Just because entrepreneurship is hot doesn’t mean everyone knows how to do it. Every single business school in the world has jumped on the entrepreneurship bandwagon. Why? Because it means $$$ — to them, not necessarily to you or any wanna-be founders. Sure, the schools love it when their students are successful and they can brag about a company that was launched in its hallowed halls ends up ringing the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange on the day they go public.
But honestly? Many of the businesses that we hear about coming out of MBA programs are being run by people that would’ve been successful anyway.
If you want a bschool to give you an advantage that you could not get for yourself, then choose carefully.
For example – not to unfairly single them out or anything – but check out this Darden video that was just recently posted:
The students are supposed to be saying why they chose Darden for entrepreneurship. They’re only talking about why they chose Darden.
Oh hey, there’s a twitter account specifically promoting UVa entrepreneurs!
Tweets by CvilleStartups
Yes there’s an ecosystem blooming in Charlottesville. But….
It’s just not the same as what you would see almost anywhere else.
Silicon Valley (obviously) and San Francisco (ditto)
New York (check) and Boston (same) and Los Angeles too (at least you’re in California)
We can even see an argument for New Haven, being smack-dab between two important cities.
But some of these other places that are pushing entrepreneurship so hard now?
Anyone serious about starting a company needs to be driven and motivated. That’s a given. You’ve got to bring that to the table to have even a starting hope of a chance.
If you want to become MORE successful through an MBA program than you could leveraging your own hard work and go-get-’em, then you might want to start with examining what exactly you want from the MBA in the first place.
Like, are you starting from zero and you want to be in an intensive environment with others who are also motivated for success, and potentially find a good partner to pair up with? And you’ll take on equal risk and put in equal effort (hopefully!) and share in the outcomes equally? Well, bschool can offer plenty of connections and lots of other eager beaver types, and perhaps that’s a good way to facilitate a match-making.
Are you looking for a safe environment to test out ideas while learning skills in the classroom, like how to write a business plan and create financial forecasts? Plenty of bschools can give this to you as well.
Are you looking for “the network” to have instant access to the deep pockets of all the alumni who’ve gone before, to hopefully suss out some investors? Well, bschool can possibly give you that, too — though just because you’re part of a school database does not mean that everyone is going to want to open their wallets to you.
EssaySnark is not the hugest fan of using an MBA to launch a business, mostly because it’s a VERY pricey way to go about it. It adds significant risk to the whole equation — in exactly the opposite way that many of you may be thinking. Lots of people feel that bschool gives this safe place to experiment and take risks, that you’re in a protected environment for two years and you have all this buffer around you, so that you can figure out what to build and go build it. And that may be true — if you hit the ground running on Day 1, preferably with at least a sketch of an idea in hand.
If you don’t, then you’re going to spend umpteen cycles iterating on ideas, and if you’ve just on Day 1 met that co-founder person or two, then you’re going to have to go through the whole process of learning who that individual is and make sure you’re a fit to their working style. And then there’s the illusion of time, when you have all of the MBA cycle stretching ahead of you, and it actually is deceptive and frequently it goes by so very quickly, and you’re left with only six months before graduation and you still don’t have anything off the ground. And then six month post-graduation and guess what? Student loan payments become due. And then you’re faced with not having an income AND having an increase in your debts, and if you’ve got a family or a spouse or someone depending on you to alrightalready get a MOVE ON with this next phase of your life, it can add up to be a rather significant stressload on top.
And at that stage, all of on-campus recruiting has long passed you by and if you don’t have something actually ramped up yet, dang you’re gonna be sitting in a pile of stinky laundry wondering how on earth you got there and how to get out.
Yes, you will have those shiny new letters after your name — M – B – A — but shiny letters won’t pay the bills. A diploma on the wall won’t put beer in the fridge.
So if REALLY you are looking for an MBA to use as a launch pad for this dreamed-of startup fantasy bug that you’ve been bitten with… PLEASE do some planning, and some introspection and thinking, and definitely a helluvalotta research to make sure you’re picking a school that can really deliver.
One such place in our book is NYU Stern.
When you see that they’ve launched this Creative Destruction Lab, and that they’ve actually been offering hands-on training in entrepreneurship within their curriculum since before it was cool, then you know they’re putting their money where their mouth is. It’s not just a lot of talk at this place. They can offer you the support to make something real happen.
Are there other schools with the put-your-money-where-your-mouth is backing to the entrepreneurial ideals?
Is going to Harvard Business School to pursue your entrepreneurial goals what all of you want to do anyway?
We’re not kidding ourselves. This post is unlikely to change anyone’s mind about anyone’s dream school.
But if you’re saying you really want to use bschool to go do this big thing you’ve been thinking about…
Make sure you pick the place that will truly accelerate your progress, and give you more than you could do on your own.
Approach it like your first big founding decision for this venture of yours. You’ve got the smarts. You’ve got the motivation. You want the resources.
Bschools are not interchangeable, especially on this factor.
Which school do you think is #1 best for entrepreneurship — for what YOU want to do?
Would love to get your thoughts, BSer! The comments are open if you want to pitch us on your choice.
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