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Should an Entreprenuer go to B-School

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Should an Entreprenuer go to B-School [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2008, 08:26
My question is simple (eventhough the answer may not be):
Should an entreprenuer who has forged a successful startup leave working in his startup and go to B-school??

I mean that some people may look at it as a complete waste of time and effort on the entreprenuer's part. These people reason that a successful entreprenuer can not learn much at a B-school, which is mainly for people looking for high powered jobs etc. Plus he would not learn anything which he has not seen on ground before.

But the other school of thought reasons that a B-school is much more than academics and useful network building and exposure is worth the price.

I'd take my personal example. I am an entreprenuer but I have a very small scale startup. Not that it is not successful (it is as successful as you can get on the small scale), but I believe that for scaling it "upwards" and for properly, professionally managing it one would need a thorough understanding of managing large scale business. Granted, that the Bill Gates or the Ambanis of this world do not have an MBA, but, statistically speaking, how many are they??? Perhaps 1 in a million. And believe it or not, statistically that means not me and not you either. :) Also, one may aquire such skills over time but it will take anybody a lot of time to figure it all out. An MBA (in my view) only shortens this time. And this is the major driving force behind my MBA decision.

But then again you are tempted to feel that your actual business would be two years behind the competition and you could do very well to stop yourself now and get more "street smarts" which really matter. This way saving a huge amount of time, money and effort.

What do you guys think about it?? Is an MBA worth it for an entreprenuer (like me) who will study on loans, never work for someone else and plans to return to his own business after 2 years???
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Re: Should an Entreprenuer go to B-School [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2008, 08:31
You need to ask yourself -

Will I gain more out of two year away from my business, learning management, or will I gain more by grinding it out for two years, growing my business and making incremental gains along the way?

If those two years of school are spent growing your business, will those gains outweigh going and learning for two years? Will going and learning for two years allow you to make gains in your business that you would not have made without the degree? How long will it take you, if you go to school, to grow your business to the level you would have been able to achieve if you dedicated those two years to your business instead?

Now, if you can run your business while you are at school, perhaps in a scaled down version, then maybe that is the best option?

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Re: Should an Entreprenuer go to B-School [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2008, 08:32
Have you looked at Columbia's J-Term Program?
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Re: Should an Entreprenuer go to B-School [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2008, 12:24
sam77sam7 wrote:
You need to ask yourself -

Will I gain more out of two year away from my business, learning management, or will I gain more by grinding it out for two years, growing my business and making incremental gains along the way?

If those two years of school are spent growing your business, will those gains outweigh going and learning for two years? Will going and learning for two years allow you to make gains in your business that you would not have made without the degree? How long will it take you, if you go to school, to grow your business to the level you would have been able to achieve if you dedicated those two years to your business instead?

Now, if you can run your business while you are at school, perhaps in a scaled down version, then maybe that is the best option?

~Sam


Sam dude....... I am well aware of the nearly infinite questions that this topic can pose...... your addition to those long list of question just added to the undecisiveness....... :lol:
Yes, certainly I have to make up my own mind but I was just thinking what the other guys think about the issue?? i.e. how they would react if they were an entreprenuer?
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Re: Should an Entreprenuer go to B-School [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2008, 12:43
Haha.. sorry, didn't mean to pose a bunch of questions you probably already took into account.

If I were in the same situation, I would weigh very heavily if the expanded network of a top tier business school, combined with the classroom learning outweighs the gains I could make in two years. If it was close, I would go for the bschool, because if you ever decide to seek a corporate job, it will give you good credibility.

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Re: Should an Entreprenuer go to B-School [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2008, 12:48
Personally if I was already running a business I was interested in continuing post grad and it was already doing well enough to support myself I wouldnt go back to school. Stopping or really taking most of my attention away from it for 2 years would probably really negatively affect its growth. Lots of people run very successful businesses without MBAs, I could see taking some finance/accounting classes or even doing a PT program but I think that if your business is doing well its not worth it.
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Re: Should an Entreprenuer go to B-School [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2008, 13:26
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devansh_god wrote:
My question is simple (eventhough the answer may not be):
Should an entreprenuer who has forged a successful startup leave working in his startup and go to B-school??

I mean that some people may look at it as a complete waste of time and effort on the entreprenuer's part. These people reason that a successful entreprenuer can not learn much at a B-school, which is mainly for people looking for high powered jobs etc. Plus he would not learn anything which he has not seen on ground before.

But the other school of thought reasons that a B-school is much more than academics and useful network building and exposure is worth the price.

I'd take my personal example. I am an entreprenuer but I have a very small scale startup. Not that it is not successful (it is as successful as you can get on the small scale), but I believe that for scaling it "upwards" and for properly, professionally managing it one would need a thorough understanding of managing large scale business. Granted, that the Bill Gates or the Ambanis of this world do not have an MBA, but, statistically speaking, how many are they??? Perhaps 1 in a million. And believe it or not, statistically that means not me and not you either. :) Also, one may aquire such skills over time but it will take anybody a lot of time to figure it all out. An MBA (in my view) only shortens this time. And this is the major driving force behind my MBA decision.

But then again you are tempted to feel that your actual business would be two years behind the competition and you could do very well to stop yourself now and get more "street smarts" which really matter. This way saving a huge amount of time, money and effort.

What do you guys think about it?? Is an MBA worth it for an entreprenuer (like me) who will study on loans, never work for someone else and plans to return to his own business after 2 years???


No, I would say its not worth it for you.

In my opinion, a true entrepeneur would never get their MBA. A true "entreprenuer" would never spend the kind of money to go back to school and leave his dream, unless of course he wanted the safety net of an MBA to fall back on if his 'start-up' (AKA Small Business) ever went belly up. Now if you want the safety net in case you fail, then by all means go for it.

The biggest key to a successful small business is sales and marketing, especially selling as much as you can and as quickly as you can. The founder needs to be the best salesman and then he needs to hire more people like him at first. Management, finance and everything else is secondary because if you can't bring in revenue you won't be around long enough for the rest of it to matter anyway. So I would say if you really want to succeed as an 'entreprenuer', then learn how to sell. What's funny about an MBA is that all of these so called 'entreprenuer programs' leave out the most important part of the curriculum they should be teaching. Not really sure why.

You make one other assumption about why you are going back to get your MBA when you say:
Quote:
I believe that for scaling it "upwards" and for properly, professionally managing it one would need a thorough understanding of managing large scale business. Also, one may aquire such skills over time but it will take anybody a lot of time to figure it all out. An MBA (in my view) only shortens this time. And this is the major driving force behind my MBA decision.


Currently, there are 6 million small businesses in this country and roughly 3,000 businesses with over $1 billion in revenue. It takes an average of 20 years to reach $1 billion in revenue and less than .1% of businesses ever make it there. Of course that is if you don't fail in your first year, which about 10-15% of small businesses in this country do.

My advice is that you are going to be in this thing for 30 years and if you want an MBA as a safety net, then by all means go for it, but no true entreprenuer ever went to business school to learn the proper way to run a small business. The successful ones had a great idea and were capable of convincing people it was a really great idea and they should buy it. That is the secret to their success.
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Re: Should an Entreprenuer go to B-School [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2008, 17:13
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I thought that I would chime in as I am in a similar situation. I own a profitable food franchise and I am also applying to school this fall. I understand the points being made, but I disagree somewhat. First, my opinion is that of someone applying, I have not attended bschool and therefore I am just speculating on the potential benefits, etc. Much of this conversation is dependent on whether or not you see a long term future in your business or if you believe that later on, you will be trying something different. If you can see making this business your life's work, then business school would probably set you back...pt may be a better option. However, if you are like me, and don't see yourself in that industry for a very long time, bschool could be very beneficial. Exposure to new businessess, ideas, people, etc. are all great reasons for an ent. type to attend school again.

I think many ent. type people become bored quickly. Many do not have the patience to see a business from begining to end. They enjoy the startup challenges of a young business, but then are off to the next challenge when the excitement tails off. Who is to say what is correct.

You need to assess what you want out of bschool. If it is to learn how to run a small business, stay where you are and maybe go pt or take some classes at a local u. If you seek the benefits I listed earlier or other intangibles that may not be acquired from the experiences offered by your current business, take a good look at bschool.

I like to think of it this way...for the cost of two years and a hefty chunk of cash...I am purchasing the POTENTIAL for better decision making and opportunities over the next 35+ years of my business life. This may not be a very economical way of looking at the decision, but I know in 10 years I won't be looking back and thinking that I wasted money and time on bschool. However, in 10 years I may look back and wish I had.

Since I am not sitting on my next business idea, I would rather take the chance to invest the money in myself. Your situation is unique, but don't be afraid to do something that you want to do simply because others have not taken that road. There is no standard pathway for an ent. I am probably rambling now, but those are my thoughts.
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Re: Should an Entreprenuer go to B-School [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2008, 17:44
dghazer wrote:
I think many ent. type people become bored quickly. Many do not have the patience to see a business from begining to end. They enjoy the startup challenges of a young business, but then are off to the next challenge when the excitement tails off. Who is to say what is correct.


I've seen a lot of this with technology startups. Entreprenuers develop some software product and then want to sell it as soon as they have it finished although they have no customers and no market for the product. They don't know how to do the hard part, which is S&M. They come to us and say, "if you guys put in some marketing dollars and hire a salesforce then this thing could really take off." The entreprenuer just doesn't want to/doesn't know how to do it himself. I say to them, "if this is such a great idea, then why don't you want to develop it and reep the reward?" It's amazing how many entreprenuers are just trying to make a quick buck rather than truly build a company.
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Re: Should an Entreprenuer go to B-School [#permalink] New post 16 Aug 2008, 05:39
It's a very tough call - I wouldn't like to be in your shoes :-D

I think that an MBA could be very useful to an entrepreneur who has no finance / business educational background (which is often the case). He'll learn there some concepts that he could easily apply to his business.

I'm taking here the assumption that you can't manage your business while in school and that you have no business educational background (if these assumptions are wrong, then it's another story)

I think the ultimate question is the following: are you ready to sell your business? Or - in other words - do you objectively think you can bring this business to a higher level with your actual knowledge? If you have reached a "plateau" and feel that from now on it will be "business as usual" without a lot of growth potential, I would say: sell and get yourself an MBA. You'll be able to open another business 1 or 2 years later with a lot of knowledge and network under the belt (unless you're speculating on a novel concept, then time's essential of course). Actually I'd say that if you want to be an entrepreneur, I would focus on a short European-style MBA - simply because the networking is less valuable to you then the course itself (for those looking for IB/PE jobs it's the opposite usually)

On the other hand, if you think there is still a lot to do and you have a massive growth potential, do not sell; first because you'll be selling your company at an undervalued price (I can almost guarantee you that), second because you'll be missing out on a fantastic experience that cannot be taught in a classroom. And if later on you're too old for an MBA, there are other ways to get a good education: executive MBA, one year programs, etc.

I hope this helps!
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Re: Should an Entreprenuer go to B-School [#permalink] New post 16 Aug 2008, 05:45
jb32 wrote:
dghazer wrote:
I think many ent. type people become bored quickly. Many do not have the patience to see a business from begining to end. They enjoy the startup challenges of a young business, but then are off to the next challenge when the excitement tails off. Who is to say what is correct.


I've seen a lot of this with technology startups. Entreprenuers develop some software product and then want to sell it as soon as they have it finished although they have no customers and no market for the product. They don't know how to do the hard part, which is S&M. They come to us and say, "if you guys put in some marketing dollars and hire a salesforce then this thing could really take off." The entreprenuer just doesn't want to/doesn't know how to do it himself. I say to them, "if this is such a great idea, then why don't you want to develop it and reep the reward?" It's amazing how many entreprenuers are just trying to make a quick buck rather than truly build a company.


I think it's simply because everybody has its specialty. You won't earn a buck on a great product that's poorly marketed. It takes expertise and a lot of networking IMO to be able to do that successfully, and I can imagine that in the case of a software developer, he is not equipped to do that (a bit stereotypical but pretty true I reckon). So they'd rather get a quick buck than no buck at all. And I can't really blame them.
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Re: Should an Entreprenuer go to B-School [#permalink] New post 17 Aug 2008, 10:25
Audio wrote:
It's a very tough call - I wouldn't like to be in your shoes :-D

I think that an MBA could be very useful to an entrepreneur who has no finance / business educational background (which is often the case). He'll learn there some concepts that he could easily apply to his business.

I'm taking here the assumption that you can't manage your business while in school and that you have no business educational background (if these assumptions are wrong, then it's another story)

I think the ultimate question is the following: are you ready to sell your business? Or - in other words - do you objectively think you can bring this business to a higher level with your actual knowledge? If you have reached a "plateau" and feel that from now on it will be "business as usual" without a lot of growth potential, I would say: sell and get yourself an MBA. You'll be able to open another business 1 or 2 years later with a lot of knowledge and network under the belt (unless you're speculating on a novel concept, then time's essential of course). Actually I'd say that if you want to be an entrepreneur, I would focus on a short European-style MBA - simply because the networking is less valuable to you then the course itself (for those looking for IB/PE jobs it's the opposite usually)

On the other hand, if you think there is still a lot to do and you have a massive growth potential, do not sell; first because you'll be selling your company at an undervalued price (I can almost guarantee you that), second because you'll be missing out on a fantastic experience that cannot be taught in a classroom. And if later on you're too old for an MBA, there are other ways to get a good education: executive MBA, one year programs, etc.

I hope this helps!


lol..... While selling a business is a radical idea (seemed absurd at first to me!!) since the potential is great...... Recalling Lesson #1: You never sell a great growth opportunity.......

Plus, my idea in pursuing an MBA is to properly leverage this potential by bringing in funding and other ways to manage properly and to maximize efficiency.......... So, while it may sound "business as usual" now (at a small scale), things may be very dynamic and different if I achieve the above. And due to this very reason, it does not make sense to get further "experience" just for the sake of getting it. Rather go out and grow!!!

P.S. : Assumption: My business can be run in the "steady state" in my absence.
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Re: Should an Entreprenuer go to B-School [#permalink] New post 17 Aug 2008, 18:46
jb32 wrote:
devansh_god wrote:
I believe that for scaling it "upwards" and for properly, professionally managing it one would need a thorough understanding of managing large scale business. Also, one may aquire such skills over time but it will take anybody a lot of time to figure it all out. An MBA (in my view) only shortens this time. And this is the major driving force behind my MBA decision.


Currently, there are 6 million small businesses in this country and roughly 3,000 businesses with over $1 billion in revenue. It takes an average of 20 years to reach $1 billion in revenue and less than .1% of businesses ever make it there. Of course that is if you don't fail in your first year, which about 10-15% of small businesses in this country do.



Ever wondered why it's only the 0.1% that reaches $1B mark? Lots of factors. But apart from luck, the major ones are:
1) Sustaining the successful startup ( taught @ B-School)
2) Grit and Determination (this no successful entreprenuer, small or big lacks)
3) Keeping your focus on growth (taught @ B-School). It is amazing how many of the small businesses remain small just due to some simple facts that:
a) They are satisfied with the current state of events.
b) They don't know how to grow consistantly.
c) They fail to see a new opportunity (coz of being engrossed in the daily rat-race)
d) They lack sufficient funding and/or corporate networks.
4) Efficient "scaling up" skills ( I personally know three of fellow entreprenuers who tried to "scale up" using additional funding but couldn't manage it properly and were forced to return to their initial state, eventually embracing satisfaction.

Those 0.1% that reach the top are not all Wiz-Kids. They possess all of the above factors.
As I see it, a B-school can help you in some of these areas.
What say? Am I making sense or just cold blabbering.... :P
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Re: Should an Entreprenuer go to B-School [#permalink] New post 17 Aug 2008, 21:52
It sounds like a PT or a one year program would be perfect for you...any of these near you?
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Re: Should an Entreprenuer go to B-School [#permalink] New post 20 Aug 2008, 22:56
We have some entrepreneurs in our class (under 30 years old). Since I am in the executive program, everyone still works. I will say that it's really tough though working and running a business while also taking classes and studying for midterms/finals, etc.

If you don't have a lot of help in running your company, it's pretty much impossible. But at least the part time/executive programs are an option if you want to keep your company going while you get your MBA.

RVD.
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Re: Should an Entreprenuer go to B-School [#permalink] New post 21 Aug 2008, 07:01
RVD wrote:
We have some entrepreneurs in our class (under 30 years old). Since I am in the executive program, everyone still works. I will say that it's really tough though working and running a business while also taking classes and studying for midterms/finals, etc.

If you don't have a lot of help in running your company, it's pretty much impossible. But at least the part time/executive programs are an option if you want to keep your company going while you get your MBA.

RVD.


THAT is one of the places where a joint family system comes in handy........ someone (my dad in this case) or the other always raises the hand...... :P
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Re: Should an Entreprenuer go to B-School   [#permalink] 21 Aug 2008, 07:01
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