School is all too infrequently seen as the investment that it actually is. All too often, prospective students are sold on an experience. Campus quad. Social interactions. The chance to explore new interests and grow as a person. Develop strong political opinions that cause you to pick fights at Thanksgiving dinner.

Education is actually a business choice. You’re spending money today to generate it later. That works when your degree connects clearly to a professional opportunity. What about when you are planning on going into business for yourself? Does the value calculation still add up?

In this article, we take a look at if and how remote graduate degrees can still be worth their price for entrepreneurs.

Graduate Degrees Help You Do Your Job Better

Assuming you choose the right program and participate in it vigorously, you will learn skills that provide a clear and direct value to your business. Your degree might teach you how to leverage data or scale your operations in a way that allows you to significantly dial up your revenue potential.

There are two questions to ask yourself where ROI is concerned:

  • How much more money will you be making than if you didn’t have your degree? If you want to develop a franchise for your coffee shop or lawn service, that could be a big number. If you are just hoping to improve operational efficiency, it will be a small number.
  • How soon will you realize that increased revenue potential? In other words, do you have a clear plan for how you will apply this new knowledge? Information is power, but directionless facts won’t do you much good. ROI is only realized when you have a clear plan for putting your degree into action.

Plans, of course, have a way of falling apart. Still, if you know what you want to do with your degree, it will ultimately increase your odds of seeing a good return on your investment.

The Value of Connections

Business education has long been seen as a way to acquire valuable personal contacts. In some schools, the friendships you make are more valuable than anything you learn in the classroom. Graduate programs, particularly at prestigious universities can help business owners develop valuable personal relationships that could result in lucrative partnerships down the line.

Naturally, it is hard to put a monetary value on networking. Will those connections amount to $100,000+ in additional revenue? It’s hard to say. Some could. Most, probably, will not. Still, the value of meeting like-minded people should factor into your decision.

Filling Positions Yourself

The most tangible return on investment will come if your degree allows you to avoid hiring someone else. For example, if you want to get a finance-related MBA that will allow you to avoid hiring a CFO or creating a finance department, that will have an immediate and quantifyable value in the form of money you would have spent on salary and benefits.

Many business owners go to graduate schools to fill in the gaps in their businesses. If this is your strategy, it could very well be an effective way to accomplish your financial and professional goals at an “affordable,” price.

Do You Need a Graduate Degree to Operate Your Own Business?

The short answer is, no. This is evidenced by the fact that most business owners don’t have them. Many don’t go to college at all. Graduate programs absolutely provide valuable skills that can help you run an effective business. This is especially true when it comes to developing and rolling out growth strategies.

A good product or service and a way with people MAY allow you to run an effective mom-and-pop shop. It won’t be enough to scale a larger business. To maximize your revenue potential, you first need to increase your knowledge area. Getting a graduate degree is one way to do this. It isn’t the only way. It certainly isn’t the most cost-effective way.

Some business skills are developed through intuition and repetition. The same curiosity and desire to solve problems that inspired you to open your business can help you find new ways to run it more effectively.

The “trial and error,” approach, can, of course, be expensive.

If you want to level up your skills as a business owner without spending $100,000 to do it, there are other ways. The best? Read. That’s what people are doing at school. You can do it for free at home with a library card. If you can’t find all of the necessary books at your local branch, you can get them for a heck of a lot less than $100,000 with your Amazon account.

Weigh the pros and cons.

The benefits described above are just that. Benefits. Not requisites. Try assigning them a monetary value. How much do they mean to you? If you can find a degree at that price point, go for it. If you can’t, fear not. There are many ways to learn effective business management.