You don’t have to go to graduate school to be an entrepreneur. In fact, some of the greatest entrepreneurs didn’t even finish high school. But for those who regret not having taken business- related courses in university, do not fret. The diploma you now hold may actually help you on your way to being your own boss. To wit, here are 10 college courses you thought had nothing to do with entrepreneurship:
The scientific study of human mental functions and behaviors should be interesting to any entrepreneur who wants to improve his relationships with his business partners, clients and employees. Some schools abroad offer specialized courses in Business Psychology, which seeks to maximize the prime asset of any business: its people.
This seems to have no place in entrepreneurship, until one realizes that in literature one must study complex situations, multi-dimensional characters and examine subtext without seeing the big picture beforehand. Similarly, conducting business requires an entrepreneur to be able to calculate the risks and benefits of any action and to make high-pressure decisions; to do these things, one has to see through the lens of multiple outcomes.
This realm isn’t limited to the news writers, broadcasters and journalists of the world. Communication is crucial to business because a business is made up of people, who need to talk to each other to get things done. It’s also why Robert Kent, a former dean of the Harvard Business School, once said: “In business, communication is everything.” With the global economy and the complexity of the modern workplace, communication is even more important.
Economics isn’t the only part of business that deals with mathematics, which is the study of quantity, structure, space and change. Math is very much about confidence and being logical—the confidence in knowing what to do when and why, and the logic to treat each part of a process in the correct order and laying out the answer clearly. These are skills an entrepreneur must exhibit in business.
6. Music and Arts
Although creative people like musicians and artists are perceived as too quirky for business, they share a common guiding force with entrepreneurs: vision and “images of future possibilities,” according to Prof. Harry Nystrom of the Institute of Economics in Sweden. An entrepreneur, adds Nystrom, is seen “as a visionary activist, who is able to constructively handle the often conflicting demands of unplannable emerging situations.”
Students of this natural science know physics has many practical applications, and breakthroughs in physics often lead to new technologies and innovations. By becoming entrepreneurs, physicists would then have the skills to start new high-tech businesses and grow them successfully.
4. Political Science
Described as the science of “who gets what, when and how” by the late Prof. Harold Lasswell, “polsci” should be a natural fit for any entrepreneur, who has to wheel and deal with any number of people in the course of doing business. According to author J. C.Chaturvedy, political scientists, because oftheir training in analyzing issues, “can addvalue and expertise to corporations.”
3. Computer Science
Also called computing science, it’s not just the study of computers; rather, it’s the study of processes that create, describe and transform information. The American writer and computer scientist Peter J. Denning says that the fundamental question underlying this science is “what things can be efficiently automated?” It’s a question entrepreneurs also ask as they try to find ways to improve their business processes or create new ones.
2. Physical Education and Sports Science
As this field deals with applying scientific principles to improve sporting performance, sports science graduates who become entrepreneurs can apply the same logical thinking in boosting the performance of their own businesses—while observing that like humans, businesses also need to be flexible to deal with various challenges.
In a broad sense, education is how society hands down its aggregate knowledge, skills and values from one generation to the next. Its importance to the entrepreneur—who in his role as innovator is often out creating new things, teaching and passing on his knowledge—is that it keeps his hunger for learning. An entrepreneur’s mind should always be open to new ideas, or fresh ways of looking at old things.