Economists and Entrepreneurship: Can Economists Be Good Entrepreneurs?
If you're studying economics and are thinking about possible career options, have you considered entrepreneurship? Studying economics gives you many skills which are useful in running your own business. Here are some of the qualities which you'll gain from training in economics which are valuable for entrepreneurship:
Good numeracy and a solid understanding of statistics
One distinct advantage that you'll gain from the study of economics is an understanding of statistics, statistical tests, and statistics software. This, along with mathematics, will strengthen your numeracy skills, which are of great importance to entrepreneurs. To succeed as an entrepreneur, it's not enough just to have a great idea for a business – you also need to be able to assess whether your business will be profitable, to work out how much you should charge for your product or service, and to be able to handle complex budgets. All of these skills will be much easier to learn for those who already have a solid grasp of statistics.
Basic understanding of finance
Related to the importance of numeracy for an entrepreneur is that importance of understanding the basic principles of finance. Economists may well have studied finance units as part of their degrees, and they will certainly have a better than average knowledge about taxes, loans, investments, and so on. This puts economists ahead of the curve when it comes to starting their own businesses, which will require a large amount of practical financial management.
Understanding risk and probability
Another advantage for entrepreneurship which is conveyed by studying economics is an understanding of risk and probability. When looking at possibilities for investment, for example, an economist can call on their training to think about the likelihood of a return on their investment, how large the return could be, and whether the possible gains outweigh the risks in any given deal. Entrepreneurs do need to be risk takers, as they need to be willing to try new things even if they may not succeed, but an understanding of what is a probable outcome will allow you to run a business in a smarter and more successful way.
Critical thinking and logic
An under-rated skill gained from the study of economics is critical thinking and the ability to apply logic to a complex problem. Economists even more than most academics are used to uncertainty and multiple possible answers to any given question. This ability to confront uncertainty and to use logic to find creative solutions to problems is an essential skill for the entrepreneur. In business, there is rarely one correct answer which applies in all situations – rather, multiple courses of action are possible and each has different advantages and disadvantages. Academic training in economics will help build the confidence and skills to make these decisions in business.
Communication skills like oral presentation
One skill which is vital for an entrepreneur is the ability to present your ideas, your business's performance, and yourself to others. In order to gain investment, to attract talent to work with you, and to promote your business, you'll need solid communication skills. A high standard of written communication is important and will be well trained by studying economics, but even more important is the skill of oral presentation. Being able to stand in front of an audience and speak with confidence and poise will be required in order for people to have confidence in your business, and giving academic oral presentations is an excellent way to refine this skill.
As you can see, studying economics is not just a path to a career as an economist. It can also set you up well for other careers, as it gives you plenty of transferable skills. The particular skills required to be a successful entrepreneur are often skills that you can pick up while studying economics.
For more careers advice for economists, see our other articles: