Why Aspiring Entrepreneurs Should Go to Business School for an MBA

Why Aspiring Entrepreneurs Should Go to Business School for an MBA main image

Resistance to formal education when launching a startup is actually laughable. After all, recent research suggests as much as 75 percent of startups fail. As a result, any training or preparation that can increase the odds of achievement should be welcome.

In addition, business schools have spent years responding to market demand. They continue to invest in expert professors, academic research, and valuable resources related to entrepreneurship. Some of their graduates have had startup success.

One of the more famous examples is Stitch Fix, launched by Katrina Lake, who tested her business idea throughout her time at Harvard Business School. She didn’t always take the expert advice and even ignored one professor who said she should not own all the inventory herself. But she has expressed to Harvard Business Review that she saw business school as the risk-averse path to entrepreneurship.

With just a bit of reflection, one will quickly recognize that aspiring entrepreneurs can help themselves by enrolling in graduate business schools, especially one of the top programs. Here is what they can gain from going to b-school before launching their startup.

Frameworks and foundation

Students in the classroom learn about the basics of business management, such as finance, operations management and marketing, and also take electives relevant to entrepreneurship.

These courses can teach them how to vet their business ideas and seek and find investors. Most programs also offer training in leadership and teamwork, two skills vital to helming any organization.

By gaining frameworks and a foundation in general management, aspiring entrepreneurs can more easily navigate the early days of startup life. They also can learn how to bounce back when things don’t go as planned, which always happens.

Most importantly, this training gives them the chance to test their ideas in classwork or business plan competitions. In this safe environment, students don’t have to lose the shirt off their backs, and they have the ability to adjust accordingly before actually launching.

In fact, in 2013, well-known entrepreneur Steve Blank made a splash with an article in Harvard Business Review about ditching the business plan and giving students the chance to actually implement their ideas to see if they work before officially launching.

He continues to teach this “lean start-up” method at top business schools, such as the University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business. These kinds of experiences are invaluable because it increases the likelihood of finding success. 

A vast and connected network

One of the major benefits of attending graduate business school is connecting to an already established network. At most schools, if a student reaches out to others in the community, the person on the other end will positively respond. MIT Sloan School of Business famously pairs students from the engineering school with business students to commercialize inventive technologies.

As a result, aspiring entrepreneurs gain access to potential partners, employees, and investors. For some students, even those going into other fields, the network alone is enough of a reason to attend business school.

Access to finances

Being part of a business school means having access to different avenues of finance than other entrepreneurs. Some schools actually invest their own funds or resources into student ventures. You can learn more about this in our article on why business schools are investing in student start-ups.

Often, schools also put students in touch with venture capitalists and potential investors. Some schools even have incubators for students with ideas for new businesses, providing resources including workspaces.

A backup plan

The harsh fact is that most startups fail. So, an MBA degree can be a helpful tool. Graduates can use this qualification to get a job right out of school if they want to gain experience before starting their own company.

Or, if they opt to launch a startup as a newly minted grad, they can use the degree to gain employment if things don’t work out.

Also, the degree serves as a validation of their legitimacy. It tells investors they have a foundation in general management. They know there’s a network behind them. It makes them look like a more serious businessperson. All of this means there’s no question an MBA degree gives graduates clout and improves their chances of success. 

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

Nunzio Quacquarelli

Nunzio is the founder and CEO of QS. Following completion of his own MBA from the Wharton School, he has gone on to become a leader in education management with over 25 years of experience in the industry. He is truly passionate about education and firmly believes in the QS mission to help young people to fulfill their potential through educational achievement, international mobility and career development. 

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