It's always a good time for entrepreneurs to think about their education. For some, earning an MBA carries the tempting lure of prestige, they see it as a stepping stone to launch a business, something to do between point A and point B. But for entrepreneurs in today’s economy, is an MBA a worthwhile investment?
Earning an MBA is a serious cost and time commitment. In Canada, it takes anywhere from 12 to 24 months to complete a program full-time, and the cost ranges from $10,000 to upwards of $100,000. An MBA definitely has merit; you can learn the technical skills to solve problems, and build a network full of like-minded people. But if you know right from the get-go that you want to be an entrepreneur, is an MBA a prerequisite to launch a business? The answer, according to our research: not necessarily. Here’s why:
1. Structure. An MBA program is typically very structured: schedules and classes are arranged and there usually isn’t much room for change. Entrepreneurs like to deviate from this kind of structure – they like to forge their own path and learn by doing. If you are the type of person that likes structure and theory, an MBA program could be a good idea. Otherwise, you might want to reconsider.
2. Mentors and experience. Higher education is great for learning theory and technical knowledge, but you can also learn from your own experience, and from the help of mentors. As Ryan Porter, co-founder of Raise Your Flag, says: “Surround yourself with great mentors and advisors, learn from them. Fail, succeed, fail, succeed, fail, succeed. Learn, grow, move forward. There’s your MBA.”
3. Cost. The cost of an MBA really adds up. With cost of tuition higher than ever, there is no guarantee that you will make a return on your educational investment. Another degree doesn’t always equal a bigger pay cheque or a booming business.
4. Your product/service. An MBA can boost your credibility and connect you to other entrepreneurs. But in the long run, what matters most is the quality of your product or service. Your customers don’t really care about whether or not you have an MBA, they care about the quality of your business and whether or not you meet their needs.
5. Alternative education. If you do want more formal education, there are numerous other ways to learn that are less costly and time consuming. Take an online class, register for a conference, or read a book. Higher education isn’t the only education out there.
In life and in business, it is important to always be learning and evolving as a person. As an entrepreneur, you need to stay current with trends, adapt to changing economic climates, and stay one step ahead of the game. If an MBA will help grant you the confidence and knowledge to be a better business person, and you have the time and the means to do it, then by all means, go for it. At the end of the day, you need to do what’s going to benefit you and your business.