Expectation vs. Reality: The Pros and Cons of an MBA as an Entrepreneur

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Imagine a world without Apple, Microsoft, or Twitter. None of the CEOs graduated from college for those three giant organizations alone, let alone got an MBA (Master of Business Administration). If Steve Jobs from Apple, Bill Gates from Microsoft, and Jack Dorsey from Twitter can do it without a degree, why should you get an MBA if you're thinking about starting a business?

Let's consider the odds: Back in 2018, CNBC reported, "Nearly 40 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have an MBA on their resume, and graduates earn starting salaries well over six figures." Of course, it's still not the majority, but it is a high enough percentage that makes it worth considering. Even if you're not planning to grow your business to become the next Twitter or Microsoft, an MBA offers unique opportunities to a small business owner.

Expectations of an MBA Graduate

No matter what type of business you own or may start, an MBA teaches critical business strategies, management, and other skills from experienced minds. However, Chris Deardoff of The Market Compass, in a recent article on sidehustlenation.com, suggested that some people are "are put off by MBAs because they automatically label them as being theoretical vs. having real-world experience." Nevertheless, Deardoff concluded that "having one helps someone more than hurts them."

Indeed.com lists some definite pros to having an MBA like:

An MBA improves your "work and personal skills. Modern MBA programs focus on business management, marketing, and problem-solving, making it a valuable degree to have."

"It broadens and deepens your knowledge" with case studies in business which you can apply to your own business.

MBA education provides networking opportunities within the alumni community and professors. These relationships can last a lifetime.

Harvard Business Review emphasizes the importance of the leadership and management areas of an MBA. Years ago, MBA programs only focused on the theory behind the business, but "MBA programs responded by expanding their offerings in areas such as strategy, organizational behavior, and leadership."

Realities of an MBA Graduate

As an entrepreneur, it's essential to recognize all that going for an MBA means for you, including the finances. Education can be costly. As the Indeed.com article further states, "An MBA can cost up to $200,000 with several of the top-rated business schools' MBA programs costing even more."

Because you've got to consider the cost of a degree and if you can receive funding, make sure the MBA program offers you the chance to build and grow your business afterward. Take a self-assessment of what you hope to gain from an MBA and investigate the different MBA programs. Because you're already interested in entrepreneurship, the MBA program you choose needs to focus on areas that will help you long-term. Consider if the program offers:

Practical leadership and management training with an entrepreneurial focus

Support during the program and then after graduation

Courses that expand your critical thinking skills plus encourage a strategic mindset for business

Alumni benefits like networking and associations

Since it's so easy to start a business today, you may be hesitant to delay starting a business and going for an MBA. However, today's MBA programs focus much more on the practical side of the business, like teaching leadership and entrepreneurial skills. An online program also offers a great deal more convenience, especially for those who are juggling many responsibilities at work and at home.

In closing, imagine if Steve Jobs or Bill Gates had finished their education. With advanced leadership skills, management training, and strategic thinking, they may have experienced fewer bumps in the road. So make the decision that's right for you both financially and for your future business. With the right MBA program, you could take your business to heights you can't even imagine yet.

Image via Unsplash

by Derek Goodman