Entrepreneurship matters. It is crucial to fostering innovation and has been key to fueling economic growth in the United States. Seen as symbolic of the American Dream, entrepreneurship inspires a sense of optimism among Americans. While there have been dramatic increases in startup activity across the country, women made up only 36.8% of all new entrepreneurs in 2015.
Despite this underrepresentation in the world of business, research has shown that women make great entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs, for example, are concerned about taking “fool-hardy” risks that may endanger their employees — making them empathetic leaders — and have a greater desire to become serial entrepreneurs than men.
While successful entrepreneurs are diverse, they do have several traits in common: they are determined, passionate, great networkers, and skilled at money management. Here are the top five degrees that will equip aspiring women entrepreneurs with the skills they need to help their dreams become a reality.
A degree in economics can be a powerful tool for an aspiring female entrepreneur. The program will expose you to all aspects of economic theory and equip you with a greater understanding of mathematics. By the time you graduate with your degree, you will have shaped your problem-solving abilities to perfection.
Economists are expected to conduct extensive research and analysis of economic data, trends, and issues. Training in these areas will give you a more holistic view of the business economy and help you make calculated decisions regarding your small business.
Roger Blair, Chair of the Economics Department at the University of Florida, considers an economics degree beneficial for potential entrepreneurs because it helps them understand how to make smart marketing decisions and encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to analyze the payoffs between benefits and costs.
“Entrepreneurs are people that come up with ideas and the execution as well,” he said. “You can’t teach ideas, but as far as the implementation is concerned this often requires decisions that involve trade off.”
A master in business administration is one of the most popular and marketable graduate degrees — and for good reason. As an MBA candidate, expect to learn about business management theory, which can help you think critically about the concepts needed for a successful business plan.
Daren Upham, Vice President of Enrollment and Admissions at Western Governors University, said, “WGU’s MBA programs provide students with real-world knowledge and skills that prepare them to be successful in their careers and offer the flexibility that is essential to the needs of today’s working women in business.”
Furthermore, an MBA program will teach you various strategies for running your business and offers insight into the benefits and disadvantages of each. Perhaps most importantly, though, an MBA program will introduce you to like-minded individuals and provide you with your first networking contacts — a critical, and sometimes elusive, part of the business model.
Follow in the footsteps of women entrepreneurs like Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, and pursue a degree in computer science to help bring your small-business idea to fruition. A bachelor’s in computer science will teach you more than just programming: you will learn about algorithms and data structures, programming languages, and operating systems, all of which can help you create a successful business.
In addition to the technical skills you will acquire as a computer science student, further honing your logical thinking skills and ability to learn will be key to becoming a successful entrepreneur. As an added bonus, a computer science degree will teach you to create and maintain your small business’s website with a sound understanding of data structures and Web design.
Communication skills are at the heart of business and are essential for any aspiring entrepreneur. There will be countless meetings with prospective investors and clients who all expect to be impressed. Without the right communication skills, it will be difficult to establish relationships, whether it be during a networking event, a business meeting, or a product pitch.
A degree in communication studies will teach you the fundamentals of marketing and media and will polish your presentation skills. You can choose courses that will give you an understanding of important nonverbal cues as well as organizational communication, which will enable you to be a fair and effective leader.
Though often overlooked as a necessary skill for business owners, writing is actually a key component of every great business. Businesses benefit greatly from the skills of a professional writer with the ability to present their ideas articulately and persuasively. Throughout the course of an English program, expect to learn how to research and analyze information — and how to edit your own work.
By providing you with a strong foundation in carrying out research, articulating difficult ideas, and thinking critically, a degree in English will serve you well in the world of entrepreneurship. As a graduate, you’ll be able to draft up business plans and write compelling marketing materials for your business.
Frontier Communications has a proud history of supporting women entrepreneurs. Maggie Wilderotter was CEO of Frontier Communications for 10 years and now serves as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors.