What is Entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship has the power to change lives and communities. Every state, including Alabama, is spending more resources and time to allow their people to grow and pursue independent success because it’s good for the economy and the quality of life for residents. Entrepreneurs are far more than individuals who launch a business. Today, entrepreneurs are any individual who offers a product, service, investment, or skill in a way all their own. It’s possible to be an entrepreneur by starting a small business, working as a freelancer, investing in companies, founding a non-profit, and much more.
Being an entrepreneur does not necessarily mean that a person must open a traditional small business to be considered an entrepreneur, but rather any type of business wherein you are the founder, co-founder, self-employed, investor, or acquirer of an organization. The type of offering you sell or provide could be nearly anything including sales, consulting, research, writing, design, investor, and so much more. An entrepreneur can also offer goods or services.
Alabama understands the importance of entrepreneurship for long-term economic success and the future prosperity of the state. Leaders are creating strategic partnerships with supportive corporations, higher learning institutions, and others to ensure that all types of entrepreneurs have the opportunity to thrive and succeed. It is possible to participate in incubators, accelerators, business coaching, entrepreneur programs, centers for entrepreneurs, and more such as Made in Alabama, Alabama Launchpad, Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute, and others.
Several top colleges and universities in Alabama are offering entrepreneurship degree programs including Auburn University, Samford University, University of South Alabama, University of Alabama, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Alabama A&M University. You can find bachelor’s degrees, minors, and graduate certificates in entrepreneurship throughout the state. Most programs, colleges, and universities offer a variety of scholarships to help with the cost of such education. And don’t forget about grants that focus on individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Entrepreneurship Education in Alabama
It’s possible to pursue a variety of entrepreneurship degrees in Alabama. You can choose from both in-person degrees and online course offerings. Certificates are also available. While many people associate the term entrepreneur with younger people, it’s never too late to become an entrepreneur. It’s possible to take control of your professional future with an entrepreneurship education at any point in your career and even in retirement.
Associate Degree in Entrepreneurship (AS)
An entrepreneurship associate degree is an ideal place to begin for individuals who wish to be self-employed or to start a small business. This degree level only takes two years and can easily be completed while you work another type of job or care for loved ones at home. Associate degrees are also a good starting point for entry-level positions within an industry or business, especially the one in which you wish to start a business, so that you might gain invaluable insights before you launch your offering. The position may not be your dream job; however, it will provide you with tremendous insight that will help you become a better entrepreneur.
Bachelor's Degree in Entrepreneurship (BS)
Most entrepreneurs select a bachelor's degree level for various reasons. For one, it’s often easier to find a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship over an associate degree. You might also consider a business major with a minor or concentration in entrepreneurship. This more advanced degree will provide you with a far greater depth of entrepreneurial understanding so that you have less of a learning curve to overcome when you operate your own business.
Those who complete this degree level will also gain hands-on experience and quite possibly be required to complete preparation work to launch their own business as part of a course, with an opportunity to gain access to a university-sponsored incubator or accelerator program. And it will be easier to find a full-time job with a bachelor’s degree while you work on your own entrepreneurial endeavors.
Master's Degree in Entrepreneurship (MS or MC)
A master’s degree or MBA in entrepreneurship is ideal for individuals who plan to become managers or a C-suite level executives. People who graduate with this type of degree often have aspirations of running businesses with the potential to scale a business at a high level. It can be a good idea to choose a specialization at this level if there is a particular industry or business type in which one has an interest. This degree is an excellent way to enter management and executive roles in startups with high growth potential.
PhD Degree in Entrepreneurship (PhD)
Most people who pursue a PhD or doctorate in entrepreneurship do so to become an educator. Highly acclaimed colleges and universities require their professors to have this advanced degree. It’s also possible to pursue careers in academic or scientific research studies with a PhD. There are many states, organizations, and business entities that wish to understand various aspects of entrepreneurship more clearly, such as the type of people who pursue it, the economic impact on local communities, and much more. Other people who pursue doctorate degrees in entrepreneurship will become innovators to disrupt industries even further.
Become an Entrepreneur in Alabama
In Alabama, you can become an entrepreneur in nearly any field or type of business. Whether you are looking to launch a disruption business or invest in growing startups, entrepreneurship opportunities are widely available in Alabama. Before you begin, it’s important to understand the best way to become an entrepreneur in Alabama. While several massively successful entrepreneurs have proven having a college degree is not always necessary, they are often the exception rather than the rule.
The majority of entrepreneurs need guidance in understanding business and leadership to become successful entrepreneurs in any state. Whether you want to be an innovator, investor, freelancer, or C-suite executive, a solid education in entrepreneurship will help you succeed at a much faster rate and with greater probability than if you attempt to become an entrepreneur without any formal training or education.
These degrees and certificates can also help you learn the type of entrepreneur you want to become and niche area in which you wish to focus. It can help you determine whether you are an idea person, an innovator, a manager, an independent worker, and much more. As an entrepreneur, you will be required to wear many interdisciplinary hats throughout an organization or position. You will also require hands-on experience to help avoid making critical mistakes as you launch or buy a business. Entrepreneurship education can help in all these areas as well as minimize your overall risk once you do become an entrepreneur.
As an entrepreneur, it’s also important to understand the different types of business you can begin. Some people want to help those in need without making a profit by launching a dynamic non-profit. Other people wish to take over an entire industry through innovation. In some cases, people want to provide local communities with products, services, skills, or opportunities that currently do not exist. And for those looking to work for themselves and switch careers, an entrepreneurial background is often an ideal launching point.
Whether you want to work in engineering, business, marketing, investing, accounting, lawn care, retail, or others, a career in entrepreneurship provides you with endless career options. In Alabama, you can pursue any of these types of entrepreneurship possibilities with the right education, work experience, and focus.
Top College Programs in Alabama for Entrepreneurship
- The University of South Alabama:
At the University of South Alabama, you can pursue an entrepreneurship concentration as well as a minor through the Department of Management at the business college. The university also features the Melton Center for Entrepreneurship so that students have access to experiential learning, training, and continuing and professional education.
- The University of Alabama:
The University of Alabama’s management department offers an entrepreneurship minor for any business major. This minor is designed to ensure students graduate with innovation skills, the ability to analyze markets and industries, and more. Students will also have access to hands-on experience.
- Samford University:
Samford university features an entrepreneurship major through the Brock School of Business. Students will graduate with a solid understanding of general business practices as well as learning the best methodologies associated with innovation and entrepreneurship. It’s also possible to complete experience in startups and micro-business funding.
- Alabama A&M University:
Alabama A&M University is one of a few universities in the region with a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship. This leading regional program centers around family businesses, innovation firms, startups, and experiential learning opportunities. Many graduates go on to work as small business owners, COOs, business consultants, managers, marketers, inventors, and more.
- Auburn University:
At Auburn University, students can pursue a business management degree with an entrepreneurship and family business minor. This minor will prepare students in entrepreneurship essentials, managing startups, business plans, and other essential areas. Students also have access to a center for family business and entrepreneurship, an accelerator, and more.
- University of Alabama at Birmingham:
The University of Alabama at Birmingham features a Technology Commercialization and Entrepreneurship Graduate Certificate. This allows entrepreneurs to continue their education after completing a master’s degree or an MBA without having to enroll in a PhD program. It’s also a great program for established professionals looking to shift careers to becoming an entrepreneur.
Careers for Entrepreneurship Graduates
A career in entrepreneurship is much more than simply starting a business. There are many types of entrepreneurship opportunities including the builder, opportunist, specialist, innovator, fact finder, and more. For the best chance at success, determine the quality that best suits your strengths, character and personality and then choose an entrepreneurship career path, such as:
Very few companies outside of enterprises have in-house advertising. Advertising entrepreneurs can work with a wide array of business types in various industries. Most people have greater success when they specialize in a niche of either advertising methodology or business type.
- Investment and Acquisition:
Some people prefer to invest in startups or growing businesses or to acquire a new business with great potential. These types of entrepreneurs typically enter into a business after it has gained traction with impressive proof of concept results.
- Business Owner:
A business owner will often start a small business in their local community to fulfill a need in the marketplace that is currently lacking or with a better product or service than currently exists. These entrepreneurs commonly seek out investment or loans to make their business a reality.
- Marketing Brand Manager:
A marketing brand manager centers their business around creating brand continuity for other businesses. These individuals will plan and execute various strategies that are customized for each unique client. They will also have a solid understanding of the most effective marketing tools for each business type.
- Business Consultant:
Business consultants are hired to examine a startup or established business in great detail. They will then determine the strengths and weaknesses of an organization and provide recommendations based on a thorough analysis. Consultants typically specialize in specific niches and business types.
- Content Specialist:
Content specialists work with clients to create targeted and strategic content to increase traffic to landing pages and social media channels as well as to improve page rankings in search engines. They must have exceptional writing and grammatical skills and have an in-depth knowledge of content marketing.
- Market Research Analyst:
People who specialize in market research analysis can be employed by any company anywhere in the world. These professionals provide companies invaluable insights into their markets and industries as well as their competitors and winning business models and practices.
- Product Development Manager:
Product development managers tend to be innovators with solid business acumen. They understand a client’s customer just as much as they understand the end goals of an organization. These individuals will determine if a product is right for a target market or if any changes need to be made to be successful.
- Sales Specialist:
Certain people are exceptional at sales. And this is a critical component to the success of any business, even non-profits. Sales specialists, as part of entrepreneurship, help to create strategies, work with marketing to improve targeting the right customers, hire the best talent, and train others to always be selling.