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People sometimes ask me if I’ve found having an MBA helpful in starting businesses.

So is it?

If you’re thinking of starting a business, here are seven reasons why you might not want to do an MBA first:

  1. MBA Costs are Potential Startup Capital: Doing an MBA is expensive. If you’ll be putting your own money towards it, you might want to use that money as capital for your business instead. Even if you lose it all, what you learn by having a go may well be an even better education.
  2. Drive is Important: If you’re itching to start a business, that’s a good sign! Entrepreneurship takes passion and energy. You may have the hunger now and less of it later.
  3. Timing is Important: A large part of successful business is good timing. If you’ve got an idea and you know the time is right for it now, waiting may not be a good move.
  4. MBA Students May Not be the Right Partners: MBA students can be smart and analytical, but they’ve often grown used to corporate environments where lots of day-to-day chores are done for them. In small businesses, you need people who’ll pitch in and get their hands dirty. That’s not always a good fit. So your prospective fellow MBA students may not necessarily be the best people to team up with. (It depends what sort of business you’re looking to build.)
  5. Learning Isn’t Doing: The stuff you learn during an MBA is interesting, but it’s always going to be more theoretical than practical. There’s nothing like doing something for real to really learn about it.
  6. Large Companies are not Small Companies: The truth is, most MBA courses are geared mainly towards producing executives for large companies, management consultancies and investment banks. Learning about complicated financial modelling and the challenges of large companies can be great fun, but it’s also a far cry from the implementation skills you need when running a small company.
  7. Employer Lock-In: If your employer is willing to fund your MBA, lucky you. Many people would envy your position. But beware: ultimately, your time is what matters the most. Think carefully before you get into a situation where you have to work for a company for a certain period of time after your MBA. You’ll be postponing your foray into entrepreneurship even further.

There are, of course, good reasons to do an MBA, too. For me personally, I think having an MBA has been useful. I’ll say more about that in a future post.

How about you? Are you thinking of doing an MBA? How are you weighing up this question?

Or have you done an MBA already? What advice would you give to someone following in your footsteps?

Leave a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Creative Commons License photo credit: mark.hogan



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