Do you Need an MBA to Succeed as an Entrepreneur?

As someone who started out in Corporate America, received an MBA and is now an entrepreneur, here are a few things to consider before heading back to campus.

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Some successful entrepreneurs have a master’s in business administration; others don’t.

But many aspiring business owners still trade in their pinstripe suits and briefcases for hooded sweatshirts and backpacks in pursuit of an MBA degree — including me. As someone who started out in Corporate America, received an MBA and is now an entrepreneur, here are a few things to consider before heading back to campus.

The MBA Disadvantage for Entrepreneurs

I’ll be the first to honestly say it: having an MBA can put you at a significant disadvantage in becoming an entrepreneur.

Why? Simply because of what getting into an MBA program represents:

1. You are giving up a lot of your time. 

Every minute you spend working on your personal venture is a minute of salary you’re foregoing. Your opportunity cost increases once you have an MBA because you can command a higher salary in the marketplace,  so it’s more expensive to take an entrepreneurial risk and start a business of your own afterwards.

2. There’s pressure from groupthink mentality.

MBAs are notorious for groupthink mentality, and after graduating from the program, it’s very hard to stay true to your own path while your friends are skyrocketing through their corporate careers, living comfortable lifestyles and enjoying the status that comes with a prestigious firm. In the meantime, you are CEO of a two-person company and eating ramen noodles. Peer pressure doesn’t only happen in high school.

3. Lastly, MBAs are taught to be fed, not to hunt.

Yes, you’ll graduate with a repertoire of great tools, fancy communication skills, and a heck of a network.

However, there aren’t any classes that specialize in cold calling customers, persuading skeptical investors, resourcefulness or bootstrapping — the skills startup founders need to thrive.

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