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Re: [newtech-1] MBA - is it worth the effort for entrepreneurship?

From: Ramon G.
Sent on: Saturday, September 6, 2008 10:37 PM
Hi everyone,

I don't have an MBA but I think if you're going to be an employee it would probably help you get ahead WITHIN a company. Start-up or not.

However, if you want to own your own business (and it has nothing to do with financial services) then I don't think anybody cares if you have an MBA or not as long as you can deliver the product or service. 

What I have done is taken hands-on courses on entrepreneurship (http://www.wibo.org), read as much as I can about sales, management and my industry and I've hired people who HAVE MBAs. I've also cultivated mentors and hired consultants and business coaches to advise me on building my company which may actually cost less than some MBA programs.

I'm not knocking MBAs, as I am a firm believer in education, but this is the route I've taken and it's been working well so far. But I will admit that the skills mentioned below by Paul are things I've had to learn on the job and it probably would have helped if I had gained them sooner. I've definitely had more cases of trial and error.

Would having a network of friends from a big name business school help? Sure. But if you don't, you can probably make-up for it with a lot of hard work and by being a really good networker.  

I hope this helps.

Ramon Gil
Fresh Concentrate LLC





On Sep 6, 2008, at 1:19 PM, Paul DiBlasi wrote:

I got my MBA in my mid-thirties and it was the best thing I ever did. A couple of my observations:

  • You start using the skills you learn in the classroom immediately not when you finally graduate. I immediately became a more astute business person with a broader view.
  • It's astounding how many senior managers have limited quantitative skills. Few know how to do a cash flow analysis or a basic regression model for forecasting. Although my degree MBA was in marketing my basic quantitative skills set me apart from most in the company. 
  • In my experience, most firms driven by technologists struggle. They develop features and products based on their own interest or intuition rather than market demand. They have difficulty conveying how their product helps a prospect and why it's better than the other options. They don't know how to create a profitable business model. An MBA will help a technologist over these humps. The guy with the best widget doesn't always win. 

On Sat, Sep 6, 2008 at 10:40 AM, Ben Rosenthal <[address removed]> wrote:
For me the process was a little different, I think.  I didn't start the MBA with any clear goals and I didn't know how exactly how the degree would help.

When I graduated college the business environment was a bit rough and I had a hard time finding a job, so I took one that I didn't really want to do. After two months I was miserable there so I quit and started an IT consulting firm with a friend who I had known for years.  Over the year and a half that followed we transitioned into product development, but we weren't experiencing the kind of success that we were hoping for.  Frankly it was because we lacked the business experience to effectively push the company forwards.

It was at that point that I got a job with a dot-com that was just coming out of the startup phase and maturing a bit. Unfortunately for me, the company didn't want to pay for my MBA, and I really had no interest in paying $1400/credit at Stern.  At 24 years old I was really afraid of taking on that amount of debt.  So instead I'm doing my MBA at Baruch College for $400/credit and getting a first rate education anyway.

Would it have been worth an extra ~$60,000 to go to Stern and build a network of contacts there?  Maybe.  Is that a requirement for success?  No.

As to knowing exactly what I want to do -- it wasn't until a couple of months ago that I realized that I'm happiest working in a startup, but the MBA has been a great experience anyway.  I disagree with the idea that you must know why you're in school in order to benefit from it.  The MBA is, in some ways, like getting a liberal arts degree.  You're taught how to think about complex problems.


Ben



On Fri, Sep 5, 2008 at 9:01 PM, soulsonic <[address removed]> wrote:
thanks to everyone for this great insight.
in case you are wondering, i am 34, have been in web/software development for over 10 years, and entertaining ideas about what to do next. i don't mind investing years into self development, but i don't want to waste time either, so feedback from you guys is invaluable. from what i've gathered, it seems like MBA is best suited for individuals that have clear goals, and know exactly how the degree will help them. vs adding one more thing to ones resume, and getting a more rounded general business education that may or may not be of help in the future ( which is more of where i am coming from )....

and yeah, this whole Gates quitting college is as often misused and beaten to death as Edison making 1,000,000 mistakes before inventing the ligh bulb :)




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