Startups · Entrepreneurship

Are MBAs a waste of money and time for entrepreneurs?

Eula Ignacio --

September 10th, 2016

MBA is mastering of Degree in Business. Some says why study and put so much effort on it if you are already earning or a successful Entrepreneur. IS it really a waste of time? or Is MBA helpful for Entrepreneurs? Would really appreciate your thoughts about this.

Terri Friel CEO Doctus and Member International Advisory Board of Cracow School of Business CUE at Cracow University of Economics

September 10th, 2016

Disagree with most of you.  Was a Dean of a b school and taught in Bschools for 23 years after 10 years of working in industry as an engineer.  A good MBA program should teach you some very valuable principles that I see many entrepreneurs do not understand in my consulting.  I think it is very valuable if you have some experience first.  About 5 years of business experience seems to make a significant difference in how people approach the degree.  The other aspect of an MBA is other professionals in the room that teach their peers and build networks for new business relationships in the future.  It would be pretty tough to replace the value of an MBA with just experience or any other degree. I think that's why it has persisted for so many years. 

Jason Gibb Real Estate, Director & Business Development, MBA, CMA

September 11th, 2016

Do MBS's make you an entrepreneur, No.  Did I love the experience, Yes. I know people that have been successful entrepreneurs both with and without MBA's, does not seem make a difference in my opinion, however... In my early 30's I ran a manufacturing company with $12M in sales. The company was acquired. In my late 30's I got an MBA and realized that if I had the MBA knowledge when the company was sold I could have gotten at least $1 Million more for the company. So is the MBA worth it? absolutely because it gives perspective on many things that you cannot learn being an entrepreneur as you go along. There are things you know that you don't know, but many things you don't know you don't know... and an MBA puts them on the radar so that you know where to look and what advice to seek and from whom at the right time you need it. I have seen many entrepreneurs fail and blow up their businesses because they reach a point where they are in over their heads and out of their range or they start listening to one set of advisors with no perspective or objectivity because they don't have the case study background that a good MBA delivers.

Chuck Bartok Social Media Consultant, Publisher, and Contrarian Curmudgeon

September 10th, 2016

I have never seen the advantage of MBA talent, in recent times, for a true entrepreneurial mindset.
Most are instructed by theorists, who have never risked a dollar of their or had any practical business experience.
As my dad said many years ago, some one has to go out start the businesses and create jobs for the degreed.
I learned a lot at a very early age listening to self made entrepreneurs and applying massive action to what I heard.
today I would credit a potential employee who has been in real business circumstance over anyone with a degree.
The degree of innovation, belief in self and burning desire to succeed on own talent seems to not be a product of the halls of education.

Irwin Stein Very experienced (40 years) corporate,securities and real estate attorney.

September 10th, 2016

I used to call my first failed business my MBA. It consumed my life for about 18 months and cost me about $70,000. I was in my 30s. I had a law degree and had worked on Wall Street. I understood basic accounting. Do I wish I had had an MBA. Yes . Not that it would have necessarily made the business successful, but I made some classic mistakes that I probably would not have made. Years later I taught business school students and interacted with MBA candidates and faculty. Many of the faculty had a lot of business experience, many consulted for startups and   established businesses. An MBA is not for everyone. Neither is entrepreneurship.  They are not mutually exclusive but in the final analysis, knowledge is power. An MBA might not help, but it couldn't hurt.   `

John FRICS Managing Director at Greenfield Advisors

September 16th, 2016

As both an MBA and Ph.D. With several decades of experience in both large and small enterprises (and start-ups), I can say without equivocation that my MBA has been and continues to be exceptionally valuable in my small business life.  Presently, our firm has about 70 employees and just made the Inc 5000 list.  When I took over the firm, we had 8 employees.  Next year, we should be about double what we are today.  I cannot imagine being able to put in place the marketing, the accounting controls, and the operational controls necessary to growth without the MBA training.

Scott McGregor Advisor, co-founder, consultant and part time executive to Tech Start-ups. Based in Silicon Valley.

September 11th, 2016

I had run an entrepreneurial venture before going to get a masters in business from Carnegie-Mellon. Since then I’ve been in and even led multiple start-ups, and I have even taught masters of business courses for UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and Univ. of Phoenix Online. The thing about education is that it is designed to prepare you for what you might need some day, because in the moment you need it you won’t be able to make enough time to make a good decision. You will always anticipate things you might need that you don’t turn out to need. You might consider that a waste of time. Also true that if you have already become a successful entrepreneur you might not “need” that education. But know one knows in advance the answers.

Joseph Wang Chief Science Officer at Bitquant Research Laboratories

September 11th, 2016

The MBA degree is a degree that teaches you to be a corporate bureaucrat. Generally the mindset of a corporate bureaucrat is the last thing that you want to be if you are an entrepreneur.

I sat in on an MBA class on entrepreneurship, and the lecturer told everyone in the class that none of them were entrepreneurs, because if they were, they'd be doing something else rather than setting in the class listening to him lecture.   He went on to say that this class will not teach you to be an entrepreneur, but that the purpose of the class was to teach how systems work so that you can manage an company once it becomes large enough so that you need corporate bureaucrats in order to prevent chaos.

Now once you have a company reach a certain stage of development, you need corporate bureaucrats, and I've often seen the situation were an entrepreneur will set up a company, and once it reaches the right stage, hand it over to corporate bureaucrats that will run the company, and then use the money to start something new.

Also there is an issue of opportunity cost. Yes an MBA might be useful, but is it more useful than the other things you might learn with the same amount of time and effort.

Renato Levy Senior Vice-President at Intelligent Automation, Inc.

September 16th, 2016

I can only contribute with my own experience. Most of the people bashing MBAs outright here, don't have one.

I do, and I got it after I worked on my first small business. The MBA gave me tools that my engineering formation alone did not. I was able to understand and project more clearly what results my actions would have.

Is it a requirement for entrepreneurship, absolutely not! It is a tool, like any other education. You are not required to have an engineering degree to be successful in the technology business (i.e. Bill gates), but it does help.

The final decision is yours, to obtain a credited MBA, it will be an effort (those which are easy, are useless), if you can use the tools, it will time well invested, if you rather experiment your way through, it works too. Everything in life is tradeoff.


September 12th, 2016

I am about to finish my part-time MBA, while working full-time.

A. I have a massively better appreciation of how all the different functions in the organisation work. I understand much better the world of corporate finance and reporting. I have different ways of thinking about strategy, stakeholder management, and organisational design.

B. I've learnt very little about getting started. Or execution. Or raising finance and building a team.

My conclusion is that it won't get you out of the door, but it will help you grow. Also if you are selling b2b to other businesses (especially big ones) you will have a better understanding of their structure, challenges, and processes.

You are also better able to contextualise and explain why your gut instinct is the right one - which allows you to move beyond "trust me".

I never expected a silver bullet however I've always found that following a syllabus forces you to get at least a basic overview of all the major topics where sometimes otherwise you would skip or skimp due to not liking a particular part or not even being aware it existed.

Martin Omansky Independent Venture Capital & Private Equity Professional

September 10th, 2016

Always good to have a solid foundation upon which to build a career. However, most MBA programs don't really teach one about the real world. Only experience does that. Sent from my iPhone