1) You’re Not About Checking Boxes. While MBAs get a lot of hate for being a dime a dozen, a solid business education does work wonders for anyone interested in business, especially entrepreneurs. However, if you already have an undergraduate business education, you may already have the majority of the benefits. Entrepreneurs have a lot of learning to do on the job, so you better get started on your venture!
What I am learning is that my reluctance to do something where the main benefit is a Big Checked Box is very indicative that I have an entrepreneurial mindset. This type of personality would not thrive as well in a bureaucratic environment valuing an MBA from the University of Peanut Butter over my undergraduate business degree from Wharton and a genuine commitment to job excellence.
2) Ongoing Learning and Networking is Great. The fact that you love to learn is actually why you do not want an MBA. Why sit through the same accounting, finance, marketing courses, etc.? You are thirsty for knowledge and believe that real and significant ongoing learning is the fountain of advancement. While you could meet a lot of people doing an MBA, other programs and opportunities also offer networking.
I chose to pursue an Executive Masters in Leadership (EML) from Georgetown instead of an MBA. I absolutely love learning about organizational leadership, and find that it is a great complimentary skill set to have after concentrating on finance in my undergraduate studies. I am continuously applying the lessons that I am learning to make SH International LLC a better business, and myself a better business leader.
Georgetown, beyond being an internationally renowned university, in so many ways defines Washington DC- a city that I want to make my home for possibly forever. Forming relationships with faculty, student and alumni in the city where I plan to live is an unbeatable foundation for personal and professional success.
3) You Don’t Have the Time. You have a business to run, and taking a break from it to do a full-time program would likely mean starting your business again from zero afterwards. There are part-time programs, however which may suit your schedule better, and which waste little time on already learned material.
Part time classes will give you something else to work on and worry about besides your business. Thinking non-stop about an entrepreneurial venture is really stressful, and at some point becomes counterproductive. Class time can be about disconnecting from that stress and exercising your brain in another direction, while ultimately teaching you skills which also help you make your business more successful.
Plus, being an entrepreneur can be lonely. Being in a part-time program can give you a cohort of others to consistently socialize with over the course of the year. Having recently moved back to DC, having a group of fun and smart new friends that I see every couple of weeks is awesome.
4) Priorities. Ultimately, realize that especially with achievements that have high price tags or time commitments (or both), prioritization is really important. While you may find an MBA attractive, ask yourself if there are other goals you are currently in a position to pursue which you would value more.
These are some of the goals that I came to the profound realization that I would rather accomplish:
- Publishing a Book: I have a draft written!
- Being a Successful Entrepreneur: On my way :)
- Teaching as an Adjunct in a University on Emerging Markets Business: I have guest-lectured at business schools in a few countries, and also at Wharton. I’ve had expressions of interest in hosting me as an adjunct and plan to make this happen in the coming years. Offers welcome!
- Having a Healthy Relationship with My Husband and Hopefully a Healthy Family. This is in the hands of destiny, but increased availability of time, and my commitment to prioritizing this goal will certainly help!
- Buying a Home: The 140k or so that I saved by not getting an MBA puts me in a better position to do this
You may have regrets in not getting an MBA.
I try not to have regrets in life, but here are a couple of the sacrifices I made:
1) My GMAT Score. I had a 760, in the 99% percentile. I feel like I’m wasting this score having not used it for anything. It still has one year of validity left; do you have any creative or useful suggestions for what to do with it besides throw it in the trash? The fact that this is my number one regret on not getting an MBA is very telling that I probably wouldn’t have sufficiently valued an MBA to justify getting one.
By the way- if you’re curious what my secret was- instead of being stressed and worried about the test and its consequences on my life, I was positively focused on the present my then fiancé had promised me if I got a particular score. I love to win!
2) My Old Employer Doesn’t Think I’m Cool. The International Finance Corporation really values MBAs, and while I can reapply for a position there with the EML, it would be a black mark against me. While my entrepreneurial success and happiness is leading me to believe that I’m not cut out for places where box checking is critical, I did really love working for IFC. Luckily, if I do decide to go back to working for another employer, there are many public and private sector entities that fit with my career interests that do not have similar hang-ups.
As you can understand from the level of thought that I put into it, the decision not to get an MBA is not one that I suggest you take lightly. There is a lot of pressure in the business world to get one, and there are definitely benefits! However, a nuanced analysis of your individual situation may lead you to, like me, choose other directions for your further education.
Are you an entrepreneur considering further education? What options have you considered, and what decisions have you made?