6 Ways an M.B.A. Can Help You Become an Entrepreneur

by
Director, M.B.A. Marketing & Admissions, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University

Entrepreneurship is all the rage in global business nowadays. A question I’m asked all the time is: “Does the M.B.A. teach me entrepreneurship?” But I think the real question you should be asking is: “Does the M.B.A. teach me to be an entrepreneur?”

The answer is yes! Entrepreneurship is not just about starting your own business. In today’s global economy, we all need to have an entrepreneurial mindset to survive. Anyone who can grab opportunities, take risks, think innovatively, and make things happen can be considered an entrepreneur.

Here are six ways the M.B.A. experience can teach you to become an entrepreneur.

  1. Build a global network. One of the key benefits of the M.B.A. is that it provides a platform for you to engage with an extremely diverse pool of people, ensuring that you build up a very substantial network in a short scope of time. For an entrepreneur, having a network that spans across industries and, maybe even more importantly, across geographies is imperative. This is useful for entrepreneurs looking to expand their international scope. You learn to get your point or pitch across in a way that is adaptive to the culture with whom you are interacting. We teach that it is not only about what you are saying, it is also about the way in which you say it!
  2. Take calculated risks. The M.B.A. teaches you to take risks. For entrepreneurs, this is essential; being an entrepreneur is never without risks. Succeeding in business is all about making calculated decisions that maximize opportunity while trying to minimize risk.
  3. Adopt a “sustainability” mindset. We want students to think about the effect their actions have on themselves and others—today, tomorrow, and years into the future. It’s about more than the bottom line, though that bottom line should stil remain sound. An entrepreneurial mindset grounded in an awareness of sustainability will be most beneficial to all in our global economy.
  4. Embrace change. The influence of disruptive technology in most areas of business has had a major impact on the way we work. In order to stay ahead in your industry, you need to be an entrepreneur in the workplace. This requires adaptability, openness to change, and being comfortable with being uncomfortable.
  5. Present your ideas effectively. One of the soft skills taught in an M.B.A. program is how to simply make your point. Sometimes delivering the most professional presentation might be a differentiating factor in pushing your ideas or business plans through. The M.B.A. also teaches you to devise and present a business plan. This can be in the traditional sense of the word, i.e., pitching a new business venture, but it also refers to what happens every day at work, i.e., pitching an idea or project to both internal and external stakeholders. As the business landscape becomes more and more competitive with more and more ideas in need of support and funding, ensuring that you have a solid business plan—and solid presentation skills with which to sell it—is crucial.
  6. Leverage opportunities outside the classroom. One of the most important aspects of the M.B.A. experience is the opportunities you will have outside of the classroom. At my school, for example, you can be part of the Venture Capital Club and/or the Entrepreneurship Club where you get to engage with alumni and other industry partners, providing a platform to discuss the latest trends in entrepreneurship. And the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship offers a start-up campus and entrepreneurship boot camps.

Through an M.B.A. program, you can gain the invaluable attributes you need to become an entrepreneur—be that setting up your own business or carving your way in traditional business.

Content provided by the Graduate Management Admission Council® (GMAC®), makers of the GMAT® exam. Learn more about graduate management education, business school, the GMAT, test prep, and GMAT accepting universities and schools on mba.com.

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