Three ways to get educated and business savvy

Lakshmi Singh

Going to back to school doesn’t quite mean what it meant a few years ago.

Like the business world, the education space is also seeing great disruption. University degrees like the MBA, once seen as the gold standard in business education are no longer the only go-to program for ambitious business people. That’s not to say traditional degrees and diplomas don’t cut it when it comes to becoming business savvy – they just need to be compared with what else is on offer and what stage you’re in.

So what is on offer?

University degrees/diplomas

“I see university degrees and MBAs as ideal for wantrepreneurs, those hoping to start a business in the future, or corporate executives whose role requires extensive organisational knowledge but cannot provide hands-on depth because of the sheer size of their corporation,” says Jacob Aldridge, an international business coach.

In other words, your background - education and experience plays a part, he says.

There’s no point in teaching a real estate principal the basics of sales or forcing you to study irrelevant areas such as managing international teams if your vision is only local, he says.

If you want the depth and breadth offered by a degree but prefer something individualised, dynamic and situational, consider courses like the Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Melbourne’s Swinburne University, says Tobi Nagy, Entrepreneurship Pedagogy consultant.

“[In the program] each student pitches their idea, and creates an actual start-up, provides customer validation, and presents their idea to the facilitator and peers for feedback,” he says.

“So while more millennials may enjoy learning online via mobile, and mature-aged business owners are more comfortable in a workshop or classroom environment, like business advice itself this is not a case of ‘one size fits all’ -  Jacob Aldridge."

BSchools/ Mentor run programs

Katie Richards, CEO of Virtual Legal says university courses taught her how to be a lawyer but her time at business school The Entourage enabled her to “play a much bigger game”.

“What I’ve learned at The Entourage has taught me a different way to live my life as we spend a lot of time working out who we are and how to live our lives on purpose, which is very different to any other entrepreneurial or business school I’ve come across,” she says.

The course she did – “Saleable and Scalable” taught her about all aspects of her company - from automation and task auditing to setting up landing pages and understanding DISC profiles.

These practical, flexible group programs are ideal for start-ups, including programs like Key Person of Influence, says Aldridge.

But if your company is operational, approaching $600,000 in annual revenue or if you’ve been in business for a few years and are feeling stuck, that’s the right time to engage a business coach on a one-on-one level, he advises.

“You need personalised guidance, not general skills, to ensure your business grows,” he says.

Online Courses

For many entrepreneurs, programs that offer flexibility, choice and individual modules usually mean they score more brownie points. For this reason, online courses and education platforms like Udemy are booming.

Case in point - Daniel Battaglia, founder and CEO of, who learnt about the Drupal 7 CMS, PPC concepts, SEO as well as HTML coding through the online education portal

“This type of education was much more hands on delivered practical results as opposed to the theory studied at university,” he says.

How do you work out what’s best for you?

Whether it be “blended” university programs that allow you to study theory online and work on projects in class, attending a BSchool or completing courses online, Aldridge urges entrepreneurs to develop a strong understanding of their individual preferences before making a choice.

“So while more millennials may enjoy learning online via mobile, and mature-aged business owners are more comfortable in a workshop or classroom environment, like business advice itself this is not a case of ‘one size fits all’, he says.

Lakshmi Singh

Lakshmi Singh is a freelance writer across a range of sectors including technology, business, lifestyle and health. Her work has been published in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Sunday Telegraph.

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