There are few American success stories as inspiring as those of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. They started with literally nothing and broke into the corporate world with products that have had billion-dollar impacts. They are the models to whom many startup entrepreneurs look for inspiration, particularly when they want to strike out on their own without completing college. But before they take that step, they need to understand why Gates and Jobs had very different outcomes than can be expected today.
Today’s tech entrepreneur faces a very steep learning curve, and no matter how good you are at building apps or soldering connections, there is plenty for a college or university to offer you. So many people point to Apple and Microsoft as an example of how a bachelor’s degree isn’t necessary for phenomenal success and wealth, but the fact is that those are the outliers. The business landscape is dotted with the carcasses of thousands more who didn’t pull it off.
In addition, there is a whole lot of calendar between those guys and today’s date. Jobs, Gates, and the like didn’t have to study the technology. In large part, they were inventing it. Computer science was a nascent field that was scarcely understood by the professors. It’s a different world now.
Many businesses fail not because they offer a poor product, but because the proprietors don’t know to manage a business. Best steaks in town, worst management in town. They make a lot of fundamental errors, like poor hiring decisions, unrealistic pricing, and poor marketing. They don’t keep tight reins on business vs. personal expenses, and because they’re the boss, they don’t always have the discipline to work enough hours. In general, they just don’t know what they’re getting into.
While many of these traits are just inborn characteristics that can’t be taught, others can best be learned through formal education. And many entrepreneurs may choose to make a return trip to college for this component of their education, after falling on their faces with the assumption that a good product or service guarantees success. That is why Philadelphia MBA programs and similar degrees offer a variety of options including online courses as well as specializations in health care administration and strategic leadership management.
Our heroes of the 1970’s and 1980’s also had a distinct advantage in that the hardware was more accessible to them. For all the power you hold in your palm with a smartphone, you need much more for most business operations. Getting sufficient speed and functionality requires experience on your part, and if you’ve borrowed thousands to get the equipment, you need to be proficient with it before the first box ships to you.
This is where college can help. Having access to top-flight stuff and a tech-centered institution gives you the chance to learn the violin without buying a Stradivarius. This way, you can be ready to start generating revenue when you take out the loans for the equipment.