Education is one of the greatest assets that you can have. Having the right knowledge for the right situation can help you stay out front of your business’ competition or can help you avoid potential issues. I am huge proponent of continue education for business owners. There is a change though in the perception of what used to be a mainstay in business education. There is a growing sentiment that a MBA degree is no longer necessary to become an entrepreneur.
With these advanced degrees costing upwards of $100,000, many entrepreneurs are more willing to learn on the fly as opposed to spending years and tens of thousands of dollars learning textbook theory that may or may not apply to their ventures. This is causing a shift in many West Michigan MBA programs. GVSU and WMU have programs that force to teach skills that entrepreneurs need including leadership that might have been absent in previous versions of their MBA programs.
Still individuals like Steve VanderVeen, who runs the Hope College Center for Faithful Leadership, and Max DePree, author and former CEO of Herman Miller, believe that these programs can teach the framework of the skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur but they cannot replace experience. Even Satish Deshpande, associate dean for operations and graduate programs at the WMU Haworth College of Business indicated that an MBA program is probably better at training individuals the skills that are more useful to a second-stage company and not a startup or early-stage company.
But what about the perspective of those that are important to you: investors? Jody Vanderwel, president of Holland-based Grand Angels said that a MBA can be part of the broader analysis of a business they are vetting but in some situations real life experience can replace that formal education.
So do you need to go and enroll in a MBA program? The simple answer is no. The full answer is that the education you will receive from an MBA program will be invaluable to you going forward and if you have the means and opportunity to receive that education why would you not want it? The most important thing is to find a program that fits the more modern trends. If you can find one that will provide you with real world experience, that will give you the best of both worlds. Also there is no rule that says that you cannot have a startup that you run while you are getting your MBA.
In the end as a leader of your business team you are going to want to have some knowledge so you can not only communicate with your other team members but you can understand what they are doing. When you are talking to your lawyer, you want to understand what he is doing and why he is doing it. Same can be said about your CPA, your marketing firm, etc. Whether that knowledge comes from experience or from a formal education it makes no difference. The biggest mistake you can make is to not get the education and not rely on others expertise to help your business.
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Source: “Is the MBA relevant for entrepreneurs?” by Mike Brennan of MiBiz