Do Entrepreneurs Need a BA or an MBA?

Posted On: April 22, 2019
Confident and successful

Some would be entrepreneurs wonder if they need a Bachelors degree or an MBA to succeed in business. As a business leader who has built several businesses from the ground up without a degree, my answer would be no. You don’t need an MBA to become an entrepreneur. Anyone can look around and see all the successful entrepreneurs who don’t have degrees. 

Skills versus Education

Governments spend a lot of resources training their troops. They equip them with all the skills and strategies they will need in a combat situation. While this training is valuable, it is the soldier’s wits and strength of heart that determine how well he would do in a real combat situation. 

The most important skills for entrepreneurial success can be learned even without sitting in a class room. These are things like self awareness, self confidence, self motivation, perseverance, initiative, and social skills.

Confident

Successful entrepreneurs are confident in their own abilities. They don’t spend too much time second guessing themselves. They are self motivated. They can keep on working just for the joy of the achievement itself. They have perseverance. They don’t easily get tired. They just keep going even when the initial excitement of a new idea has worn off. Barbara Corcoran says that the most important thing is ‘how well you can take a hit.’ In other words how well you keep going when you face disappointment, opposition, or failure. Successful entrepreneurs fail. The only difference is that they do not stop to feel sorry for themselves.

Successful entrepreneurs do not allow the fear of failure to keep them from implementing their ideas. They don’t hesitate to take advantage of opportunities. They know that waiting too late to take advantage of an opportunity can be costly. They have great social skills. They can have the ability to influence others and they can effectively inspire and manage groups of people.

Can an MBA be bad for you?

Some people have argued that an MBA can make it more difficult to become a successful entrepreneur. Getting into the nitty-gritty of business risk and financials can instill the fear of risk into a budding entrepreneur and that fear can kill the entrepreneurial spirit. MBA’s are taught to measure the ROI of everything. Not many MBAs would make some of the audacious business decisions that have been made by people like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. 

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Debt

College loans can also kill your entrepreneurial dream. If you are coming out of business school with debt, it becomes even more difficult to take risks. 

Skills

Skills and not qualifications are what distinguish successful entrepreneurs. These skills may or may not be learned in a class rooms. These skills include the ability to take risks, the ability to implement ideas, the ability to lead, and the fortitude to keep going despite the challenges that will come your way. Entrepreneurship is not as exciting or sexy as it is made out to be. It takes grit to continue when things are mundane or challenging.

How an MBA can help

Going to a business school is not a necessity but it does have some benefits. For one, people who went to well-known business schools have an easier time networking because of the strong network of alumni. These networks can be useful in gaining investors for your startup. MBA’s are trained in useful skills like strategic planning and execution. Business schools can also give you access to mentors – although you can still find mentors without going for an MBA. Education offers a backup plan. For example, with a Masters or PhD, you can teach. Someone who does not have a degree will not have the opportunity to teach. Even though an MBA is not necessary, it can be valuable. MBA students get plenty of training in presenting their ideas effectively and some business schools host start up boot camps for their students who wish to become entrepreneurs. 

Although again I am an example of how you can still do this. I have been a senior lecturer at College, I wanted to give back and I did, I achieved this without a degree and I achieved this through experience and reputation. I did take a teaching examination while I was teaching to establish the ground rules but to be honest it was easy to do. Teaching is rewarding but compared to running a business it is a walk in a park experience.

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