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Is an MBA Essential for Startup Founders?

Should you have an MBA before launching your startup

Firstly what is an MBA? A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a graduate degree designed to give students an understanding of how business works. However, for startup founders, getting an MBA is no longer the only path to launching a successful venture.

You should only have an MBA before launching a startup if you need its specific advantages and can afford the cost of the program. Some of the world's most outstanding entrepreneurs never attended business school.

The rest of this article will cover a few topics related to the question above, including the importance of an MBA, its advantages/disadvantages, the cost of an MBA, and the best MBA programs in the world.

She's such a business woman GIF

Is an MBA Important in Business?

An MBA is not necessarily important in business. However, it can be beneficial under certain circumstances. An MBA can provide students with a solid business foundation matched with hands-on experience.

No matter what industry they enter, MBA graduates, especially startup founders, can confidently leverage the skills they learned into tangible benefits. However, even though an MBA can equip you with many important skills, attending a university isn't the only way to become business-savvy.

Programs like boot camps and startup labs can help female entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground and scale them up if necessary. You can even take up online courses for this purpose.

Compared to traditional business schooling, these alternatives can be completed in less time, can be taken at your own pace, and are relatively inexpensive. Of course, their actual quality is a different story: You need to thoroughly vet them by checking out online reviews, forums, etc.

What Are the Advantages of Having an MBA?

For startup founders, the advantages of having an MBA include developing a network, building expertise, and gaining knowledge in the basics of business. You can connect with professors, potential mentors, and colleges that can help you now and at different points along your journey.

That said, it's worth mentioning that you don't need to go to business school to build a strong network. With tools like LinkedIn, seminars, and online forums, you can easily connect with like-minded individuals even from the comfort of your home.

What Are the Disadvantages of Getting an MBA?

The most notable disadvantage of getting an MBA is a loss of resources. Although some MBA programs are relatively affordable, all of them require you to put in a significant amount of time. The average student takes around two years to get an MBA.

Some accelerated classes allow would-be women entrepreneurs to finish in one year. These classes are more common in international universities. Still, one year in MBA school is one year you could've spent building your business from the ground up.

That said, many MBA students, particularly aspiring startup founders, begin their first business ventures while attending business school. You do have to make sure you can juggle the demands of business school with those of managing a startup, though.

Morgan McLachlan from Amass Botanics chatted to us to encourage people that don’t have a biz background, but an entrepreneurial idea, to just go for it. It is a lot of work to learn all the principles but you should really be encouraged to just do it. The force functions you to develop a lot of skills. And who knows, it might even become interesting to you.

“I had to learn every cell. Every equation. Because the “expert” was so sloppy. But that made me learn. And I also learned I actually love modeling. Not fashion modeling. Financial modeling.”

You’re the one that cares most about the business. Any consultant, no matter how expensive, isn’t going to care the same way. And that means you’re going to do this better times better. In her opinion, building a business = an MBA x a million.

How Much Does an MBA Cost?

An MBA can cost as much as $170,000 per year (if you are taking up a program from an Ivy League School). The actual cost can vary depending on factors like location and program quality.

For example, Harvard Business School charges over $170K for a 2-year MBA. The 2021-2022 school year's most affordable courses were around $20,000.

I don't need backups, I'm going to Harvard GIF

What Are the World's Best Recognized MBAs?

Some of the world's best-recognized MBA programs include the ones from Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford, and London Business School.

According to the QS World University Rankings: Global MBA Rankings, the top ten best-recognized MBA programs in the world are:

It's important to note in addition to being expensive, these programs typically accept fewer applicants than the average university. That makes sense: If they only accept the best students, they'll have only the best graduates, further adding to their prestige.

Conclusion: MBAs for startup founders

An MBA can be a beneficial investment if you're a businesswoman launching your startup. With it, you can have:

  • Valuable knowledge, skills, and experience in business fundamentals and planning

  • A lifelong network and resources

However, an MBA isn't always necessary. There are plenty of quality and affordable alternatives where you can get everything you need to know to start and grow your business.


1 Comment

Unknown member
Sep 14, 2023

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