Generally speaking, running your own small business is stressful, time-consuming, and tiring. Getting into professional school (i.e. law school or business school) for most people is stressful, time-consuming, and tiring. The two usually don’t mix well. In addition, applying to professional school can add substantial expense to your balance sheet, forcing many small business owners to cut corners.
The following tips, taken from colleagues who have earned professional degrees while running their own business, will help guide those looking to earn a professional degree while still running their own small business.
- Stay local. While it is tempting to go away for school chances are your small business will need attention. “It was really helpful for me to be half an hour away from my business at all times,” says Betsy M., who received her law degree while running an escrow company. “If anything popped up at work, I could be in the middle of things putting out fires very quickly.” Of course, this tip is applicable to brick-and-mortar businesses rather than internet businesses, but you should remain mindful of the demands of your business in any case.
- Notify your colleagues. People you do business with need to now that you are planning to attend professional school, even if it is part-time and even if you feel this will hurt your business (it doesn’t have to). In order to effectively manage your time, you need to manage the expectations of your clients and co-workers. If they think you are working full-tilt, and you are pursuing a business degree on the side, you will run into conflicts at bad times. As usual, being straightforward is the best approach.
- Avoid time consuming “in-person” test prep courses. To get into a good professional school, you have to do well on the LSAT (law school admission test) or GMAT (graduate management admission test), but classroom prep courses are too inefficient to be most useful to you. Commutes, idle chit-chat, and a slow teaching pace all take away precious time from your test prep. Instead, consider taking online LSAT prep or GMAT prep that will allow you to prepare for the exam at the office while you avoid traffic or at home. These classes are often much cheaper to boot.
- Go for Scholarships. There are many scholarships available for small business owners. Your business experience, combined with a strong LSAT or GMAT score will make you a great asset to many professional schools. This is so despite a poor academic record at your undergraduate institution.
Going to professional school while you own your own business is no easy task, but it has been done. Hopefully these tips make it somewhat easier for you.
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