No matter your career path, it’s important to broaden your business knowledge.

According to LinkedIn data, people management, business analysis, and corporate communications are highly sought-after skills, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of business and financial operations jobs to grow 10 percent—faster than the average for all occupations—through 2026.

What’s more, furthering your education can reap numerous personal and professional benefits. In a recent survey of former Harvard Business School Online participants, it was found that taking one or more of our online courses led to an array of positive outcomes, including higher confidence, greater responsibility at work, and more attention from recruiters.

Going to business school to pursue an MBA or other related degree is a popular course of action for professionals who want to develop their skills and advance their careers. The academic rigor that comes with attending business school can be intimidating, however, and such programs often require substantial time and financial commitments. For these reasons, learners commonly seek online courses to prepare them for an MBA, or to act as an alternative to a formal degree altogether.

If you’re asking yourself, “Should I go to business school?” consider the personal and professional goals you hope to achieve and what you’re willing to do to get there. Whether through an online business course or an MBA program, here’s a look at six compelling reasons why you should develop your business skills and expand your knowledge base.

Benefits of Developing Your Business Skills

1. Advance Your Career

If you’re striving to reach the next level within your organization or secure higher pay, an understanding of fundamental business principles can help you achieve your goals.

For Pamela Raymond, a communications specialist and IT project manager, taking our Credential of Readiness (CORe) program was a way to accelerate her career and get a refresher on the concepts she learned years prior in business school.

Studying economics, financial accounting, and business analytics enabled her to not only gain a greater sense of clarity about her professional future, but earn both a raise and a promotion.

“You start understanding that you do use this every day,” Raymond says of the knowledge she gained in the program. “It informs how you make decisions, and how you talk to people and talk about projects.”

2. Become a Better Communicator

Strong communication skills are an asset in any professional environment.

Through analyzing real-world business scenarios and learning about the tools and techniques needed to drive team performance, you can become more effective in how you deliver feedback and convey important information regarding organizational change and other complex processes.

In addition, having a baseline understanding of disciplines like accounting and finance can help you establish clear lines of communication with your numbers-focused colleagues and improve your working relationships.

Related: 5 Business Skills Every Professional Needs

3. Understand Your Industry on a Deeper Level

Beyond an expanded skill set, studying business can provide you with an in-depth understanding of your industry and the economic forces that drive it.

In the case of Pankaj Prashant, an engineer based in Australia, CORe was a means of building on his technical background and gaining a more robust knowledge of how markets work.

“The mining industry experiences cyclical price fluctuation every few years, and now I understand the reasons and factors that dictate these changes and how supply and demand affects commodity pricing,” Prashant says. “Since completing CORe, I’ve been using the concepts taught in Economics for Managers to build more accurate pricing models for my business so that I can better forecast prices and fluctuations.”

Related: 5 Reasons Why You Should Study Economics

4. Improve Your Decision-Making

Decision-making is a vital skill for every professional.

Learning about the principles of leadership and management can give you a framework for analyzing and overcoming challenging workplace scenarios, arming you with the know-how to guide a critical team meeting or spearhead a new learning initiative.

Even if you’re not in a leadership role, taking the time to develop your decision-making approach can help you boost your impact as an individual contributor and influence your company’s processes for planning and executing projects.

5. Start Your Own Venture

If you’ve ever dreamed of branching out and starting your own company, acquiring business knowledge through rigorous coursework can be a launchpad to achieving that goal.

Prior to founding ecoimagine, an online boutique that sells high-quality products made of recycled, repurposed, or biodegradable materials, Lisa Cassidy enrolled in our Sustainable Business Strategy course to discover how she could communicate the advantages of being purpose-driven to her clients.

According to Cassidy, the course was instrumental in her decision to pursue her entrepreneurial vision for an eco-friendly product line and helped solidify her company’s mission.

“The class gave me the nudge I needed to say, ‘You can do this.’” Cassidy says. “I don’t think I would have gotten there so quickly if I wasn’t asked point-blank at the end of the course, ‘Now what are you going to do with what you learned?’”

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6. Enhance Your Personal Life

Outside of the workplace, a keen understanding of business fundamentals can bring a host of personal benefits.

Knowing how to tactically navigate negotiations can be highly valuable in situations like buying a home or car, and having a firm grasp on the basics of accounting can come in handy when building out your household budget.

On top of these practical applications, furthering your education can provide an immense feeling of accomplishment, instilling you with greater confidence and a desire to continually learn and improve—both personally and professionally.

Related: Why Having a Foundation in Business Is Critical

Improving Your Business Skills

Pursuing a business education is a worthy investment in yourself and your career. Whether your aim is to be an entrepreneur, become a manager, or pursue an MBA, learning vital business concepts can be a way to achieve your goals and improve your quality of life.

If you decide that business school is right for you, consider the ways an online business essentials course can prepare you for the rigors of an MBA or other related degree. If you can’t commit to a full program, such a class could be a solution to set you on the path toward career advancement.

Do you want to take your career to the next level? Download our free Guide to Advancing Your Career with Essential Business Skills to learn how enhancing your business knowledge can help you make an impact on your organization and be competitive in the job market.

This post was updated on March 17, 2020. It was originally published on July 11, 2019.

Matt Gavin

About the Author

Matt Gavin is a member of the marketing team at Harvard Business School Online. Prior to returning to his home state of Massachusetts and joining HBS Online, he lived in North Carolina, where he held roles in news and content marketing. He has a background in video production and previously worked on several documentary films for Boston’s PBS station, WGBH. In his spare time, he enjoys running, exploring New England, and spending time with his family.