Depending on your situation and the type of business that you want to start, the path to cutting the ribbon and opening your doors might be relatively straightforward or incredibly challenging. While the monetary expense, time commitment, and hard work needed to earn a college degree may be overkill for someone who wants to establish an Etsy shop or work part-time as an independent contractor, aspiring business owners and entrepreneurs could certainly benefit from an advanced business degree like a Master of Business Administration (MBA).
Is Starting a Business Worth It?
Due to the large amounts of work and considerable financial risks that typically go hand in hand with establishing a new business, you should certainly think carefully before you commit yourself to that journey. However, starting your own business can also yield amazing results and offer considerable advantages over working for someone else.
The entrepreneurship guidance and startup funding organization Accion Opportunity Fund has identified a number of specific benefits that business owners enjoy, including the ability to set their own schedules, control their work-life balance, receive tax breaks, and establish firm job security. But people generally start their own businesses to follow their passion and get the greatest return on the work they do.
Do You Need an MBA to Start a Business?
While there are many benefits to obtaining an MBA before establishing your own company, there is absolutely nothing that says you have to do so. Although certain business sectors (the healthcare and legal sectors, for example) require practitioners to hold specific academic or training credentials, anyone in the United States and most free countries around the world can start a business regardless of educational background. In fact, a 2020 report by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s Trends in Entrepreneurship initiative shows that less than 23% of entrepreneurs in the United States have a graduate degree in business.
However, the correlation between advanced business training and entrepreneurial success cannot be denied. Many business owners and administrators at the top of their fields have one or more college degrees in relevant professional areas, and an MBA degree is by far the most versatile and powerful graduate degree that an existing or aspiring business owner can earn.
Does an MBA Teach You How to Start a Business?
While the lack of a college degree doesn’t automatically disqualify you from starting a business, the training that a good MBA program provides can easily make the difference between failure and success.
MBA students accumulate the knowledge and skills they need to start their own businesses through a combination of coursework and practical application. At the same time, they can gain the professional mentorships and networking connections they need to launch and grow a successful business.
Your focus as a business student will depend on your existing abilities and your desired professional future. If you are lacking knowledge in economics, accounting, strategic development, human resources, marketing, or another important area, you will want to address these deficiencies in your MBA studies.
At the very least, you will graduate from your MBA program with a solid understanding of essential business theories, strategies, and practices. From securing appropriate startup funding to developing an outstanding business plan, MBA graduates are significantly better equipped to get a business off the ground and then go on to run it successfully.
The Pros of Getting an MBA Before Starting Your Business
You can start your own business without an MBA, but the right education can certainly improve your chances of success. Here are just a few of the distinct benefits of taking the time and making the investment to secure an MBA before establishing your business.
Learn from Industry Professionals
Many MBA programs are taught by instructors who have already proven themselves to be successful entrepreneurs. As professionals who have already launched one or more businesses over the course of their careers, these instructors can provide invaluable guidance as you establish your new startup.
Develop Leadership Skills
Leadership skills are essential for all types of senior business executives, but they are particularly vital for aspiring business owners and entrepreneurs, who must not only run a business but also build one from the ground up. Strong leadership skills can help you create a vision for your company, build a thriving company culture, develop strategic growth plans, adapt to industry changes, optimize operational productivity, and address various business challenges and opportunities as they arise.
Enhance Your Credibility
If you want to get your foot in the door with company investors and other key stakeholders, you cannot underestimate the professional clout that comes with an MBA. An MBA graduate will generally outperform colleagues without an MBA when it comes to securing startup funding, attracting top talent, and performing a broad spectrum of other critical business functions.
Hone Your Strategic Vision, Mission, and Goals
MBA programs strive to foster supportive environments that allow you to present your business ideas and receive valuable feedback from faculty members and fellow students alike. You can even craft your business plan while enrolled in an MBA program to ensure it’s as effective as possible.
Expand Your Professional Network
Many MBA programs and business schools have extensive alumni networks full of seasoned business leaders happy to offer professional advice and support in a variety of ways. They also tend to support clubs and organizations where students can share business ideas, access entrepreneurial resources, and generally interact with a community of administrative executives and fellow business students.
What Is the Best MBA for Starting a Business?
As discussed above, a wise MBA student will choose the business school, program, and curriculum that best addresses their current gaps in knowledge while preparing them for the kind of business they hope to start. By tailoring their education to address specific professional deficiencies and strengthen skills in administrative processes, aspiring business owners can ensure they get the most out of their MBA.
Fortunately, you can choose to pursue your MBA in any number of concentrations. For example, students at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) Gary W. Rollins College of Business can earn a general MBA or an MBA with a focus in finance, business analytics, or healthcare administration. UTC also offers a tremendous amount of versatility when it comes to program format and delivery, allowing students to earn their MBA entirely online or through a hybrid of face-to-face and online learning. For more information about the various MBA options at UTC, visit the MBA Curriculum page.
How to Start a Business After Your MBA
There is no single path to launching a successful business, and different industries will inevitably come with their own challenges and demands. There are, however, a few general guidelines that are universally applicable and helpful to aspiring business owners. Whether you have secured an MBA or not, it is important to:
Learn All You Can About Your Industry of Choice
What kind of business do you want to launch? Is the industry in which it operates saturated, or would you be filling a real need among consumers? Will your company serve as an innovative or disruptive force within its industry? If not, how will it differentiate itself from its closest competitors? Let the answers to these and similar questions guide your entrepreneurial activities.
Take the Time to Plan Thoroughly
We have already discussed the value of planning your new business while enrolled in a quality MBA program. Regardless of how you choose to complete your business plan and receive feedback on it, there is no such thing as too much planning in the business world. By starting early and going in depth with your planning, you will be in a far better place to anticipate future problems and opportunities and develop contingencies to address them. To borrow an adage from the world of carpentry, “measure twice, cut once.”
Capitalize on Your Strengths and Assess Your Weaknesses
Most successful entrepreneurs are not only passionate about their chosen field of business but talented as well. In addition to capitalizing on those talents in a relevant way, they must have a keen self-awareness to accurately assess their weaknesses. Any weaknesses that may negatively affect their future business enterprises can be addressed by enrolling in a quality business program.
Launch Your New Business with an MBA from UTC
At the UTC Gary W. Rollins College of Business, we know that not all MBA students have the same professional goals. That’s why our MBA programs not only prepare graduates to fill senior executive positions at existing companies but also provide graduates with the practical skills and academic resources they need to create, form, launch, and operate successful companies of their own. For more information about our MBA degree programs, areas of business study focus, and educational format options, visit the Gary W. Rollins College of Business Master of Business Administration program page today.