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Ideal Education Paths for Nurses Hoping to Become Entrepreneurs

By: Andrew Deen


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Nurses hoping to become entrepreneurs will naturally wonder what comes next in terms of their education. Is it time to enroll in business school, or is there a slightly less formal path available? The answer depends largely on the person.

In fact, the average nurse has been educated more than a substantial number of successful entrepreneurs. As a business owner, it’s up to you to decide what skills are important.

In this article, we take a look at what educational paths can help you successfully run a small business. We will also look at the business skills that nurses naturally bring to the table.

Nurse Skill Overlap

While there may not have been many business management questions on the NCLEX, that doesn’t mean you don’t have skills that already translate into good entrepreneurial practices. Most working nurses are:

  • Good under pressure: While business ownership can be a high-pressure work environment nothing can compare to the stresses of working in an overcrowded, understaffed emergency room.
  • Intelligent
  • Good at communication: Communicating quickly and effectively in medical scenarios has a major impact on the patient’s outcome. For that reason, many nurses are used to communicating quickly and effectively in a way that will translate well into business leadership.

If you’ve worked in leadership roles at your nursing job before you may also understand a different set of key business skills, delegation, and general management.

These soft skills aren’t always easily acquired. It will help significantly to go into your new business with the resolve and competency of a true professional. But what about all of those other important business skills?


No business owner does it all by themselves. How could they? If you look at the structure of a larger business you will find that it is divided into neat departments. Finance, marketing, sales, HR, and so on. As a business owner, you may need all of those positions. It’s not reasonable to expect yourself to figure them out.

Most people looking to start a business will figure out what skills are required for success in the professional territory they are wading into. They will then list out their personal skills, analyze the gaps between lists, and decide how to fill them.

Sometimes that will mean going back to school. More often, it will mean seminars, skill boot camps, and other training exercises. It may also mean hiring professionals to help fill out your team.

Below, we take a look at all of these scenarios.

Upskilling/Skill Bootcamps

Upskilling or skill boot camp programs vary in length. They can be as short as a few hours, or as long as six weeks. Do an online search for, say, social media marketing classes, and you will see a wide range of different options, varying in complexity.

Short seminars, conferences, and classwork experiences will be a good fit for many nurses hoping to become entrepreneurs who want to get the lay of the land, but certainly don’t want to postpone their business by four years to get another degree.

In this case, pedigree doesn’t matter. You already have the job. Now, you’ve just got to figure out how to maximize your effectiveness at it.

Do be careful with which programs you select— particularly when considering online opportunities. Pedigree may not matter, but quality certainly does.

Going Back to School

Is there ever a time when you need to go back to school as a small business owner? It may depend partially on what direction you are trying to take your business. If you want to open a mom-and-pop shop on Main Street, you can probably piece together all of the requisite knowledge through quicker learning opportunities.

If you are trying to create a business that will grow larger, potentially to the point of having a large staff, some business education could be helpful.

While there isn’t a single formula for nurses to become entrepreneurs, there are certain factors that heavily influence your odds. Solid preparation is a major feather in your cap. Make a business plan. Do market research. Figure out what skills you need, and decide on the best way to get them.

College education is a good route, but it also delays your business by years. Plus, it will put your investment in your business somewhere in the six-figure range, before you’ve done anything to develop a product.

When to Hire a Professional

It’s natural to balk at the idea of paying someone salary and benefits. That’s how you’re currently compensated, after all. If you set someone up with an upper five-figure salary— plus insurance— how will your family eat?

Most nurses hoping to become entreprenuers don’t make significant hires right away. They follow the educational recommendations described above. They fake it until they make it in some situations. Or, they find a partner skilled at the things they aren’t so good at.

When none of that is enough, they might consider the services of a freelancer. From finance to sales, and marketing, you can find independent contractors that will fill your skill gaps at a rate you can afford.

Tap Into Your Network

Business owners should establish and nurture a network. This abstract concept that calls to mind rich people chatting at a cocktail party is actually much more about getting to know your neighbor. Find out how the business owners in your area are making it work. Develop personal connections. Solicit advice and recommendation.

Be open to what they have to say. The majority of small businesses, we’re sorry to say, fail. If someone has earned their living independently for a long time, they probably know things that will be valuable to you. Take their advice.


Unsatisfying though it may be to hear, only you can decide what educational path will be most effective and valuable for starting your own business. Here’s a general piece of advice: You want your business education to be thorough, fast, and cheap.

While nurses hoping to become entrepreneurs don’t think so much about ROI, it’s an important business concept that you will need to zero in on as you make entrepreneurial decisions. Which education path will give you the most bang for your buck?

Figure it out and go from there. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed by all there is to learn, but once you commit, you should find a wealth of resources to help you open your business.

Published: November 17, 2023

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Andrew Deen

Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He implements lean methodology and is currently writing a book about scaling up business. Twitter @AndrewDeen14.

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