Is education the ticket to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

Mark Talmage-Rostron
November 21, 2021 · 5 min read

Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, co-founder of Flutterwave reckons it’s a blend of spotting a gap in the market and making an educated decision to go for it

One of Nigeria’s most successful entrepreneurs, Nexford investor and co-founder of Flutterwave, now valued at a US$1 billion-dollar organization, shares the genesis of his entrepreneurial calling.

He says, “My co-founder and I, Pierre Arys watched the movie, The Social Network, about how Mark Zuckerberg built his iconic and popular social media empire, Facebook. Right there I just realize that I wanted to be an entrepreneur.” Little did he know at that particular moment in time that he would transform the narrative for African startups.

You reap what you sow

As with Zuckerberg, success from starting Flutterwave did not just fall into Iyinoluwa Aboyeji’s lap. It was born from hard work, determination and a good education that he received by attending primary school and secondary boarding school in Nigeria.

“A lot of my business core foundation, or rather business acumen, came from my education. When I went to the University of Waterloo, I spent time working as an intern which gave me early business experience.”

Iyinoluwa did 10 courses in 5 months and graduated well ahead of schedule. An early indication of his hard work and dedication that would stand him in good stead for his future endeavors in the business world. During his time at university, he met his co-founder of Flutterwave, Pierre Arys, and that became the start of their successful entrepreneurial partnership. Ring any bells?

Match what you study to what you want to do in real life

Is entrepreneurship inexplicably linked to what you studied in university or is it just an innate thing that sits within us all, but just needs to be discovered? Opinion is really divided on this subject. Yes, many popular entrepreneurs are successful despite not pursuing higher education; Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college, and Richard Branson never went to college. But more often than not, that is the exception rather than the norm.

Many experts would agree that knowledge, skill, and opportunity can only be found in academia. Education makes it more likely for you to take an idea, nurture it to maturity, and become an accomplished businessperson. Because academic qualifications last a lifetime, they come in handy whenever you need to venture into the corporate world to boost your income. Pursuing higher education is a worthwhile venture for aspiring entrepreneurs. Iyinoluwa is a testimony to that. In fact, 44% of American entrepreneurs have a college degree.

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Five reasons why higher education is necessary for successful entrepreneurship

There are many reasons why you should attend college before charting your path in the business world. Five of the most compelling reasons are listed below.

1. Navigating the complexities of business

Apart from the basic management activities, there are complex marketing, taxes, legal and sales demands that must be met. Higher education helps an entrepreneur to understand the basics of running a business before starting one.

2. Modern business demand an interdisciplinary approach

Having one skill is not enough; entrepreneurs must understand the fundamentals of economics to evaluate the market, master technology to use a digital system, and have a grasp of marketing to prepare targeted campaigns.

3. Gaining cultural literacy

Daily interaction with people from all walks of life is very common in college. Culturally literate entrepreneurs can do business in international markets. They have unique insights into international business practices.

4. Gaining industry connections

Classes, talks, seminars, and other initiatives that involve external organizations give aspiring entrepreneurs exposure and connections. During these events, students meet industry veterans and influencers.

5. Protecting yourself from uncertainties in business

Starting a business is easy; maintaining it is much harder. To protect yourself from business uncertainties that cause loss of income, you should have long term plans that bear fruit. Graduating from university assures you that no matter what happens to your business, you will always have something to fall back on as you plan your next move.

Although many would say that you do not need a college education to start a business, having one increases the likelihood of your success. The college environment is perfect for gaining business skills, cultural literacy, and industry connection. Because academic qualifications last a lifetime, they come in handy whenever you need to venture into the corporate world to boost your income. Pursuing higher education is a worthwhile venture for aspiring entrepreneurs. A good place to start carving out a career as an entrepreneur could come by way of a BBA in Entrepreneurship.

For Iyinoluwa it was a combination of education, being born with an entrepreneurial knack, and refusing to follow the crowd. Something that Nexford learners share with him. Learners who chose to shun the traditional university setup, rather than electing to study online with a truly modern and 100% online university.

“I never followed the rules. I always questioned the status quo, thought out the box, and went against the grain. But I think that the reality is there has to be a combination of education and what you intrinsically have inside you to become successful as an entrepreneur.”

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Iyinoluwa’s three tips to entrepreneurial success

“Don’t get knocked back by what people say and how they judge you” he says. “Disagree, make sacrifices, and then go out there and prove them wrong. That for me was extremely satisfying.” There is not an exact science to becoming a great entrepreneur, but Iyinoluwa maintains that for him, three things helped him and maintains that they will work for other budding entrepreneurs.

Tip 1

Build a great team. Entrepreneurship is hard, so don’t do it yourself.

Tip 2

Make sure that you are solving a real problem for people.

Tip 3

Above all else, make sure that you are having fun chasing your dream.

Regardless of his achievements Iyinoluwa still stays humble and gains satisfaction from knowing he inspires young Nigerians looking to build global businesses from within Nigeria. His advice to Nexford learners and budding entrepreneurs is that you need to realize that the education you receive is for service. Service to your future business endeavour and your fellow man. By doing that you are going to find success in that.

Getting a Nexford education, will often open doors for you and help you to achieve success that others might not find by being taught theory over skills that can be used in business. If you leverage the tools your education has given you, you can realize how much closer you are to success than you think.

About the author
Mark Talmage-Rostron
Mark Talmage-Rostron

Mark is a college graduate with Honours in Copywriting. He is the Content Marketing Manager at Nexford, creating engaging, thought-provoking, and action-oriented content.

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