in uncertain environments. Students also learn how to position their businesses within competitive markets to stand out.

Digital and Social Media Marketing

Because so much of a business's marketing strategy unfolds online these days, this elective course provides an introduction to effective digital and social media marketing strategies. Students learn how to use various platforms based on their audiences and outcomes, while also learning how to leverage analytics and user insights.

International Entrepreneurship

Designed for students planning to open a business with global connections, this required course considers topics they will need to understand before launching. In addition to considering cultural and social factors, students dig into topics around international currency and markets, staffing and management, and pricing.

Business Law

Although offered as an elective, many students decide to take this course to gather essential knowledge around topics such as crafting contracts, handling the sale of goods and services, and creating secured transactions. This course proves especially valuable if you plan to run a national or international business.

Entrepreneurial Finance

A required course, entrepreneurial finance considers the unique factors affecting new venture valuation, securing investors, approaching venture capitalists, and managing governance. For established business owners, the course looks at traditional finance and accounting knowledge required to run a business successfully.

Frequently Asked Questions About Courses for Aspiring Business Owners

What should I major in to start my own business?

The answer to this question depends on several factors. If you plan to start a business that requires a particular skill, such as carpentry, content creation, or book publishing, you may be best served by a degree focused on building those specialized talents (e.g., construction management, journalism, or English literature).

If your business interests are more general — or you plan to hire specialized professionals trained in specific areas and instead manage the business aspects of the company — some great degree options include business administration, finance, marketing, or economics.

What to study if you want to become an entrepreneur?

If you know that you want to become an entrepreneur, pursuing a bachelor's in entrepreneurship is a great place to start. Many colleges now offer these programs, and some allow students to minor in complimentary topics related to their future venture.

These programs combine classes specific to entrepreneurs with traditional business classes to provide a well-rounded and comprehensive education. Some students may also consider earning an MBA to start their business, especially if their undergraduate degree is in a non-business subject.

What majors make the most money?

According to hiring site Monster, students who study business are the sixth highest earners with starting salaries of approximately $58,870 as of 2021. Other majors offering excellent pay potential include computer science, engineering, math and sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

As a business owner, your earning potential is up to you. While possessing a full understanding of business and entrepreneurial principles is key to success, you ultimately control your professional opportunities.

What are the best courses for business?

The best courses for business can vary based on the school you attend, the goals you set, and the electives you take. Understanding foundational business principles around opportunity recognition and strategy are key, as are courses focused on financial management and accounting for small businesses.

As a future small business owner, other courses you should consider taking include digital and social media marketing, entrepreneurial financing, new venture development, business law, and sales management.

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