Say you want to go to bschool to launch a company.
There are certainly cheaper (and quicker) ways to launch a company, but OK.
There’s also certainly a lot of support and energy around entrepreneurship at all the top schools these days. Getting an MBA gets you excited. Starting a company sounds sexy. Put those things together and things can get hot and heavy pretty quickly.
(OK, we’ll leave that metaphor behind us now.)
Say you decide to do this. We’re not talking today about how easy or hard it would be to pitch this to the schools; that we’ve covered before. Today we’re talking about the realities of going ahead with this plan.
You get into a good school. Yay!
You relocate and get acclimated and start leveraging the on-campus resources. Yay!
You get the bplan together and form a team and start going out into the market. Super Yay! It’s all getting very exciting.
You finish out the first year and maybe you win some competition or get your parents to angel you some $$$ or whatever it is that puts some resources in your pocket, and you decide to do this thing. Amazing Yay!! Yes, this is starting to be real!
You and your partners spend the summer building the prototype. You get the demo together. You’re making progress. More Yay!
Fall comes around and maybe a little reluctantly, you head back to school and start in with your classes again. (Not so yay.)
Your momentum from the summer starts to slip. (Uh-oh yay.)
You miss a deadline. (Oh no yay.)
You ditch classes so that you can catch up. (Aarrrgh! Uggh!)
You’re not so excited anymore. (—–)
Your co-founder, without telling you, went through on-campus recruiting and accepts a consulting position to start when you graduate. (WTF??)
He says he’ll stay with you till then but you get in an argument and he quits. (!!!!!)
You bomb a midterm exam because you haven’t slept in weeks. (??????)
You discover that the software you’re building is illegal and there are three companies with competing patents on the technology you thought was unique and the biggest player in the space declares bankruptcy — all in the same week that you were starting to pitch the VCs. (NNNNnnnnoooooooo!!!!!!)
Lost and alone, questioning everything, you decide that none of this is worth it and you close the company.
There is only about six weeks left of your second year of bschool.
You’re going to graduate with some real-world learning, plus a failed company, a cr@pload of debt, and no job.
Granted, that’s a pretty pessimistic take on things – but we’re betting that this happens more often than you know. Or, the happy co-founders manage to build their alpha, and their beta, and get out into the market, and they graduate with their degrees and try to grow this thing that they’ve launched. And they just find it so darned difficult. Yet they keep at it, throwing more money and time at the sinking ship, until finally their spouses won’t take it anymore and demand that they find a way to bring in some income again. After all, they already had the two-year vacation of bschool. The student loan payments start to add up fast when you don’t have any salary coming in.
We know of more than one story that went exactly like that.
If you get spit out of [____insert brand name bschool here______] with an MBA, in this economy, you’re going to do just fine.
However if you’re considering this whole proposition to start in the Fall, for the Class of 2018… where will we be on the economic cycle at that point?
You’ve gotta hope, given how sluggish this “recovery” has been in the U.S. and the world, that everything will be humming along just fine at that point.
But you really never know where the next downturn will come from.
Will it happen when you’re in bschool?
Will there be jobs readily available and recruiters knocking at your door when you’re ready to graduate?
Will there be loads of VC money looking for a home when you’re in the midst of this build-it-and-they-will-come fantasy?
Just make sure you map things out realistically here.
When BSers are constructing their career goals and looking at ideas for What do I want to do with my life? in the MBA application process, it’s very easy to get carried away with the dreamlife. It all sounds so luscious and lovely. Start a company! Yes! It will be awesome!
And maybe it will be!!!
We know many of you are bound for great success in the world, and there will undoubtedly be some big winner entrepreneurs who we will be able to say, “Ahhhh. We knew them when! We helped when their essays were crap!” 😀
We just hope you have eyes wide open, and a Plan B lined up – and a Plan C, too.
We’re big fans of creating your own destiny and making opportunity happen for yourself and all that. Please don’t think we’re being Debbie Downer because we don’t believe in you.
We just want you to walk away from business school feeling like you’ve made the most of it. Yes there’s plenty of overlap between skills learned and education available during the MBA experience, and in starting a company. Are you sure that you need both to get where you want? If you had to choose between one or the other, which would you pick? Maybe focus on that and exclusively that and see where it takes you.
If you want to go get an MBA as your critical next step in life, we simply ask: WHY?
Do you know the answer to that for yourself?
That might be something to figure out, before you get too much further along on this path.
If you want help on how to craft a compelling pitch for an entrepreneurial set of MBA goals, then we invite you to pick up our Career Goals Research Starting Guide on Entrepreneurship. It won’t tell you how to start a company; it will tell you how to tell the adcom that you’re going to start a company.