How to Become an Entrepreneur in California

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What is Entrepreneurship?


An entrepreneur is someone who has an idea and puts together the support they need to start a new company; then, they help it develop and become profitable. Anyone who wants to can start a business, but not all of them will succeed.

An entrepreneur has many options in what type of business they will build. Their business may provide a service or manufacture and sell a product. They may have seen and identified a problem and then created a solution that they sell through their new company. If no one else has recognized the problem or created a solution, it greatly increases the chances that they will succeed, because no one else is crowding in on this new opportunity. An entrepreneurship degree program helps students develop these skills.

Like scientists, entrepreneurs develop hypotheses about what customers need. They then figure out how they can sell something of value to those customers. Once they know a need exists, they begin to develop their ideas and their business before finally building it and doing their best to make it a success.

California holds the distinction of having the largest economy in the U.S.; it holds the fifth-largest economy worldwide. Entrepreneurs who are interested in starting businesses in the state can specialize in any industry in the state.

The 10th largest industry is construction, bringing in $111.3 billion. Retail trade, #8, brings in $135.4 billion. Information, #4, brings in $287.8 billion - this includes any specialization within the information technology sector. Professional and business services is second on the list of California’s top industries and brings in $397.3 billion. Finally, real estate, rental, and leasing is the number one industry in the State of California.


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Entrepreneurship Education in California


For those who are interested in entrepreneurship in the state, it might be good to know that California is home to around 3,321,000 small businesses. Many small businesses are entrepreneurial in nature, started within the last couple generations and run primarily by families. Or at least, that’s how it used to be. These days, to get to this point, business owners may have gone out of their way to earn an entrepreneurship degree in California before setting out on their business journey.

To achieve this, business owners may earn only a bachelor’s degree in business with a few classes in entrepreneurship. Or, they may have attended graduate school and earned their master’s degree in business, or an MBA. Those graduates who know that they want to become an entrepreneur in California have a number of ways that they can gain an education in the field of business that will support their goal of running a company of their own.

The Small Business Administration says that small businesses in California employed 7.1 million people as of 2016. These businesses were responsible for creating nearly 250,000 positions during that year; those companies that employed less than 20 employees saw the largest increases as they added 176,744 new jobs. The smallest increases were in companies that employed between 20 to 99 employees. They added 25,931 new jobs altogether.

Associate Degree in Entrepreneurship (AS)

Graduates of an AAS Small Business/Entrepreneurship degree program, or other associate degree offerings in this field, may have the skills they need to begin a small business or continue to run one that they have already started. The degree gives graduates the business technology skills they need to either advance their careers or write up a business plan and become their own bosses.

Students delve into risk reduction in starting their businesses, developing a “purpose first” company that aims to grow long-term and find new customers more quickly. Students also learn the steps of starting a new company and practice them as they move an idea from a concept to a working business.

Students also have the opportunity in these programs to develop a mentorship network. They learn and get needed experience in growth mindset, team management, market/industry analysis, project organization, and the lean startup method, among other things.

Common courses include Excel, QuickBooks, design thinking, business communication, and more. They learn new skills they can use in retail management, sales, marketing, store management, or working for a new company.

Bachelor's Degree in Entrepreneurship (BS)

While stories abound of successful entrepreneurs who started well-known businesses without ever going to college, future entrepreneurs may still want to take the time to earn a bachelor's degree while their new business is in its infancy, or while they are developing the idea that they think will make it big.

There are several steps along the way that a small business startup has to complete before they open their doors. They need to research laws and regulations, find space for their production facility or office, and register as either a sole proprietor, limited liability partnership, limited partnership, limited liability company, or corporation. Finally, they need to apply for permits and licenses.

Entrepreneurs will need a number of skills throughout the start-up of their new company that a college degree may help them develop. They may also need skills specific to their industry and the other knowledge that a degree program or a business minor may be able to teach them.

Master's Degree in Entrepreneurship (MS or MC)

Earning a master’s in entrepreneurship gives the graduate student the tools they need to begin their own business or gain the expertise they need in order to attract new venture capital to their newest business idea.

Graduate business programs can teach students more about organizational behavior, leadership, innovation, and marketing, among other things. They may also study the financial processes that business owners use in order to gain funding for new, brilliant ideas. A Master’s in Entrepreneurship allows many graduates to find the best funding alternatives to help them achieve their goals.

Students may decide to earn a master’s or MBA in entrepreneurship if they have been working in business for a while but have not yet struck out on their own to begin a business.

Earning this level of degree teaches skills they may need, such as the following:

  • Students gain a comprehensive view at the different aspects of business practice—management, marketing, human resources, and finance
  • Developing better communication skills
  • An MBA program provides support to entrepreneurs, allowing them to tailor studies toward entrepreneurship

PhD Degree in Entrepreneurship (PhD)

A Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Entrepreneurship specialization blends both theory and practical strategies that have been taken from real-world situations. They may learn how to manage risk and change, identify potential market opportunities, raise capital, and encourage innovation.

Students may also analyze the ways an entrepreneurial organization can make positive contributions to society. After all, doctoral degrees are generally focused on research or high-level thinking in certain fields. Students in these programs may focus on developing their critical thinking and writing skills at the terminal degree level and curriculum at this level often offers learning in the following.

  • Business Strategy
  • Research Methods
  • Specializations
  • Doctoral Mentoring
  • Doctoral Study Writing

Students may also participate in in-person academic residencies and be required to complete a capstone project.

Become an Entrepreneur in California


Students in an entrepreneurship degree program should already have an idea of where they want to go in their careers in business. However, if they don’t know this, they have entered a field in which it is fairly easy to make a switch to a different field, such as if their business plan shifts, perhaps from building a product to offering a service instead.

Fresh out of college, students may not want to begin their new businesses quite yet and that’s fine. Graduates may find work in a financial institution or a business close to the field they are interested in eventually entering. They have the skills and knowledge they need to enter nearly any business field. When it’s time to step out on their own, they will have even more experience and knowledge to help them build their company.

Research and development (R&D) is another field an entrepreneurship graduate might go into. After all, they have taken courses specifically focused on understanding how to create a product or service meant for certain needs. This may mean that an entrepreneur is well-prepared to function here.

Entrepreneurs can, of course, also start their own individual businesses. They have prepared themselves for this day and right after graduation may end up being the perfect time. If you plan to start your own business, whether you have earned a degree or not, it’s important to know what is required by your state. A degree may have taught you to make a business plan, with advertising and location all planned out, but you also need to file with the state. You will file for a business license and also for tax purposes as a corporation, LLC, or sole proprietorship. The permit requirements depend upon what type of business you run and where you plan to locate your new company. Make sure to look up all requirements before getting too far along the planning stages. https://www.calgold.ca.gov/

Careers for Entrepreneurship Graduates


  • Business Owner:
    No matter what your eventual plans are or how big your company eventually grows, most entrepreneurs start out as small business owners. The legal status of a business owner’s company often denotes the difference between a business owner and an entrepreneur. Business owners may not be incorporated, while entrepreneurs often are. However, entrepreneurs also tend to assume larger risks, so there’s no harm in simply running a small business until you’re sure you’re ready to go big.
  • Public Relations Manager:
    These managers cultivate and maintain a client’s public image. they may work with social media and the managers and employees of advertising companies. A public relations manager needs to have analytical and creative skills that allow them to develop and strategize publicity campaigns to benefit the public images of their clients.
  • Marketing Manager:
    A marketing manager is responsible for the promotion of services, products, businesses, or brands. They create strategies for marketing and pricing, generate new business leads, are responsible for managing marketing department staff, and marketing budgets and trend analysis. Graduate business students become comfortable with all of these activities, though an entrepreneurship degree may not provide you with the focus on marketing that you need to move into a manager position. That may require some experience in the field.

    A successful marketing manager should hold wide knowledge or marketing strategies. They also need to know how to identify new business leads and be able to increase brand awareness and profitability.

  • Systems Analyst:
    This professional takes charge of the IT and information systems so that it can meet an organization’s needs. As an organization grows, the systems analyst should be able to scale both the IT and information systems to fit that growth.

    Systems analysts may also develop the specifications and requirements that their programmers and developers must follow though they are not directly involved with software or hardware development. To hold a position at this level, systems analysts may be required to hold a bachelor’s degree in information systems, computer science, engineering, or information technology. For those looking to become entrepreneurs in the information technology sphere, this may be a good starting point.

  • Management Analyst:
    A management analyst takes responsibility for analyzing the operations of an existing company or organization. They prepare operations and procedures manuals which enables the management of a company to operate more efficiently and effectively. They may carry out organizational studies and evaluations as well as work simplification and measurement studies in order to create accurate operations manuals.

    A bachelor’s degree in business may suffice for this position. However, other companies may require their management analysts to hold a master’s degree. To be successful in this role, management analysts should have taken graduate level courses that prepare them for an analyst position.

  • Investment and Acquisition:
    Investment and acquisition may transition into acquisition entrepreneurship. An entrepreneur should have the right temperament if they are considering this as a career, though, if they have completed a degree in the field, that should tell them all they need to know about their career preferences and whether this job is for them. One attractive aspect of acquisition entrepreneurship is instant impact. Here, the person is in charge right away and they can make consequential decisions.

    A person who enjoys this also often enjoys responsibility; they want to be in charge, rather than being one of many managers or employees. This individual should have basic management skills and an ability for leading and managing others. They must also be confident and persuasive.

  • Business Consultant:
    This role lends itself well to entrepreneurship. A business consultant may be a part of a business consulting firm, or they may work solo. Their primary responsibility is helping other companies to optimize their business model. They use the information the organization provides to them in order to help the business resolve issues and optimize their effect on the market.
  • Marketing/Research Analyst:
    A marketing analyst studies market conditions as they assess the probable sales of services and products. They study qualitative data and trends, competition, and strategies as they consider how to increase a company’s competitiveness in the global marketplace. Their goal is to help companies figure out which products are in demand, which customers will buy the products, and how much they are willing to pay. Since these are subject in which an entrepreneur would have a vital interest, it’s a good fit to find those who are interested in starting their own companies working in this field.

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