Do you need an MBA to become an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneur studying MBA

Is an MBA useful for entrepreneurs? It’s difficult to generalise, of course, but many people favour studying for an MBA to develop the skills to succeed.

Who is the MBA for?

The abbreviation MBA stands for Master of Business Administration. It’s a degree that aims to furnish students with all the knowledge they’ll need to flourish at the top of the fast-moving world of business.

It’s aimed squarely at those who aspire to become leaders. Typically, it involves studying a wide variety of techniques with a focus on how they are applied in practical terms. When you do an MBA, you can expect to learn about elements of running a business such as how to source investment, manage working capital, and put together an effective marketing strategy.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that there are a variety of MBA programs, so it’s worth checking the details of each course carefully and assessing which course is likely to be right for your lifestyle and goals.

The benefits of an MBA for entrepreneurs

There are a number of advantages to an MBA that may not be obvious at first glance.

Gain skills in financial, marketing, and operations management

Firstly, studying for an MBA will fill in the gaps in your business knowledge, including quite a few you may not be aware you have. Typically, you’ll learn about current best practices in core disciplines such as financial management, marketing theory, and handling day-to-day operational challenges.

The key point to remember is that when you start your business, you’ll be aiming to scale it up as soon as you can. That means you’ll be wearing many different hats as the roles you need to take on change.

Let’s take Mike as an example. An entrepreneur based in the UK, he used a small business accounting app to manage his expenses, invoicing, and stock control when he first set up his cake delivery business. Everything worked smoothly because he was comfortable being in full control of every aspect of operations.

Pretty soon, the business was booming, and he was taking on new staff as he expanded. But at this point, he found his inexperience in people management began to show. His staff turnover rate was high, and he realised he needed to broaden his knowledge about how to craft a well-motivated team.

Studying for an MBA would have helped Mike avoid this problem in the first place. Reputable MBA programs not only sharpen your skills in technical areas such as data-driven decision making and strategy, but also give you the opportunity to develop those crucial management skills that can make or break a business.

Acquire easier access to funding and resources from investors

You may find your first investors among the wider body of MBA graduates from your course. And even if that’s not the case, learning how to secure funding is a core part of the MBA curriculum. You’re likely to discover whole new avenues you had never previously considered.

For an entrepreneur, this has to be one of the biggest upsides to the MBA. After all, finding the resources to get started is usually one of the biggest hurdles to jump when you’re establishing a business. You can have the best idea in the world, but if no-one will back it with hard cash, you’ll get nowhere.

Become a more marketable entrepreneur to investors

Of course, investors are much more likely to put their hand in their pocket if they believe not just in your idea, but in you as well. And that’s one of the best things about having those three letters after your name. It boosts your cultural capital and the respect people have for you, even before they know anything else about you.

Alternative ways to become an entrepreneur without an MBA

Not everyone has the time or inclination to pursue an MBA, though. So what else can you do to make your entrepreneurial dream a reality? From alternative Entrepreneurship Business courses to on-the-job experience, there are a variety of ways to achieve your goals.

Search for business courses that better suit your needs

First of all, don’t forget that there are plenty of other Business courses available that will equip you with many of the skills you need, even if the full MBA isn’t for you. These days, you can access a large number of courses online too, so you don’t even need to live anywhere near the campus.

This could be right for you if, for example, you’re only interested in learning about a specific subject area rather than getting a broad-based overview of business practice.

Acquire knowledge from experience

One of the big advantages of doing an MBA is that it often provides opportunities for relevant work experience that are difficult to arrange otherwise. But it’s by no means impossible to do this yourself. It can be a good idea to work in the area you’re hoping to launch your own product or service in first to learn the ropes.

As an example, imagine that Rebecca has been working in retail since she was 16 and now has 10 years of experience. Throughout her time working for a variety of different fashion stores she’s seen different elements of the business, gained experience and made loads of connections.

Although she hasn’t had formal training, these experiences and connections are invaluable. Rebecca has already cultivated support and resources she needs so to help make opening her own boutique a success.

Focus on self-studying and learning the necessary skills

Knowledge is knowledge. If you’re self-motivated enough, it’s possible to succeed without formal study.

The first step is to establish the areas you need to focus on. Know nothing about marketing? Look up the website of the professional marketers’ association in your region. You’ll find plenty of resources to begin to learn all about how it works.

Alternatively, look at short courses and on-demand short courses to fill your knowledge gaps in a way that fits with your schedule.

Remember our friend Mike the cake delivery entrepreneur? This is exactly what he did. He identified areas he was weak in and got to work developing the skills he needed to thrive.

To start with, he had no knowledge of how to file tax returns, so he used self assessment accounting software to help him do it. And realising his people management skills were lacking, he set about reading extensively on the subject so he could pick up a few tips. He now employs over 50 people and is going from strength to strength.

Do you need an MBA?

In the end, only you can make the decision about whether an MBA is the right choice as you begin your entrepreneurial life. There’s no doubt it can give you a very useful hand up. The skills and connections you’ll develop during an MBA program will stand you in excellent stead as you move forward.

The most important thing is to consider what works for you. Remember that there’s a variety of ways to achieve your goals–whether that means fitting an MBA into your busy life as an entrepreneur with an MBA on demand, or focusing solely on building your business and making the connections you need to succeed. Get that right, and you’re halfway there.

That said, entrepreneurs can and do succeed every day thanks to their own business acumen.

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