The Business.com community asked if an MBA is necessary for entrepreneurial success. We provided expert input.
More business professionals are pursuing higher levels of education today. A prime example is the MBA, a degree many business majors and aspiring entrepreneurs believe is their key to success.
However, is all that time and money spent earning the degree worth it? Our Business.com community is curious to know. In particular, Barbara Ciosek, Business.com community member, asked: "Would an MBA better prepare me to start a business?"
We asked experts for their input. Here are three questions to ask yourself before deciding to pursue an MBA.
What type of learner are you?
You've probably experienced many types of people in high school and college, enough to realize that a higher education isn't for everyone. However, that's not to say that you can't gain knowledge outside of the classroom.
Everyone is different, and not everyone is a "student." According to Grayson Lafrenz, CEO of Power Digital Marketing, there are two types of learners: those who learn by doing and those who learn through schooling.
The first type of learner likely won't benefit from an MBA, Lafrenz said. They'd gain more insight and experience diving into their industry than extending their education. They'll learn hands-on while developing relationships with experts in all industries, from accounting and finance to sales and marketing.
The second type of learner, however, requires more of a structured approach to learning, which an MBA program can offer, said Lafrenz.
"It really depends on your needs and your desire for learning," Gareth Hughes, Business.com community member and president of Caizio, LLC, offered in response to Ciosek's inquiry. "If networking is your goal, then there are plenty of networking opportunities now to make contacts. These opportunities will be much more cost effective than an MBA."
Additionally, you can find additional resources online rather than committing to a full MBA program, Hughes added.
"The time and money spent on an MBA program could be spent on starting your company," he said.
What industry will you pursue?
Depending on the field you're studying or planning to open your business in, you might benefit more from an MBA. For instance, Lafrenz said if you want to be in private equity, investment banking or venture capital, you should highly consider an MBA program.
Or, "if you don’t go after an MBA, you will want to build a reputation for yourself as a successful entrepreneur and executive," he added. "Otherwise it will be hard of you to land those types of roles."
However, it's not impossible. Regardless of the industry, if you have passion, talent and knowledge to support your endeavor, don't be afraid to take a leap – especially if you feel your idea is timely.
For instance, if you're an aspiring tech business owner looking to bring a new development to the marketplace, you shouldn't hold back or wait until you've earned your MBA to launch your career. Draft a business plan, attend networking events and trust you'll find success. You'll never know if you don't try; and it's never too late to earn that degree if the attempt fails.
What type of MBA program will you choose?
Will you choose a program that offers unique resources and networking opportunities? Will you choose an accelerated one sponsored by your current company? Will it be entirely online?
"Depending on where you pursue your MBA, there could be many resources available to help you start your business," said Hughes. "Also, through your MBA classes, you may end up working with a potential co-founder. However, you can access many similar resources through accelerator programs (depending on your startup idea)."
There are many MBA programs to choose from, and you shouldn't take the decision lightly. For instance, some companies, like Power Digital Marketing, offer an MBA program for the growth and development of their staff. Seize opportunities that make sense to you. Do your research and find what best suits your career and personal goals – and go from there.