Should entrepreneurs get an MBA?
This question has long been debated withstrong arguments for and against the idea that entrepreneurs need an MBA.
When we consider many successful entrepreneurs around the world many of them do not have an MBA yet they have been successful with their ventures.
Despite this fact, business schools, particularly the top ones, are great environments that nurture innovation and collaboration, enabling its students to create successful businesses.
Many success stories have emerged from MBA students who have started businesses while in business school.
For example, Matthew Prince and Michelle Zatlyn, alumni of Harvard Business School, used their five-day immersion trip to Silicon Valley while they were HBS students to crystalize their vision to start an internet company, CloudFlare, which is now valued at over a billion dollars.
Poets & Quantshas created a list of top 100 MBA start-ups which was founded since 2009 by MBA students while getting their degree. This list provides details on who the founders are, amount of money they have raised, and where they went to business school.
If you have already started a business, or have a business idea which you would like to start someday, you will find business school to be a great environment that will nurture your entrepreneurial dreams.
Admissions boards are also attracted to entrepreneurs because of their personal character traits (such as guts, persistence, resilience, passion, interpersonal dynamics, etc.) and the unique experiences that they bring to the program.
Here are seven reasons why entrepreneurs should consider going to business school.
Gain a Better Understanding of Business
Many entrepreneurs do not have a formal business education and lack knowledge in particular areas of business such as marketing, finance, accounting, human capital development, etc.
Being able to immerse themselves in courses where they can acquire fundamental knowledge of business is a major attraction for entrepreneurs.
The knowledge that they gain about the different business disciplines will help them better manage their venture in the future.
Access a Robust Network of Classmates & Alumni
Imagine sitting in class surrounded byhundreds of students from different professional backgrounds.
Or having access to tens of thousands of alumni at the click of a few computer keys?
These are some of the benefits entrepreneurs receive when they enroll in business school.
Imagine that you are struggling to figure out exactly how to market a new product that you are looking to bring to market.
Your classmate with many years of marketing expertise is only a few seats away.
Maybe you want to understand how your idea will translate in a new geography?
Your classmates and alumni who have lived and worked in that particular region of the world will serve as a huge asset in helping you answer the questions you are trying to understand.
It is also not uncommon to link up with a fellow business school student who will end up becoming your business partner.
Mentorship and Guidance from Entrepreneurship Professors
Whether its access to numerous leading entrepreneur faculty or the chance to have an entrepreneurship professor as an advisor on a business plan project, MBA students are able to work closely with seasoned faculty with entrepreneurship expertise.
Many of these professorsare rock stars in their industry and it would be nearly impossible to have access to them otherwise.
Having such professors oversee your business venture projects is priceless.
Vast Entrepreneurship Resources on Campus
Business school support goes way beyond access to faculty who are leaders in entrepreneurship.
Whether you are thinking of the entrepreneurship centers on b-school campuses, the entrepreneurship clubs, or the new venture labs, business schools have robust resources to meet the needs of their students interested in starting their own enterprise.
From mentorship and engagement with entrepreneurs who are part of the Entrepreneur in Residence Programs, to one-on-one coaching, MBA students are able to further develop themselves and their business ideas while in business school.
MBA students also have a chance to interact with other students from other departments, via entrepreneur venture studios, fostering more collaborative and interdisciplinary opportunities while in business school.
Stanford GSB Center for Entrepreneurial Studies summarizes the benefits gained from business school in the following statement on their website:
“The CES supports the GSB by demystifying entrepreneurship and cultivating an understanding of the issues facing entrepreneurs and growing companies. We believe the most exciting innovations derive from cross-disciplinary collaboration and encourage this by serving entrepreneurial faculty, graduate students, and alumni from across Stanford, in partnership with the greater entrepreneurial community.”
Test Drive Your Idea Through Business Plan Competitions
All top business schools have a business plan competition.
These competitions are an opportunity for students to get feedback on their start up and to identify any gaps in their business model.
It’s like a rehearsal of sorts where students get to practice their business pitch and hone their message before having to pitch to investors.
The price money that students win is also a major asset and can go a long way in helping them get their business off the ground.
Financial Support & Incentives (via loan forgiveness programs)
An interesting new trend is that some business schools are providing financial support for entrepreneurs.
In the past, business schools provided loan forgiveness to new graduates entering social enterprise careers.
Recently, support is being extended to entrepreneurs who are forfeiting high-paying positions to launch businesses. Harvard Business School’s Loan Reduction Programis one such example. and ABC school’s WWW.
With MBA programs offering such financial support to entrepreneurs, this is certainly good news to those of you who are considering starting a business right after getting your MBA.
Build Your Confidence
How does B-School help entrepreneurs to improve their confidence, you may ask?
For starters, we know that business school attracts very smart individuals.
These smart classmates have many extraordinary achievements. Being in an environment surrounded by highly accomplished classmates who are talented motivates you to elevate your performance and operate at an even higher level.
But it’s more than the people you meet at business school.
The MBA curriculum, from hundreds of cases to hands-on projects, to access to leading business people, goes a long way to build students’ skills and nurture their confidence.
If you are an entrepreneur or an aspiring entrepreneur, there has never been as perfect a time as now to pursue an MBA.
You will find that many of the MBA programs out there are designed to empower you to succeed in your entrepreneurial endeavors given the support you will receive from students, alumni, and faculty, as well as the manyresources that the school provides to nurture entrepreneurship.
Do you still have questions about whether you should apply to business school as an entrepreneur or aspiring entrepreneur? I would like to hear from you.