Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
ENTREPRENEURSHIP / OCT. 10, 2015
version 93, draft 93

Does Having an MBA Make You a Better Entrepreneur?

Many people have debated whether a college education is necessary to be successful in their careers. You can turn on your television or scroll through your Facebook feed to see that it is a topic that won’t be losing steam anytime soon. Some people want education to be more affordable while others want education to be free.

Students do not only go to college for education but also for an awesome experience. College sports and social groups (i.e. fraternities and sororities) are some of the things that really enhance a student’s college experience.

On average, millennials are taking six years to get their bachelor’s degree instead of the usual four years. Surely, it is not because of the parties. No student aspires to be Van Wilder, especially when the government and/or their parents are subsidizing their education. No student wants angry parents or a huge student loan bill. So, if this is true for baccalaureate students, what does that mean for MBA students?

See Also: Top 10 MBA Programs For Graduates And Professionals

Many people believe that an MBA is a good degree to have for excellent career opportunities. The Graduate Management Admission Council indicates that over 100,000 MBA degrees are awarded annually, as reported in The Financial Times. However, most of us know that many people have become amazing entrepreneurs without an MBA degree.

Successful entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Jay-Z have proved that an MBA is not necessary. Bill Gates is a billionaire and Jay-Z is $450 million away from billionaire status. There are also dozens of multimillionaires who have become successful without the help of an MBA. If you had more money than 90% of your country’s population, I don’t think you would be worrying about getting an MBA. Bill and Jay-Z are not worrying about it, so why should you? Is it really worth the worry?

Is It Worth It?

Some people would agree that an MBA may still be worth it if the student is considering a career in management. There are others who would assert that a student’s success is dependent on the prestige of the business school. Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, has been saying it for over a decade.

Unfortunately, the prestigious business schools are often the most expensive. An MBA from a top business school can cost a student nearly $100,000. That’s quite an investment. With that much money, you probably could do better investing it in a property. For the younger crowd, perhaps you may prefer to buy yourself a nice little BMW.

In an article on Forbes, Erika Andersen advises getting an MBA if you do not feel confident in running a business.

MBA Options for Entrepreneurs

An MBA can definitely make some people better entrepreneurs, especially if they do not have the business framework beforehand. As stated previously, such a degree is not very affordable for most people. The University of The People currently has a baccalaureate program in business administration and plans to offer an MBA degree in the future. However, most people want a solution now. So, is there an alternative?

Recently, the University of Illinois made their MBA program available for free through the online education platform Coursera. The only caveat is that students will only receive a certificate after completing each course. Students who are interested in getting the actual MBA degree need to apply for admission and pay about $20,000 in tuition. If you opt for the certificate, don’t feel like it is an inferior option. There is one word that is derived from the word “certificate” that still gives you ‘boss’ status. The word is “certified”. That’s right! You’re certified, baby!

If you do opt for the degree, please remember that paying $20,000 is quite a deal when you consider the average cost of an MBA. Nonetheless, it is an opportunity for students to earn credentials that may help them in the future as entrepreneurs.

Unfortunately, some people cannot even afford $20,000. Hope is not lost for them, however. In fact, there are free and lower cost options that one can utilize as a good substitute for an MBA.

While the University of Illinois is the only school that offers a complete MBA program on their platform, Coursera does provide a variety of select courses from other prestigious universities. Coursera is just one example of platforms that offer massive open online courses (also known as MOOCs). edX and Udacity are some other platforms that offer massive open online courses.

MOOCs encourage you to be a couch potato but you shouldn’t feel bad about it. Like Burger King, you can truly have it your way!

In a Forbes article, Auren Hoffman (a serial entrepreneur and the CEO of LiveRamp) states that the value of the degree is declining but the education and alumni network are crucial.

"Many MBA programs put their best lectures up on the web for free… However, at a top tier MBA program like Stanford or Harvard, the value of [such] a network may outweigh one [that] you could build on your own", says Hoffman.

Education Is Only One Element

With the ever-growing amount of success stories, it is clear that it is not necessary for entrepreneurs to have an MBA. Despite the countless number of successful entrepreneurs, some people still believe that it is necessary to have one. Unfortunately, some business schools end up hurting aspiring entrepreneurs rather than helping them.

"Traditional business school education teaches students how to manage big companies, not how to found start-ups. Some programs do now try to teach entrepreneurial skills but most are struggling to adapt fast enough to meet changing circumstances and demand,” says Brent Hoberman, chairman of Founders Forum. “Some of the most important qualities in an entrepreneur are tenacity, determination and an ability to embrace uncertainty and risk. Business schools can’t teach that."

I happen to agree with Brent, and many others do, too.

See Also: Top 10 Celebrities with PhDs

So, as you can see, this is not a simple yes or no answer. It depends on your personal attributes. Now, there are some people who are not naturally tenacious or business-minded, but that does not mean that they cannot be successful entrepreneurs. In fact, they may be the perfect candidate for an MBA program.

If you want to achieve success as quickly as possible and think about it more than your academic studies, chances are you will do just fine without the degree. You probably would be better off building a business than falling asleep in class.

Some entrepreneurs just don’t place a high emphasis on academic credentials when hiring someone. People like him admire that personal attribute called tenacity. The question is: do you have it?

What do you think? Does having an MBA really make you a better entrepreneur? Or is Jay-Z a better entrepreneur than his MBA-equipped counterparts? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!

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