Why would an Entrepreneur get an MBA?
Right in my backyard, the city I live in boasts a solid MBA program that my work will pay 75% tuition if I decided to go (as I stated in a previous post my boss thinks I’m an idiot for not going this route). Furthermore, when I tell people I’m going to get my MBA the immediate follow-up question is, “What do you want to do with it?”… I tell them I’m planning to use it to help me build my business and with any luck start many more. Half of them appreciate that I understand the value of the degree isn’t just what you learn in class but also the network and relationships it offers. The other half just think I’m wasting time and postponing life. In other words, you don’t need an MBA to be a successful entrepreneur. After all, I started my first business before I graduated college with relative success. So to both parties I say: you are correct.
So why an MBA for this Entrepreneur?
The answer isn’t simple (although it should be by now with all of the interviews I’ve gone through). Part of my reason for getting my MBA is to expand my relationships (notice the use of relationships and not network), part of it is to learn from classmate perspectives in areas that I haven’t had the chance to touch on in my own career. And part of it is the desire to do something totally ambiguous and different… approaching it like a challenging project where the end game and final outcome is not yet defined. One of my biggest strengths is my understanding of (and appreciation for) emotional intelligence. I may be one of the few people with believe business is really grand exercise in communication. Or better explained; can you communicate effectively in order to motivate people to perform?
I consider my own situation: Is my current supervisor keeping me motivated to perform on the highest level possible? No. Was he at one point? Yes. Has my work suffered as a result of the fact he doesn’t motivate me? Probably. Do I think that the best leaders in the world have mastered the art of motivation? For the most part yes. Do I think by getting an MBA you’ll become a master of communication and motivation? Possibly, if you use it correctly. Do I think MBA’s are better prepared as communication oriented leaders than MD’s, PhD’s and JD’s? If we look at it from a very broad spectrum I would say they have a better likelihood.
You see as an entrepreneur, unlike a functional expert, your business is only as strong as your ability to lead and motivate the team. No amount of functional expertise or individual bravado is going to propel you to absolute success. There is an inherent reliance on others in order to make you and ultimately your enterprise successful. So I ask myself have I mastered the art of motivation? Do I understand as a manager what it takes to coach my team to success and ALSO understand how to support them from a functional perspective? The answer is no. What do I need to do in order to put myself in the best possible position to create the best possible company while shortening the time it will take to get there? For me, it’s getting an MBA.