Who Are Those Who Made It Without a Degree?

There are many multimillionaires and billionaires who made it without a degree. In fact, many of these entrepreneurs amassed their fortunes without gaining any academic qualifications.

Universities are fine. It’s great, even. Universities teach useful and powerful things. Doctors, lawyers, architects etc. It’s great. But not for everybody. The academic treadmill is actually harmful to the entrepreneurial drive. For one thing it gives you the false sense that you know a lot of stuff, when you don’t. You may know about a lot of stuff, but in terms of actual skills based on experience, in terms of real, how-to knowledge that leads to confident action, you know nothing.

For another thing, it raises the mindset of dependency. The academic treadmill ingrains a tolerance for tedium, reverence for hoop-jumping and the habit of thinking small.

Who hasn’t heard of Richard Branson?

Sir Richard Branson
Billionaire founder and owner of the Virgin group
Education: Left school at 16 with one O level

Being mildly dyslexic and bad at school he decided to quit at the first opportunity – a decision that cast him straight into business success. With his daring lifestyle and charitable activities, he is probably one of the highest profile billionaires around.

John Caudwell
Billionaire mobile-phone tycoon
Education: Left college at 16 without taking his A levels

Bullied at school, he terminated his A levels at the age of 16, three months into studying Maths, Physics and Chemistry. He told interviewers he just wasn’t academic. He wanted to be in the real world.

Sir Philip Green
Britain’s richest self-made billionaire, owner of the Arcadia Group
Education: Left school at 15 without any formal qualifications

Green’s story is all about know-how, guts, vision and luck. It’s not about degrees, training courses and qualifications. His guts and vision didn’t come from higher education. They came from time spent in the real world, mucking in and learning how business works.

Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber
Multi millionaire composer, songwriter, theatre director
Education: Left Oxford soon after starting a course in history

He started writing his own music at a young age and put on productions with his brother in his toy theatre. Although he went to Oxford University to study history, he soon abandoned the course to pursue his interest and love for music theatre.