Entrepreneurship has long been an attractive career path for ambitious self-starters looking to blaze new trails and conduct business according to their own rules. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has led to considerable disagreements and misunderstandings when it comes to recommended courses of entrepreneurial training.
Although the free-thinking innovation of the entrepreneur and the rigid structure of most academic institutions can make an uneven fit at a glance, establishing your own business without the aid of quality education can prove disastrous, to say the least. For this reason, most experts heartily encourage aspiring entrepreneurs to get the proper training beforehand.
Depending on your specific areas of business interest, several undergraduate and graduate degrees may prove useful as you proceed on your entrepreneurial journey. The Master of Business Administration (MBA), however, tops the list when it comes to building the versatile soft and hard skills you will need to succeed as an entrepreneur and business leader.
What Is an Entrepreneur?
Two key factors that separate the entrepreneur from the ordinary business leader are self-investment and autonomy. Dictionary.com defines an entrepreneur as “a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.” What this definition fails to consider is the increased opportunities for professional personal gain that go hand in hand with entrepreneurialism’s increased risk.
Beyond the dictionary definition of the entrepreneur, business experts have noted that entrepreneurs tend to share many common characteristics, including persistence, decisiveness, and, of course, a higher-than-average tolerance for risk. While many of us are naturally born with one or more of these key characteristics, you can also build your confidence and proficiency in these areas and more with the right education and training.
Is an MBA Good for Entrepreneurs?
If you are looking for a one-size-fits-all, step-by-step guide on how to become an entrepreneur, you will be hard-pressed to find one that speaks to all your particular wants and needs. However, obtaining an entrepreneurial MBA can go an incredibly long way toward making your professional dreams come true.
Do entrepreneurs need an MBA to create and run businesses? No. In fact, there are many stories of people finding entrepreneurial success without an MBA, an undergraduate degree, or even a high school diploma.
From seeking a mentor to joining a support group, you can find many ways to connect with other entrepreneurs and learn from them. You can also teach yourself by reading everything that you can about running a business and attending relevant conferences and workshops.
But none of these activities can replace a targeted MBA for entrepreneurs from a quality institution of higher learning. While there certainly are no legal barriers preventing you from establishing your own company without a specific degree or certification, there are many advantages to securing an MBA while tailoring your education to meet your unique needs as an aspiring entrepreneur.
How Can an MBA Help an Entrepreneur?
Although anyone can start a business in the United States, most people go to college before they do. A 2020 Trends in Entrepreneurship report by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation shows that 51.4% of US entrepreneurs hold a bachelor’s degree, and 23.2% go on to obtain a graduate degree in business.
For the average entrepreneur, the benefits of earning an MBA are unmatched by any other degree. In fact, no less an authority than Entrepreneur Magazine answers the question, “Are the skills you learn by completing an MBA relevant for entrepreneurship?” with a resounding “yes,” explaining that a good MBA program covers nearly every skill that you will need as an entrepreneur.
An incredibly versatile and extraordinarily powerful business degree, the MBA is associated with a broad range of hard and soft skills. The “hard” business skills instilled by MBA programs can be specialized according to industry (such as healthcare or entertainment) or according to an area of professional focus (such as finance or analytics). But the soft skills that MBA students build may be even more important to future entrepreneurial success. These skills include leadership, communication, productivity, and team building.
Understanding the MBA Degree
Because it is designed with a focus on real-world, professional applications and you can pursue a broad range of concentrations, the MBA is extraordinarily practical and widely applicable.
Beyond helping aspiring entrepreneurs build and refine both and soft skills like those listed above, a quality MBA program will provide ample opportunities to establish and expand your professional network of potential mentors, partners, funders, advisors, and customers. Because successful entrepreneurship is impossible without effective collaboration, this network is likely to fuel your career well into the future.
Another lasting strategic advantage of the MBA is its unprecedented ability to enhance your professional credibility. Few things will help open doors with investors and attract top talent to a business venture quite like an MBA. As previously discussed, virtually anyone can start a business, so key stakeholders and team members will inevitably gravitate toward entrepreneurs with clear marks of expertise. As the definitive degree for professional business leaders, an MBA can go a long way toward making your entrepreneurial dreams come true.
What Is the Best MBA for Entrepreneurship?
There are countless routes to entrepreneurial success. But no matter what route you plan to take, there is an MBA that can help you on your way.
Thanks to the broad array of MBA specializations available, you can almost certainly find a program that provides the skills you need to launch your entrepreneurial career. First, consider pursuing an MBA with a concentration on the industry or sector in which you plan to operate. Second, consider pursuing an MBA with a concentration in a specific set of business processes that will help you accentuate your essential talents or overcome vulnerabilities.
When choosing an MBA program, you must also consider the offerings and features that are unique to each program under consideration. For example, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) offers both a 100% Online MBA program and a Flexible MBA program that delivers a mix of face-to-face and online learning. In addition to its general MBA degree, the UTC Gary W. Rollins College of Business offers curriculum concentrations in accounting, business analytics, finance, and healthcare administration.
The almost infinite intricacies of entrepreneurialism make it impossible to recommend a single path forward, through a specific MBA program or any other route. To find the best MBA program for you, you will want to begin by defining your entrepreneurial goals with as much precision as possible. Then, you will want to seek expert guidance, both from relevant business leaders and from higher education officials.
Take the First Steps Toward Becoming an Entrepreneur
While the benefits of pursuing an MBA as an entrepreneur are considerable, this pursuit will require considerable investments of both money and time. By choosing an online or hybrid program, you can significantly reduce these costs, but you will certainly want to ensure that your MBA program of choice will offer you an attractive return on investment (ROI).
To help make these ROI assessments and better hone in on the best MBA program for you, you may want to take the first few steps toward becoming an entrepreneur without a graduate degree.
For example, you will want to appraise your natural leadership abilities and determine if you truly have the entrepreneurial mindset that you will need to survive in the highly competitive business world. While all senior business executives must lead, leadership skills are particularly vital for entrepreneurs, who must not only run a business but grow one from the ground up as well.
You should also begin to clarify your strategic entrepreneurial vision, mission, and goals. If you start conceptualizing a business plan for your future company before applying for graduate school, you will be better equipped to find an MBA program that will work for you. After committing to getting a business degree, you can continue to develop and refine that business plan under the supportive guidance of faculty members and fellow students.
Learn Entrepreneurial Skills with an MBA from UTC
If you are looking for the best MBA for entrepreneurship, you should consider the diverse program offerings at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Beyond highlighting advanced general business knowledge, the MBA programs of the UTC Gary W. Rollins College of Business provide a range of soft skills to refine your entrepreneurial mindset and overall administrative efficiency.
From finance to analytics to healthcare administration to accounting, an MBA from UTC can accelerate your chosen entrepreneurial trajectory. UTC is the only university in the greater Chattanooga region with accreditation through the widely respected AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business). All our MBA programs are taught by high-caliber faculty and accessible to large numbers of students thanks to our affordable tuition rates and ample financial aid opportunities.
For more information about UTC’s various MBA options or to apply to our 100% Online or Flexible MBA programs, fill out a brief online form today. A knowledgeable UTC representative will get back to you to answer your questions or guide you through the application process.