If you’re a history buff, you already know that some of the greatest entrepreneurs of the past were also engineers – men like John Frank Stevens, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison combined their engineering savvy with business panache to help build this country. Even today, engineers make up 20 percent of CEOs working in Fortune 500 companies.
In the start-up world, engineers make some of the best leaders. They possess the problem-solving skills, tech know-how and aptitude for calculated risk-taking that aspiring entrepreneurs need to succeed. If you’re hoping to make a name for yourself in the business world, an engineering education may be the perfect place to start.
Engineers Understand Innovation
If there’s one thing engineers excel at, it’s innovation. And in the business world, innovation is a hot commodity. It’s what drives performance, productivity, and satisfaction. When applied to consumer goods and technology, innovations can change lives, raise standards of living, and vastly boost quality of life.
Engineers have the scientific background necessary to make the kinds of breakthroughs on which many tech start-ups depend. An education in engineering does more than impart a thorough knowledge of mathematical and physics theories; it also gives you the ability to put those theories to work in the creation of new products and devices.
However, engineering entrepreneurs aren’t mere inventors. An educated engineer can have the problem-solving skills you’ll need to compete in the business marketplace. A truly innovative business leader knows how to construct an adaptable business model that can evolve with changes in the market ecosystem to minimize costs, increase productivity, and maximize the quality of products and services. A leader with engineering skills will have the insight to revamp work processes as needed, to keep productivity and performance high over the long run.
Engineers Are Inventive
If you want your start-up to succeed, you’d better have an inventive streak. Engineers have the creativity and cognitive skills to perform the kind of non-routine cognitive skills that are increasingly in demand in the business sphere. As an engineer, you’ll be ideally positioned not only to spot gaps in existing technology, but to strategize how best to fill those gaps.
Engineers Make Good Leaders
You may not think of engineering graduates as strong leaders, but in fact, they possess many of the qualities necessary for leadership. They’re willing to take risks, but know how to calculate those risks to minimize the chance of failure. They’re attuned to detail and have strong analytic thinking capabilities. They’re good at zeroing in on the cause of a problem and developing a practical, simple, and cost-effective solution. Finally, they’re realistic in their approach, but typically possess a strong clarity of purpose.
Engineering School Will Give You a Valuable Professional Network
As an engineering student, you’ll form strong bonds with other students in your engineering program. This is true whether you choose to study engineering online, or go for a more traditional brick-and-mortar program. And that’s important, because the day may come when you’ll be looking to hire smart, dedicated, creative engineers for your research and development team.
Whether you choose to found a business marketing your own products and inventions, or one that offers consulting services, a network of other professionals in your field will prove invaluable. As your business grows, you may find that you spend more of your efforts on leadership and have less time to devote to developing new products or performing services yourself. When the day comes that you need to bring others onto the team, you’ll benefit from a network of colleagues who are known quantities, and who already know you and trust your abilities.
If you have an aptitude for science and math, but a hankering to be your own boss, a degree in engineering could open the door to business success. While it might not be the first thing you think of when you think of an entrepreneur education, an engineering degree imparts many of the skills that business leaders need to succeed – including the skills to develop innovative new technologies. That’s why as many as one-fifth of today’s business leaders started out as engineering students, and that’s why a degree in engineering could be your first step on the road to business success.