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Would an MBA better prepare me to start a business?

I have been debating about whether to go to business school or just start my own business. I am wondering if business school is worth the time and money. I know I would make great connections and probably learn a lot, but how much would it really help?

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The smaller the business and the weaker the competition is, the less important the MBA is. Some businesses categories are dominated by very sophisticated players and I wouldn't even consider attempting without one, especially if your geo market is national or global. But for other niche or local businesses, the MBA may be overkill and you can do very well with common sense, effort and using your time and money to build, brand and market the newco.


You can get all the info you need on an MBA here: http://personalmba.com


Yes. MBA would help you better learn more about specific functions within your business - Marketing, Finances, etc. The program I went to was focused on MBAs for entrepreneurs. Further, some MBA programs can also help with growing your network which may be crucial for getting funding, securing team, etc.

However. You absolutely don't need to have an MBA to start a business. This really just depends on your own personal skill set, the type of venture you are looking to start, finances, and other factors.

My first business I started pre-MBA, my second post-MBA. I felt like my MBA helped me greatly in numerous different areas.

-Joe Shiraz


An MBA is good if you work for a company . If you would like to advance your career then, is worth the investment. I have to agree with Robert Donnelly; you are better off using the money to start and grow your own business. Although starting a business entails many long hours and sacrifices. It will depend on what you really love doing.


@Robert: Unless one goes to a top-tier school--Dartmouth, Harvard, Stanford, Chicago, etc.--the MBA is overrated. I have one, so I know whereof I speak. It is increasingly looked on w/disdain. One wag said MBA stood for 'Minimal Business Acumen'; another said it stood for 'Maximum Business Arrogance.'

@Barbara: As Robert noted, the MBA is unlikely to be much help in starting your own business. A quality MBA program costs an arm and a leg (and then some), and as he rightly noted, that money will earn a bigger return in growing or launching a business.

What you don't say is what your background is. On a scale of 1 (zilch) to 7 (expert), how much do you know about marketing? About economics? About finance? About IT? About accounting? About HR and management? And how much do you like selling? If you can provide some 'scaled' responses to those questions, I might have an inexpensive idea or two that you would find helpful. But I need to know more about your background first.

Also, are you an expert in something that people would want to buy? Have yu been successful in your career so far? What is that career, incidentally? Do you have real passion for a particular business idea? (Up to a point, passion trumps technical business know-how.)


Barbara, you've got lots of good answers, but here is my two cents from the perspective of someone with three degrees (PhD, MBA, BSEE) who spent a decade in academia but even more time working on my own and mentoring start-ups...there are a handful of truly exceptional MBA programs (e.g., Stanford, Babson, MIT) with an emphasis in entrepreneurship that are actually comparable to being admitted to an incubator -- very hands on with great access to local mentors and networks. Unfortunately the vast majority of entrepreneurship "programs" and "majors" are drive by in nature (lots of war story based lectures, inspirational or "how to" readings, and guest speakers) where your culminating experience will be an exercise in creative writing -- producing a business plan where no one expects that you actually tested / validated your business model and actually will execute the plan. If your goal is to get educated on how to develop / validate a business model and launch and grow a business, there are a lot of local economic development resources that might be available to you (depending on where you live). As some have noted, more formal education on business / management may be of value to you down the road as your business matures (especially if you lack experience in finance, acctg, mgmt., mktg, ops, etc.), but not so much in the early stages when you are trying to figure out if you actually have something worth launching. Here are a couple of books that might help you kick things off: Just Start by Schlesinger, Kifer, and Brown, and Business Model Generation by Osterwalder and Pigneur. Good Luck!


Knowledge is king here on this question, "whether it be knobler in the eyes of man", I should say as an MBA grad, makes no difference really, street smarts can be an overwhelming factor as well, as classroom intelligence. If you feel you are ready for the challenges, it is the knowledge the takes over. But it is always a good thing to get the schooling views, but you can do both, I did. I opened my first business entity and went back to school.
Continuing education is a marvelous thing, but I know many educators, and many CEOs and both will tell you, as I am. If you are up for the challenges, go for it.
Formal education can show you how to approach these challenges, give you insight as to where to look for answers, but only hands on experience will give you the means to offset the changes as you find them.
Lastly, as I climb down off this soap box, Cash is the grease that feeds you and your family, so make some grease..


Being skilled in all [or most] aspects of business management will benefit the entrepreneur, obtaining the knowledge can be achieved through practical experience and reading relevant books. I recommend "The 10-day MBA" by Steven Silbiger [ISBN 0 7499 2700 3]. Even though business perceptions are subject to continual change, the basic principles remain. Unfortunately most new business owners in South Africa today start a business with some capital and an idea; some only have scant experience in the particular industry and can seldom adapt to potential challenges such as poor economics, market competitiveness, and so forth. Professional training and experience is essential, as is lifelong learning, to grow a company.


Having an MBA would be useful to get the background and practice to know the concepts of market research, business planning, marketing, sales and forecasting, and through the work you would be doing in case studies you would learn best practices.

But, having the MBA is really not going to help you much in the day-to-day challenges of starting and running a business. Once you have created a well thought out plan for your business, get a good coach/mentor to guide you, especially if you have never run a business.

Your chances of failure in the first year are 85%, and that happens because business owners make too many mistakes. With a mentor, you can take the edge off making those mistakes and greatly improve your chances of success.


Unless you are going to Harvard or Stanford, paying for an MBA on your own dime is probably not worth it. I got mine at night, subsidized by my employers, and it is great to have. Dropping out of the workforce for two years and incurring debt? No thank you. Instead, look at the specific business you are interested in starting and think about what specific skills you need that you don't already have (and that you won't just outsource). You can probably find a certification class that lasts less than a week or even a MOOC that will cover those topics.

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