Building Your Future as an Entrepreneur with an Online Degree

Woman working in a retail environment

The face of business is changing all over the country. Online shopping, COVID and social distancing constraints, as well as changes in just human behavior are changing the way we shop. But, despite all that, a 2017 Gallup Student Poll found that 40% of school age students aspire to run their own business. That drive and aspiration is giving Generation Z the title of most entrepreneurial generation to date.

Karen Husselbee, ODU Alumni and Member Relations Advisor, Retail Alliance
Karen Husselbee, ODU Alumni and Member Relations Advisor, Hampton Roads Retail Alliance

What Kind of Degree Should I Earn to Start My Own Business?

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) is a great place to start. "A broader degree like a business degree can prepare you for surprises," says Karen Husselbee, Member Relations Advisor for the Hampton Roads Retail Alliance and ODU graduate. "Flexibility is key—the businesses that are thriving are the ones who can adapt to change."

Many BSBA programs offer concentrations ranging from STEM and financial focuses such as accounting and cybercrime, to broader focuses, such as leadership and management.

What Focus Should I Choose for My BSBA?

If you want to pursue a master's degree, all of the focuses are a good jumping off point, but if you have already started a business or want to start one as soon as you graduate, you might want to choose your focus based on our specific opportunities for growth. If you're already skilled at building a social media following and other aspects of online marketing, perhaps concentrating on the financial aspects of business with a BSBA in finance will round out your skillset.

What Should I Look for in an Online Business Degree?

You've probably already considered major points such as affordability and whether or not they have the business program you're looking for, but here are a few other important things to consider when choosing an online business degree program:

  • Reputation of the program: There's nothing wrong with newer business programs, but you may be more attracted to universities that have a more established school of business. A simple Google search or a quick look at LinkedIn should help you determine that!
  • Flexibility: The classes won't do you any good if you can't attend them. When you're considering an online business degree program, ask the enrollment coordinator whether the classes are asynchronous (available to complete on your own time) or synchronous (with set times for login.) If they're synchronous, find out if the classes you'll need are generally held in the evenings or weekends, and check your schedule.
  • Available Resources: You're spending a lot of time and money on your degree. While the information you learn will definitely help you start your business, university resources are also a great benefit to entrepreneurially-minded students. Does the university have a thriving alumni network? Are there resources available to online students such as writing help, career services, and research support? Can you engage with academic clubs and make connections with your classmates? These benefits can likely make a business program climb to the top of your list.

Advice for New Entrepreneurs 

"Be prepared for the amount of work that's involved," advises Husselbee. "It's often 7 days a week. Be really committed to put in the hard work." She advises young entrepreneurs to stay flexible and utilize the connections made in the business world. She also advises graduates to stay connected with their alumni network and friends they made in school. Above all, she says, stay open to opportunities. It's not always going to be easy, but you can do it with determination, education, and commitment.

To learn more about ODU's online business programs, visit