We made some snide remark (shocker) yesterday in our “figure your life out” post about going to strike it rich in California. That’s not to say we don’t think you can launch a company!! We don’t see the majority of BSers who claim that they want to become entrepreneurs in their essays actually go on to become entrepreneurs when they go through the business school process, but that does not mean that you won’t do it! So let’s talk a tiny bit about starting a company.
Perhaps an unpopular opinion — and it definitely depends on the exact circumstances of the founders and the company being launched — but EssaySnark is a big fan of bootstrapping. Poster child for that is Mailchimp.
And yet, entrepreneurship has arrived as the sexiest thing ever invented on bschool campuses everywhere.
For the opposite n=1 view that tries to explain the value of the MBA in launching a business:
"Some think an MBA is a waste of time for entrepreneurs. Here's why I don't regret getting my degree." Read @heidizaks's take on getting her MBA at @MITSloan and how it has impacted her career. https://t.co/IyThOJNVSz via @Inc pic.twitter.com/VpFRToQOZd
— MIT Sloan Admissions (@MITSloanAdcom) March 21, 2019
That tweet links to this opinion piece in Inc Magazine that the Sloan alumna got published.
Remember, we’re not saying that the MBA is worthless or that you won’t use what you learn.
We’re saying that it’s a VERY EXPENSIVE WAY TO GO ABOUT STARTING A COMPANY.
If you’re REALLY interested in launching a startup — which, by the way, involves a tremendous amount of risk and uncertainty and courage — then doing it the “safe” way….. sure, that’s one option.
However, if you don’t have the courage and the risk profile to do the startup in the first place, then that’s where to start your assessment of your options.
The main advantage that we can see with going to business school to start a company is that you will be approved for huge amounts in funding nearly automatically from the government and/or private lenders for your tuition and cost of living for the two years in school. In other words, it’s really easy to get some money to pay for the MBA and to provide a (nominal) cushion to pay your rent and groceries while you go through it.
If you try to bootstrap a startup, then yeah, that’s a very daunting proposition. You need to hit up friends and family to get started if you don’t have at least a little bit of seed money saved up yourself. You would need to quite soon go out into the capital markets if you truly have big plans and intend to make this happen, by like quitting your job right away and dedicating yourself to it full time.
Just make sure you map out a possible timeline for what your life will like and what trajectory this business might take if you do it yourself with the resources you have, applying your available sweat equity and hussling. Versus the trajectory you expect if you will start a business through bschool. Timing. Your cost. What you will get out of it.
If you literally don’t have an idea for a company now, then you’re not starting a company at all, you’re playing with the fantasy of having a startup. Two very different things. Yes, being in the creative and charged environment of bschool where you’re surrounded by smart go-getter types who also have big dreams can be exciting and even intoxicating.
BUT THAT EXCITEMENT WILL WEAR OFF.
It all comes down to hard work and sacrifice.
Are you going to do that hard work and make the sacrifices from a “safe” place with presumably less risk? (Note the “presumably”.) Or are you so driven, and focused, and motivated, and able to persevere even in the face of daunting obstacles and the world (like this here ‘Snark) telling you that you can’t do it, that you’re going to do it anyway?
Those who are the most successful in launching something from scratch have at least some if not all of those qualities.
Those are the founders that investors want to find. If at some point you get so successful that taking outside money makes sense to fuel your rocket ship of growth.
Will you be able to knuckle down and push on even in the face of the inevitable economic downturn and financial headwinds that will, at some point in our future, manifest on the horizon?
Or will you wither and fade on the vine?
Are you taking the path of least resistance by trying for an MBA?
Have you really worked hard for something before in your life?
The tone of these questions might imply that we think no, you have not — but that’s the point of being challenged, isn’t it? To have your feathers ruffled, and be able to stand tall, and examine things rationally, and assert what the truth is for you?
There are many paths to get to any one destination (and EssaySnark firmly believes that none of us really is in control of our fate — there are way too many variables at play to make that assertion stick).
Starting a company in a time of flush markets and ever-higher valuations is one thing.
Persevering through when the gale winds are howling is something else entirely.
Go for your dreams — put plans in place now — but make sure to be conservative in the way you are planting your seeds, and take each step knowingly, based on what’s important to you, not just following the crowd of “That’s how it’s done” or “This is what everyone is doing.” Bootstrapping is not easy but it’s also the way to keep control over your baby, at least in the earliest stages when it’s a precious little seedling that needs to be protected and nurtured. Or if you just want the experience of seeing what starting a company is like, then by all means, go for an MBA program that’s dripping with entrepreneurial ambitions, and make the most of it! You can have that as an experience and see if it resonates with you, if you’ve got the chops needed to make this happen over the long haul — or you can have that as an experience just to have it, and then drop it later, knowing that you will have other options available too given that you’ve also earned an MBA along the way.