What to Study to Successfully Run a Family Business | Student Reviews & University Rankings EDUopinions

What to Study to Successfully Run a Family Business


There are 17 million family-run businesses in the EU, from small, local businesses to huge multinational enterprises. Working in a family can be a great career move, but sometimes, you’re not quite ready to take on a big management role. So, what should you study to successfully run a family business?

Like any other business venture, running a family business is a big ask. You’ll likely be taking on a broad management role, managing lots of different aspects of the business and gaining an understanding of various departments. Luckily, there are business programs that prepare you to do just that.

Read on to find out what degree you need to study in order to take on your family business and make it a success.

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What Skills Do You Need to Run a Family Business?

Skills for Working in Family Business

Being part of your family business comes with its own challenges. First of all, you’ll feel a duty to manage it successfully, as the profit you make is directly tied to your family’s income. This can increase the pressure to do well, which, if you’re new to working in a fast-paced business environment, can be difficult.

At the same time, you’ll be working alongside other family members as well as outside staff in the company, which can make it harder to create boundaries between work and personal life. What do you do when you have to see your family at work and outside work?

As a result, working in a family business demands slightly different skills compared to working in a role in a normal company.

Some of those skills include:

  • Flexibility
  • Trust
  • Transparency
  • The ability to listen well
  • Delegation
  • Determination
  • Communication

While these skills are important in any business environment, they’re even more vital i you’re working with family or in a company that demands longevity.

So, if you’re planning on working for your family’s business, it’s important that you pursue the right business degree – one that concentrates on these skills and offers you a broader vision of business.

Which Business Degrees Are Best if you want to run a family business?

Studying Business

Many of the skills that are linked to working in a family business are also required in entrepreneurship. Consequently, studying for an advanced degree in entrepreneurship can increase your chances of success when working in a family business.

An entrepreneurship degree is tailored towards people who want to run their own businesses or work in a startup environment. These degrees will generally focus on developing your soft skills, and you’ll acquire many transferable skills ideal for fast-paced, unpredictable work in a family business.

Some of the skills that entrepreneurship degrees prioritise are:

  • Innovation
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Decision making
  • Giving presentations

You’ll also study mandatory modules in practical areas of business on your degree. These practical modules will be linked to the theme of entrepreneurship, such as focusing on startup finance, finding investment, or marketing your business.

For example, you might study areas such as:

  • Finance and economics
  • Marketing
  • Business strategy
  • Negotiating
  • Corporate ethics and sustainability
  • Creating a business plan

All of the skills outlined above are incredibly vital for family businesses. Consequently, an entrepreneurship degree will empower you to lead teams, make high-level decisions about the business, and understand the wider business environment you operate in. All of this will help you make your family business a success.

Where to Study Family Business Management

Many business schools offer dedicated Master’s degrees in entrepreneurship, which are aimed at students with limited work experience (usually 2-5 years). However, if you’re looking for a more advanced degree, you might consider studying for an MBA with a specialisation in entrepreneurship. However, these programmes are generally for students with more advanced work experience.

To help you decide, we’ve outlined three business schools that offer master’s degrees in entrepreneurship. Each of these programmes has a different focus and curriculum, giving you an idea of what an entrepreneurship degree might look like. 

Business School Lausanne


At Business School Lausanne (BSL), students can study a Master of International Business with a specialisation in Entrepreneurial Leadership. The set of mandatory modules on the specialisation address all aspects of founding and leading a startup, including courses on venture funding, marketing strategy, and design thinking.

The course also includes four one-week-long experiential learning projects, which will empower students to create their own companies and practice management skills. On the BSL course, there is also a focus on digital transformation, making this an ideal programme for aspiring startup founders interested in new technology.

Hult International Business School

Hult Business School

Hult International Business School specialises in entrepreneurship management, so you can expect their MSc in Entrepreneurship and Innovation to be hands-on and challenging. You’ll follow three core modules which introduce you to business fundamentals plus all the soft skills required for launching a new business.

Additionally, for part of the one-year course, you’ll be able to follow electives in a range of subjects, including crisis management, supply chain analytics, management psychology, and mergers and acquisitions.

Each module is combined with a practical business challenge, so you’ll leave with a strong foundation in entrepreneurial skills and how to put these into practice.

Alba Graduate Business School


The MSc in Entrepreneurship at Alba Graduate Business School takes an alternative approach to the subject. They focus on ‘effectuation’, an entrepreneurial logic that seeks to breed success in the unstable, early stages of a startup. For this reason, the programme can also give you the skills to guide a family business through a tricky period.

There are 18 core modules on the 14-month programme, including courses in management, financial accounting, digital business strategy, and negotiating. The wide-ranging curriculum also includes a New Venture project and case study analysis.


If you’re planning on joining your family’s company, you’ll benefit greatly from pursuing a Master’s in Entrepreneurship. This course will guide you through all aspects of business, with a special focus on managing startups and SMEs, leading diverse teams, and gaining an innovative mindset.

Unfortunately, no business degree can tell you how to manage family disagreements and drama – that’s just something you’ll have to work out with practice!

Are you ready to boost your business skills and apply for a Master’s in Entrepreneurship? Then check out our blog, 5 Things to Remember When Applying to Business School.

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Written by
Abigail is a freelance writer specialising in higher education. She has lived in London and the Netherlands, and has a Masters degree in American Studies.

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