3 Ways Online Learning Prepares You for Business Ownership

woman looking at iPad

Overnight success. It’s a title many of us have dreamed of owning. Go to bed one night and wake up the next morning with the world at your fingertips. But, is there truly such a thing as an overnight success?

An article published in Forbes refers to the phenomenon as a myth and says that wishing for instant success leads not to fame and riches but rather to impatience and a constant search for shortcuts. The reality is that becoming an overnight success takes time. Those who use their time to grow their skill base find themselves ready when the opportunity for success presents itself.

Some people might look at me as an overnight success. The Huffington Post named my blog, DrBeckyFitness.com, one of the new and upcoming websites to follow in 2017, and my YouTube channel will soon top 100,000 subscribers. What people don't see are the years I spent honing the skills I needed to become an effective communicator and the countless times that tears felt more appropriate than cheers. 

Success as a business owner comes not from luck or divine grace but rather from the mastery of the skills needed to separate yourself from the pack. I honed those skills through my work as an online instructor for Ashford University. As an online student, you have the same opportunity. Here’s how you can develop the perseverance, independent thinking, and time management skills needed to become a successful entrepreneur.  

Learn to Persevere

To succeed in business, you must persevere. That sounds cliché, and perhaps it is because the word is often misrepresented. We think that we will succeed if we “just hang in there.” For an unmotivated online student, “hanging in there” might look like handing in assignments that are “good enough” to pass. But if your motivation is self-employment, perseverance takes on a new meaning. It's not passing the time that counts; it's what you do with that time that makes the difference. 

When I first started my blog, I received an email from a woman stating that she loved my content but that she could no longer follow me because my articles contained too many grammatical errors. I was embarrassed, especially since I was also a college instructor at the time. Instead of hanging my head in shame (ok, I did that for a little while), I realized that if I wanted to be a successful writer, I had to take the time to learn how to write. I utilized Grammarly, which is a tool that you have access to as an Ashford student. This tool pointed out my grammar errors, but to improve as a writer, I needed to know more. I took the time to read Grammarly’s feedback and learn from it, so I would not make the same mistake twice. 

How do you handle feedback from your online instructor? Do you ignore it because you’re doing good enough to pass, or do you take the time to learn from it and improve? Don’t cut corners. The time and effort you put in today will pay off in the future. 

Be an Independent Thinker

Do you follow someone on YouTube? What is it that you like about them? Chances are they share a unique or even controversial perspective that you find intriguing. Success in business means separating yourself from the pack by presenting new, previously unexplored ideas. As an online student, you have an opportunity to cultivate your unique voice through the weekly discussion boards. It is tempting to read the information posted by classmates, and then parrot that same information in a slightly different way. Instead you should resist that temptation and build your own voice so that you can stand out from the crowd. This independence will give you the confidence you need as you work toward your own entrepreneurial goals outside of the virtual classroom.

Manage Your Time

When I started my business, I wore all the hats. I was the website designer, content creator, and customer service department. As a student, you have many responsibilities. It is easy to look at your situation as a burden, but the entrepreneur looks at it like boot camp. To get ahead in school or business, you must meet deadlines, stay focused, and use your time wisely even when the kids get the flu and the car won’t start. Accept these tasks not as a burden, but rather as preparation for running a business. The time management skills you develop as an online student will prepare you for what’s to come years after you earn your degree.

Honing your perseverance, independent thinking, and time management skills could transform you from online student to business owner. Put forth the time and effort today, and perhaps one day, you too will be asked how you became an overnight success. 


Written by Becky Gillaspy, DC, a former instructor at Ashford University, nutritionist, entrepreneur and founder of DrBeckyFitness.com.  

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