To MBA or Not To MBA

You’d like to own your business, but you don’t have an MBA. Does this mean you’re making a bad move? Not necessarily.

Earning an MBA appears to be the “thing to do” right now as more and more college graduates opt to continue their education by enrolling in business school. Additionally, more professionals are attending MBA classes at night, or they’re leaving their current employment altogether to start from scratch with a business degree.  However, the sudden influx of MBA candidates right out of college can be attributed to general fear of what’s out there after undergrad, and post-grad professionals think this is what they “should” be doing.

The question remains: Can you have a successful business without earning an MBA? Absolutely. The two most famous examples are Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, both college dropouts who have started successful businesses. Now, these two might be extraordinary exceptions to the rule, or they might be proof that an MBA isn’t necessary – for everyone.

To some, business sense comes naturally. To others, investing in an MBA might not be a bad idea. There is also always the option to hire a business manager for your company, who most likely will hold that coveted MBA.

Guy Kawasaki, author and the chief executive of Garage Technology Ventures, told Forbes that the value of an MBA is about negative $250,000. “I have an MBA, and I was once a young college graduate,” says Kawasaki. “I don’t think an MBA matters very much for starting a company,” he said.

Rin-rin Yu, a working professional in Baltimore who recently earned her MBA from the University of Southern California, agrees. “An MBA isn’t necessary. A college degree isn’t necessary. What’s necessary is having the experience in the area you’re trying to start a business in. You also need to be open-minded and savvy about your approach. Have a good plan that is flexible, and you are set,” she says. Yu also points out that there are a number of good books about running a business that can be helpful.

If you’re someone working for a large company and would like to be promoted to the top from within, an MBA is attractive on your resume. However, if you’ve been in a specific industry for a long time and would like to go off on your own and believe you have the tools necessary for success, then spending time and money in school might not make sense. While investors may be more comfortable handing over money if they see you have an MBA, real-world knowledge and experience are just as desirable.

If you want to attend business school and have the time and money to spare, then by all means, do. It can’t hurt. However, if you’re taking the steps because you think it is a requirement, maybe think again, and visit your local library instead.

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