A current trending, and hotly debated, topic in the realm of entrepreneurship is whether entrepreneurs should devote time and money to continuing education. There are a multitude of reasons why this topic is so divisive. A main reason for the divisiveness is that defining the concept of “continuing education” is ambiguous.
Some industry experts define continuing education as taking courses which may lead to a traditional degree. Other experts consider continuing education as simply signing up for a 3 to 5-day immersion session, which will accumulate in a certification. Regardless as to which continuing education camp you would align with, the shear action of taking time and money away from your business and spending it on this type of activity should be explored in-depth and from the perspective of pros and cons for the entrepreneur.
Pros for Continuing Education
Continuing education allows the entrepreneur to gain knowledge from industry experts related to a wide array of topics. The knowledge gained may come from the actual course itself. Also, from my experience, entrepreneurs and students also learn from other entrepreneurs or students. This leads to new insights related to different industries or creative ways to implement new technological advances. A definite win for the entrepreneur.
Cons for Continuing Education
As for cons related to continuing education, the leading con in this category would be the detour, or re-allocation, of scarce resources. Each and every entrepreneur has exactly the same amount of time. When an entrepreneur utilizes this resource on anything other than their business, then competitors are able to exploit this opportunity by either servicing their customers better or devise strategies for gaining market share (your market share).
A second challenge for continuing education would be the usefulness of the knowledge gained. I cannot count the number of courses that I have taken that ended with me gaining no knowledge related to growing or improving my business. Of course, the required courses may have led to a coveted degree. However, the time, money, and energy devoted to these courses could have been better utilized in my business instead of dabbling in continuing education.
In summary, continuing education courses may lead to gaining new insights in relations to conducting business in our global economy. Further, time and money spent on the continuing education may pay off tenfold in the long run. However, without conducting due diligence in reference to the continuing education opportunity, business owners run the risk of wasting scarce resources. From this, there are definitely benefits to continuing education opportunities. However, entrepreneurs need to do research into the opportunity before making a decision.
Author: Paul Borosky, Doctoral Candidate, MBA., Author