Would an MBA better prepare me to start a business?

I have been debating about whether to go to business school or just start my own business. I am wondering if business school is worth the time and money. I know I would make great connections and probably learn a lot, but how much would it really help?

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8

During my current 20-year journey of startups (both my own and helping others), I got my MBA in Entrepreneurship, so I can tell you my experience pre-MBA and post-MBA. I decided to pursue an MBA after about 10 years of startup experience. Why? - as someone with a pure technical background, I wanted to (1) learn the fundamentals of business, (2) be able to look at companies with both a technical and a business point-of-view (helpful when talking to investors), and (3) broaden my network (my contacts were almost exclusively in technical fields).

Should you get an MBA? - it really depends on your needs and your desire for learning. If networking is your goal, then there are plenty of networking opportunities now to make contacts. These opportunities will be much more cost effective than an MBA. Depending on what you desire to learn, there are numerous online resources that may suit your needs rather than a full MBA program. The time and money spent on an MBA program could be spent on starting your company.

One advantage of pursuing an MBA while developing a startup are the numerous business plan competitions and other startup assistance programs available at universities. Depending on where you pursue your MBA, there could be many resources available to help you start your business. Also, through your MBA classes you may end up working with a potential co-founder. However, you can access many similar resources through accelerator programs (depending on your startup idea).

Back to my experience, I feel the most benefits I have received from getting my MBA are (1) the know-how to fully understand the financials behind a business, (2) the ability to analyze a business and it's products/services from different perspectives (i.e., marketing, accounting, operations), and (3) the introduction to business mentors.

Good luck!
Gareth.

6

No. There are thousands of people out there who believe they deserve to be listened to in business because they have an MBA.

I have found that an MBA makes you no better qualified to conduct business, but can (and should) enhance any skills you have and allow you to develop some that sometimes only come with experience at a senior level.

It became the default, but I am not so sure it is as important in the UK/Europe these days, though that may still be different in the US. After all, it's a lucrative element of the education system, so if people will spend so much money on one, it has to mean something, right?

I don't have a MBA, nor would I study one. I can't think of anything more dispiriting. However, from those I have worked with, it probably improved a good candidate, but it cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

I have met far more of the latter who know their way around a spreadsheet, but have no concept of business beyond theory and in many cases don't even understand the business they are in. They simply wade in and start applying 'metrics' (a favourite word of the MBA candidate/graduate) as if they are axioms.

I'm with Robert. Invest in yourself, not the college peddling a course that may only make a difference – in a negative sense – to your overall wealth.

6

I have an MBA and I own my own business. I found an MBA very helpful to advance me in middle and upper management before opening my own business Not knowing the type of business or your background, I would suggest you network with others that have done what you intend to do and with those already are in other businesses that can offer you good advice. One of the greatest compliments you can offer to someone is to ask for their help. That demonstrates that you truly respect their opinion.

Today I have a half dozen mentors that have been of tremendous help to me and continue to offer me advice. I also take pride in helping others as a mentor. Being an entrepreneur has risks, but the freedom and rewards have been very good to me. Potentially they can be for you too, but you need to go into this with your eyes wide open. Networking with others, understanding those risks, developing an operating plan (check these out on the internet), being flexible and adjusting to what works and does not work will be of great value to you.

Having had the MBA and worked my way to executive level and now being on my own for over three years, I appreciate the education I had along the way If you have the passion, persistence and patience it takes to run your own business with your trusted network, don't be afraid.

In the next generation, I see many that have college degrees that are underemployed. I also MBA's that have punched that ticket, but do not necessarily have the drive and passion.

My son went to college for a year and then opted to go into the Army when things were hot in Iraq. He joined special forces. He is a disabled vet today. He still only has one year of college. Today he is the team lead of a high risk group at the fourth largest bank in the world. He is very smart analytically. The rest of his group have college degrees in accounting and finance and many have MBA's. Again he only has one year of college under his belt, but he has a passion to help and continually learn. He has taught me a lot about what you can overcome if you have the passion and persistence to make it happen.

Define what you need to do. Explore your alternatives. Determine the impacts of those alternatives. Evaluate those impacts. Then make the decision that is best for you.

Good luck with whatever choice you make.

Today is Thanksgiving day and I am truly grateful for so much. If you focus on what you have rather than what you would like to have, your happiness is guaranteed. When you find the job that you are truly passionate about it is no longer a job. My wife says I don't really work I just have fun. She is right.

Warmest regards,

6

An MBA is simply a foundation in information. Management, leadership and entreprenurship are arts that must ve practiced to build experience. I will often take experience over a degree and most smart people will. Given the choice of your mother using a recent graduate doctor who was top of his class, or one with 20 years experience doing that exact operation which would you choose? Even it the second doctor was a "C" student I would take him without a blink.
See you know this when it is important.

So getting an MBA does not hurt but I suspect you would learn a lot more and create more value in the real world too. I have Harvard MBAs and PhDs go through my CEO Boot Camp and often the question is: "Why did I not learn this in my six figure MBA program?" Unfortunately the answer is only experience teaches this and most professors are teaching, not getting real-world experience.

Read all these books over a year or two and understand them and you will be in the top 5-10% of entrepreneurs: http://clevelenterprises.com/Recommended_Reading.htm
When you have that foundation and are ready to start a company, then read The Startup Manual which is a step-by-step process and models for designing businesses, launching them and operating them for the first year or two. Here:
http://startupplanet.com/startup_manual.htm

There is no shortcut to rewiring your brain, literally neuroplasticity, to do any complex art.

5

Start your business, hire an MBA
I've been advising owners of growing businesses for over 20 years, and I see no correlation between having an MBA and small business success.

5

It depends on what you know already, and what you want to do. I have an MBA and I value the education I received, but I feel it better prepared me for corporate America than it did for entrepreneurship. MBA programs and Entrepreneurship programs in academia teach theory...and nothing teaches you better than practical application! I'd need to know more to help you, but based solely on your question, as phrased above, I would have to say that for access to connections and learning you're better working for a company that does what you want to do, spending time at an organization like SCORE, networking with other business owners in your community, or finding a business consultant who can help you with voids, next steps, and accountability. To your SWEET Success!

4

Looking at my friends, I'll say - it doesn't help to start a business, but surely helps to run a business when it becomes more or less stable. You learn when to stop being overly aggressive and keep the right pace of growing and keeping the processes stable and good, without leaving out any important things. MBA is great when you have some amount of practical knowledge as a base, to put it together in one framework and enrich.

4

NO not at all...read the book Think and Grow Rich...that book will help answer your own question.

4

Hi Barbara, I thought the same thing. So I got that MBA. I started a business. Perhaps it was my graduating class, perhaps it was only one professor who ran an independent real estate firm, or the professor who opened a failed marketing agency, but I cannot say truthfully my MBA helped me start a
business. I can truthfully say the MBA helped me design an efficient business but only after figuring out the core requirements in Revenue generation. If your heart is set on a MBA find a university specializing in business ownership, development where you can pay your tuition out of that entity with a product/service the market will buy.

Hope this helps

4

As a person who has an MBA and who has had his own marginally-successful consulting businesses, I would say that the correct answer depends on your situation. There are thousands of people without MBAs who have started and run successful businesses, and there are lots of people with MBAs who have started and failed at running businesses. In addition, biz school costs a lot of money and there is the time value of money as a result of attending biz school. In other words, you not only pay many thousands in tuition and living expenses, but you also sacrifice the salary you gave up to attend, unless you go part-time.

So, the critical questions are:
1. Is your business idea one for which you feel passionate and which you have done the due diligence to make sure that it is commercially feasible? You don't need an MBA to do that. You can easily learn about market sizing and business planning on the Internet.
2. Do you have savings or some other source of money to finance your biz? Sure, you can start in your garage, but unless your product is your brain or brawn, you need money to buy supplies, a laptop PC, and raw materials.
3. Do you have money to pay for food and shelter during the time before your biz becomes self sustaining? You should plan for at least 18 months.
4. Is your spouse/partner supportive of your plan to start a business and does he/she understand the sacrifices involved?
If you can answer "Yes" to the above questions, use your money for your biz and forget about the MBA.
If your answer is no to any of the above is "No", you either need to work on turning them into "yes" or you can consider business school if you have the money or can borrow it. An MBA is no ticket to a successful business, though you will have access to faculty and colleagues who may be able to get through the start up hoops faster.

Probably not the answer you wanted, but it is my observations after earning my MBA at a top school while working full time, then transitioning into the biz world.

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