There’s no formal education requirement to start a business in Canada. The country boasts successful entrepreneurs who barely scraped through secondary school, others who have advanced degrees, and everything between. In business, your vision and your relationship-building skills often take you further than the letters that follow your name. That isn’t to denigrate higher education, though; some business owners can benefit greatly by going back to school.
Degrees and Certifications
Perhaps you want to expand your business into a new field that requires a certain degree or certification to do business legally. For instance, if you have a tax or bookkeeping firm, you may want to offer a particular service that requires a specialized designation. Analyze the market to determine if the long-term benefits of a degree or certification outweigh the short-term costs of returning to school. Alternatively, you might consider adding a new team member, one who has already obtained the degree or certification needed, and putting that person in charge of the new venture.
Networking With Other Professionals
Institutes of higher education confer benefits beyond learning and earning degrees — they’re also great places to network with other professionals and make connections. You’ll likely meet other students in your area of study who own or manage businesses in tangential fields. They’re not direct competitors, so you can refer business back and forth and bounce ideas off one another. That said, you can get many of the same benefits joining a local networking group, and probably for a much lower cost. However, if you need a degree or certification to boost your career, the networking opportunities are a definite fringe benefit of schooling.
Higher education is pricey in Canada, and the costs are still climbing. The yearly tuition increase is several times greater than the inflation rate. Before committing funds, do your research. Conducting a thorough analysis of the costs involved, your expected return on investment, and how long you expect it to take to realize that return helps you decide if going to school is a good move. If the return doesn’t justify the risk, you may want to hold off. Remember, some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, such as Michael Dell and Mark Zuckerberg, forwent college or left early to pursue their ventures.
A Possible Compromise
It’s never a bad to soak up knowledge. Today’s technology makes it possible to learn from distinguished instructors in a structured environment without the tuition and time commitment of returning to a traditional school. With websites such as the Canadian Virtual University Consortium, you can take college and even graduate-level courses from the comfort of your home, paying a fraction of what tuition costs or even nothing at all. Some free online classes are taught by faculty at elite universities, such as the University of Toronto.
For a business owner, going back to school isn’t a choice to be taken lightly, as it has both benefits and cost. However, if you map out your goals and analyze your expected return on investment, you can make your decision confidently. If you do go back to school, keep track of the costs in your accounting software to help calculate your return on investment. The QuickBooks Self-Employed app helps freelancers, contractors, and sole proprietors track and manage their businesses on the go. Download the app today.