Entrepreneurs often start with a dream, a prototype or both. The internet has made it much easier to sell products, services and content to anyone and everyone. You can find your niche or find a market for almost anything, but you can always do more to improve your business, and you can’t afford to miss opportunities if you want to stay ahead of the competition. An in-depth education on the business side of things may be just what you need. Here are 5 ways an advanced business degree could make you a better e-commerce entrepreneur.
Leaders are made, not born. The soft skills that are in demand can be taught in management programs like MBAs and DBAs. Returning to school will give you new information on how to handle complex and challenging situations.
It will also give you guidance on how to avoid modern HR landmines. You’ll cultivate a strategic outlook and the communication skills needed to get the buy-in of your team. You’ll also learn how to hire and cultivate middle managers, so you can focus on the overarching vision instead of trying to oversee a large number of frontline employees.
The traditional PhD program requires a thesis. A DBA dumps the thesis in favor of a capstone project that’s often more practical. The detailed research and analysis you could do may help you refine your marketing plan, identify under-served market niches, or create a plan for rolling out complementary products and services. This piece by Aston University Online explains the difference between the two.
This capstone project is much more advanced than what you might have learned in an MBA program. Move to a DBA, and you’ll review the material you may not have touched in years while learning from new, modern case studies. Know that you do not have to quit your job either; there are DBA programmes that you can take completely online, and you can focus on the topic you need to master to grow your business, whether it is international business, supply chain management or human resources.
Along the way, you’ll master:
That is aside from the area you choose to specialize in that you already know makes up for your current shortcomings. And the best thing is that you won’t have to leave your current position to do so.
Getting your degree online will allow you to get all the qualifications needed from the comfort of your own home to help you become a better E-commerce Entrepreneur. There is no need to commute to and from classes, and no need to be limited to one physical location. You’ll also learn how to use tools that will make you more efficient in your operation.
These programs usually use a variety of agile remote collaborative tools to allow you to interact seamlessly with the teaching staff and other students. This means that you’ll be able to integrate them in your business if you have been slow to go agile, or were having difficulty implementing agile solutions.
Sitting in class with other mid-career professionals is an amazing networking opportunity for any E-commerce Entrepreneur. They’ll be able to give you advice from their diverse experiences. More importantly, they can continue to do so after graduation.
You can ask them what companies they’d recommend when you want to outsource a key function, and they’ll provide recommendations for vetted suppliers. Whether you need a new vice president or financial controller, you could hire a former classmate or tap into the alumni network to find a qualified one quickly.
This is especially true when it comes to online programs. These tend to attract an even larger international audience and allow you to get introduced to a whole new set of perspectives. You also have the chance to meet people from different fields that could interest you. For instance, a lot of IT engineers decide to get an online business degree. This could not only give you some insights that you could apply in your business, but you may even find your next chief technology officer.
A professional network of professors, classmates and alumni can do much more than fill empty spaces in your team or refer those who can; they can be an invaluable support network. These are people you know you can trust with difficult business questions. They could help you:
Alternatively, you could find investors for your growing business or co-founders for your new venture among them. Some schools even provide special funding for current and former students. If you’re a business leader yourself, you’re now in the situation to guide other entrepreneurs, especially those who don’t have a college degree. This could be your way into senior management at a start-up. You could also find a mentor to guide you through the process of expanding your business.
It isn’t uncommon for a budding entrepreneur to have a degree unrelated to business. A restaurant owner may have gone to culinary school, while an MBA gave them a fundamental understanding of business. An engineer might move into consulting or construction, but an MBA taught them the basics of financial planning and human resources.
A DBA gives people in these situations a far deeper understanding of business - you learn how to do more than create a business plan that gets your line of credit approved; you learn how to create detailed business plans to grow your business; you don’t just add fifty more people, but outline how you’re going to expand into retail stores or get listed on various e-commerce sites; you’ll understand how to make detailed financial decisions and various funding methods available. Understanding the cash flow, costs, margins and risks involved reduces the risk of such an expansion.
In addition to crucial business skills, you’ll acquire all sorts of soft skills that you won’t be able to learn just anywhere. Some of the most important soft skills that you’ll need as an e-commerce entrepreneur are:
Communication in particular is one of the skills that a lot of people who are a e-commerce entrepreneur in this space tend to lack. Some are techies by nature and tend to be more on the introverted side. But according to Dr Muhammad Mahboob Ali, this is one of the most crucial skills any entrepreneur should have.
“Working on your communications skills, including being able to summarise complex ideas and read body language, is one of the single most important tools you can have if you want to be able to advance your business.”
And he is right; someone who is able to get their point across fast and in a concise way will always be able to have an advantage. They will have less difficulty rallying troops, and the ability to make sure that their vision is understood.
Problem-solving skills are also something that is extremely crucial in e-commerce. You might have to deal with constant chargeback issues or have issues with returns. You might have to rearrange your whole supply chain because of one or a handful of suppliers.
You also have to deal with product development and fix crucial issues such as delays, or prototype problems. Someone with great problem-solving skills will be able to adapt themselves and come with solutions that will allow the company to meet objectives without causing a panic.
You also have to be able to be a great team worker and help your employees work as a team. You have to be able to listen to other people, be able to assess your own strengths and weaknesses, and learn how to delegate.
You also have to be able to realize the value of your human capital and foster it. You have to be able to identify star players, leaders, and those that need to be cut.
This also requires that you have strong leadership qualities, which is something that is often also lacking in e-commerce and very difficult to master later on. You have to walk the fine line between dictating and collaboration. You have to be able to listen when comes the time to listen, and be able to make executive decisions. Being a great leader is also about being able to accept the consequences of your decisions, and own up to them.
No matter how large your business is, an advanced business education is an investment in its success for any e-commerce entrepreneur. You’ll gain access to the resources and knowledge you need to see your business become what you dreamed it would be.