So Does an Entrepreneur Even Need an MBA?
We hear this one a lot. And many are surprised by our answer.
Does an Entrepreneur Need an MBA?
No, of course not (But the right one can sure make big a difference).
It is true that anyone can become an entrepreneur when starting a new business or endeavor. Many fail, many perform adequately, and some thrive. There are many routes to entrepreneurship and an MBA isn’t a required legal step in the process. With no training, even many children become entrepreneurs, at least for a time, when they first place a card table and jug of lemonade by the curb. And the media celebrates the exceptional success stories of executives like Michael Dell, Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerberg, all who succeeded without MBAs (or even college educations in some instances). It rarely tells the story of entrepreneurs who toiled only to fail to sell their product or to fall into a self-employment trap.
So in the most basic sense, it’s true that an MBA degree is not required to be an entrepreneur. It definitely can improve your odds for entrepreneurial success, but having an MBA does not guarantee it.
But Is That the Right Question?
When potential students ask us if entrepreneurs need an MBA, we know that they’re really trying to make the best decision for themselves and their circumstances. Whether they are looking at Acton or a traditional MBA program, their final conclusions should reflect their individual experiences, goals and circumstances.
At Acton, we don’t find much use for questions that produce one-size-fits-all answers. Instead we want to dig deeper. Our real-life entrepreneur teachers teach by asking questions, not by lecturing. We know that the choices an entrepreneur makes about his or her own life, and subsequent entrepreneurial journey, are among the deepest, most personal decisions to be made.
The decision to pursue an entrepreneur MBA, at Acton or elsewhere, is a uniquely personal one. It should be made with a real understanding of your goals, strengths, weaknesses and aspirations. If you’re weighing a similar decision, answering the following questions for yourself may help you get closer to a conclusion.
- Will an MBA help me become a successful entrepreneur? Will I reach this goal sooner or later without an MBA? Will my likelihood of success be higher or lower without an MBA education? Will it improve my odds or decrease them?
- Which do I value more, the MBA degree or the MBA education that it represents? Is it knowledge, confidence or the credential that I’m seeking?
- Will an MBA help me reduce my risks as en entrepreneur?What preventable mistakes and missteps might an entrepreneurship curriculum help me avoid? What level of success do I want to achieve? How will I know if I’ve reached it?
- Should I consider a traditional MBA program, an entrepreneurship track at a traditional business school, or Acton’s dedicated entrepreneurship program? What are the unique benefits offered by each of them? Which are most important to me? Why?
- If I already have or create a successful business, am I prepared to lead, manage and grow it? Do I know its value in the marketplace if I were to sell it?
- If I do get an MBA, what impact do I expect that to have on my career and entrepreneurial journey? How about my personal life and family?
Lessons for Entrepreneurs
We clearly believe in the value of advanced business education and our entrepreneur-focused curriculum, taught by real entrepreneurs using the Socratic method. Our students learn valuable lessons in our classroom and outside of it by engaging hundreds of real-life business problems through active discussion and hard work. It is purpose-designed to help our entrepreneur students realize the benefit of the investment they make in an MBA education.