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What is Entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is one of the most risky paths a person can take. These brave souls strike out on their own and attempt to launch the next hot product or make a living by offering their expertise to firms who need them. Thus, some people launch their hot start-up moments after they graduate from their undergraduate or MBA programs. Others venture off on an entrepreneurial path after years of work as an employee. Entrepreneurs can be found working as consultants, computer programmers, accountants, corporate recruiters, investors, and more.
There is no correct way to become an entrepreneur. However, entrepreneurs tend to have certain characteristics. For one thing they all tend to be individualists and they are often creative. They excel in spotting specific problems that people face and then devising new ways to solve them. However, others may be able to think so far outside of the box that their product or service creates a whole new paradigm in business or society.
Our rankings for Alaskan entrepreneurship programs are here to help students and their families discover the right program for them. We devise our rankings based on solid educational statistics that we gather from government sources. The U.S. Department of Education aggregates data on every college and university which we use to evaluate programs against each other. Specifically, we rely on data points such as the retention rate, graduation rate, and the student-to-faculty ratio to evaluate business programs, including those with a concentration in entrepreneurship. We do this so that students and their families can weigh their own subjective desires against our presentation of the educational data. Since we also include an analysis of the educational value each program represents, students can make their best decision for the long haul.
While there are terrific opportunities in Alaska, many students may wish to explore other parts of the nation, down in the lower 48. The WUE offers expanded opportunities outside of Alaska. Thus, we urge students who are interested in participating in this program to review our other state-specific pages to find the best entrepreneurship program for them.
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Entrepreneurship Education in Alaska
Entrepreneurs come in many shapes and sizes. They can work in any industry and take on any sort of role in their daily work. Some are independent individuals who operate their own consultancies in technology, marketing, education, or food service, among many other possibilities. Others start up complex organizations for the purpose of developing a ground-breaking technology or other products.
Thus, entrepreneurs might spend their days developing their technologies or ideas. Those who are working on the next killer app could do this at home on the sofa or in a coffee shop, while other entrepreneurs may develop their ideas in a special facility. For instance, someone with the next hot food item may have a designated kitchen where they can refine their product and figure out how to mass produce it. Since entrepreneurs are independent individuals by nature, they are sure to follow their own path. There are entrepreneurs who rent offices and wear traditional office attire even if they work alone. Others are die-hard blue jean fans and work all day with blaring rock music. If you have the entrepreneurial spirit, you’ll find that you can continue being yourself.
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Associate Degree in Entrepreneurship (AS)
If you have the next great business idea, you can launch your career with nothing but an associate degree in entrepreneurship. This degree will provide you with the fundamental business knowledge you need to thrive. While you won't have as much time to fully develop your ideas as if you earned a four-year bachelor degree, you can still gain the knowledge and skills you need to thrive. Along the way, you might want to take fundamental courses such as accounting or even business law.
Some even choose to spend their time in community college developing skills that are fundamental to their goals. For instance, someone who wishes to develop apps or other coding projects for a living might focus their associate degree in computer science. Others might study something like construction management, in case they aspire to being an independent developer. Ultimately, any aspiring entrepreneur should take a few entrepreneurship courses that offer an opportunity to learn how to develop a business plan, attain a loan, etc.
Bachelor's Degree in Entrepreneurship (BS)
A four-year degree in entrepreneurship will provide you with the knowledge and incubator time to fully prepare for life in the business world. Over the course of a four-year bachelor's degree in entrepreneurship, you can experiment with smaller business ideas both in the classroom and elsewhere. In fact, there have been many ground-breaking ideas launched by undergraduate students in their dorm rooms. For instance, a little-known company known as Facebook started in this way. Rumor has it that they are turning a profit.
An entrepreneurship program will help you learn how to develop your business plan, seek out funding, and form your corporation. Your program might also have you study case studies of successful and non-successful entrepreneurial endeavors. Undergrads might also pursue internship courses that provide exposure to successful entrepreneurs in the industries that most interest them. The program might also host entrepreneurs who visit campus to deliver speeches, answer questions, and more.
Master's Degree in Entrepreneurship (MS or MC)
For those who want to receive the ultimate training in entrepreneurship, a master’s degree in entrepreneurship, or an MBA with a concentration in entrepreneurship will help you launch a brilliant venture. This option may be particularly beneficial if you have a bachelor's degree in some other field but have a terrific business idea. If you need a strong foundation of business knowledge you can receive that in an MBA program.
After all, success in business takes more than a great idea. There are many pitfalls out there that can threaten your ideas. The first year of an MBA can provide the solid foundation in subjects like finance and accounting and then you can focus on entrepreneurship in the second year. Along the way, you'll have the chance to meet other business leaders. That networking will prove invaluable after graduation. For instance, you may befriend a banker who can help you secure a loan. You might also meet future team members who believe in you and your idea.
PhD Degree in Entrepreneurship (PhD)
A PhD or doctorate in entrepreneurship is a degree that few will achieve without the intention to teach at the college or university level. As with many other doctoral degrees you will have the opportunity to not only take the highest-level courses in the field but you will also have the opportunity to conduct your own research into entrepreneurship. You might take a psychological or a sociological approach, among other ways of viewing the phenomenon, but your dissertation will surely help form your later work.
While there may be PhD programs in entrepreneurship that prepare students for the business world, most are geared towards studying the topic as an object of academic interest. For those who have gained success as entrepreneurs, this might be an option for later in their career. For instance, you might sell your phenomenally successful venture for eight figures and then decide to spend the next chapter of your career researching the field and teaching others how to succeed.
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Top College Programs in Alaska for Entrepreneurship-Business
- University of Alaska Anchorage
- University of Alaska Fairbanks
- Alaska Pacific University
Become an Entrepreneurial Professional in Alaska
If you want to become an entrepreneur in Alaska, congratulations. Entrepreneurship is one of the most rewarding paths to take toward business success. Unsurprisingly, it's also one of the most difficult. However, no matter how easy or difficult the path becomes, it’s important to know if there are any rules you must follow within your state. Luckily for entrepreneurs, this isn’t much of an issue. You don’t need any special training or certifications to start your own business. People start their own businesses every day. The main thing to consider is registering your new business with the state.
In Alaska, you must purchase a business license from the Alaska Department of Commerce in order to register your business with the state. The fee for this is $50 per year, though you can pay for two years so you won’t have to renew your license again so soon. You may also need to register your newly licensed business as a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, etc. Both of these are requirements for state and federal government oversight and for taxation purposes. Another very important consideration is licensing depending on what your business is focused on. There are a number of professions in Alaska that you MUST have a professional license to offer services in that field. You can find this list on the Alaska Department of Commerce website.
Lastly, depending on what your business provides to its customers, you might consider joining the Made in Alaska program, which allows businesses in Alaska to place photos of products and other marketing materials into a cache for those who are interested in shopping local.
The Western Exchange Program and Alaska
While Alaska has many terrific programs for future entrepreneurs, it’s also a relatively sparsely populated place. Thus, students might need to consider pursuing a degree in the lower 48 states rather than within their home state. Residency in Alaska offers one terrific benefit to students, the Western Undergraduate Exchange program, or WUE. The WUE allows Alaskan residents to attend public colleges or universities in other member states. Those stated include California, Washington State, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, and more. Students must apply to gain entry into the WUE, and those admitted may be limited in terms of their degree options. Those rules and limits are applied on a school-by-school basis so if one school won't permit WUE students in their entrepreneurship program, another still may.
The WUE offers Alaskans great opportunities to learn and grow. The program includes schools such as Washington University, Berkeley, UCLA, University of Colorado, and the University of Oregon, to name a few. With so many top schools included in the program, a student from Alaska can graduate with a degree that competes with any top school in the world, all without incurring a huge debt.
Careers for Entrepreneurship Graduates
Creative marketing geniuses often strike out on their own in the field. With the right skills and creative talents, you can start a small advertising firm with a desktop computer, creativity software, and a bit of sales flair. Those who can crunch marketing data will have even more of an edge.
- Investment and Acquisition:
If you have strong skills in the world of finance, you can start investing and build a small fortune. With savvy investments you can even start to buy or fund local businesses as a sort of venture capitalist. This can be very risky, but with a strong background in financial analysis and a healthy bag of start-up cash, the sky is the limit.
- Business Owner:
Naturally, if you wish to be an entrepreneur you will be a business owner. Your business could be a one- or two-person team or a larger organization with over 50 employees. Before you dive in, make sure that you have a full working knowledge of your industry. A strong passion for that type of business, and a unique, strong business plan will also help you find success.
- Brand Manager:
This job description is often one that corporations have as part of their in-house staff. However, an entrepreneur can surely find a way to work independently as a manager for several small brands. Smaller firms may not have a budget to pay a full-time brand manager so will look for you to help maintain and build their brand.
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- Business Consultant:
Consulting is a terrific option for those who have proven track records in a specific area. You might have special skills or knowledge in human resources, marketing, information technology, or data analytics and can thus help firms on a contract basis. Depending on your skills and their relative value you might work for smaller local firms or large corporations.
- Marketing/Research Analyst:
Every company is seeking the next clever way to market their products or services. With a strong background in marketing, you can provide the necessary skills firms need to take their business to the next level. A strong background in data science with a concentration in marketing will surely land you hot contracts.
- Product/Product Development Manager:
A strong background in supply chain management or business operations can help you land contracts working with firms who need to revamp their product development. To launch a consultancy in this area you may need a strong, proven track record and perhaps an MBA as well. Sometimes smaller firms may not be able to pay your full fee, but if you take payment in the form of shares in the company this can buy you more trust and even greater long-term returns.
Many smaller firms can't pay to have full-time CPA or even a bookkeeper. If you have a degree in accounting, you can get started as an entrepreneurial bookkeeper. If you have a CPA license you can certainly make a living as an independent tax consultant, business development expert, or auditor.