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How an MBA Program Fits Into Your Entrepreneurship Journey

September 24, 2023

Completing an MBA program is a professional turning point. Some graduates use their degree to accelerate their growth into a leadership role. Others pivot into a new function such as consulting, finance, technology or management. And some launch new ideas in a bid to become successful entrepreneurs.

Bill Gates. Larry Page. Paul Allen. Steve Jobs. Sergey Brin. When people picture famous entrepreneurs, these names often come to mind. Some who complete an MBA program, see success only as becoming the richest person in the world.

However, these innovators are a tiny percentage of the world’s business leaders. We’ve been trained to think that the only way to be an entrepreneur is to strike it rich in the tech sector. That’s simply not the case.

This common misconception in our mindset overlooks the diversity in various paths and achievements of business leaders who have contributed significantly to other industries beyond the sole confines of extraordinary financial success. Hence it is essential to keep in mind that financial success is not the only reason why a professional would choose to take up an MBA program.

Entrepreneurs can be kids mowing lawns, restaurateurs, independent graphic design firms and even dog walking companies. Only considering net worth removes a great deal of vibrancy from the start-up community.

If you’ve founded a business, you’re an entrepreneur. That also means you understand that reaching success requires dedication, persistence and a drive to continually develop your leadership skills.

An entrepreneur seeks to use innovation to disrupt a market. Making the calls at a small company gives you the ability to react and adapt. An entrepreneur drives success by maximizing resources, limiting risk and meeting market demands – skills that are imparted in an MBA program. Entrepreneurship is an investment of time, energy, and in many cases, personal finances.

The Pros of Entrepreneurship

It’s not an easy path to take, but it has the potential for long-term and transformative rewards. Being a leader is an often cited benefit. You get to structure when, how and where you complete your work. Progress is made on your schedule and by your rules.

Another benefit is you have the ability to work on what matters to you, owing to the skills gained through an MBA program. Working towards a goal that aligns with your passions leads to better work and more satisfaction. As an entrepreneur you have control over the impact you make.

Furthermore, the promise of financial headwinds is alluring. A successful company opens new revenue streams. In this instance, hard work, smart decisions and solid intuition pay off in a way that directly supports you.

Finally, a major advantage of taking up entrepreneurship after completing an MBA program is the sense of autonomy that extends beyond working hours. It gives you the flexibility to create an environment of a healthy work-life balance tailored around your lifestyle. This assists you in aligning your personal and professional priorities to your satisfaction.

What You Should Know

On the flip side, there are risks. Getting a company started can require personal investment. Income may also be variable at the beginning. Financially, it can be touch-and-go during the early stages.

It is a delicate balance of financial risks and rewards that an entrepreneur needs to balance while establishing a solid foundation for the business. Fortunately a good MBA program prepares you for strategic financial planning and resilience to weather the uncertainties that come with starting or growing a business.

The role also comes with responsibilities. As a leader, a lot rests on your shoulders. Managing stress and remaining flexible is all part of the game. When it’s your skin in the game, no decision is ever taken lightly.

Finally, entrepreneurs don’t become titans of business without sacrifice. This is not a normal 9 to 5 job. Free time may be spent learning skills like pursuing an MBA program or studying the industry. Entrepreneurship may have great potential for rewards, but those who find their footing rarely do it without dedication and compromise.

What Makes a Great Entrepreneur

Embracing the positives and weathering the cons takes a unique personality. Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. However, there are key traits and strengths that predict successful business leaders.

The first two traits go hand in hand—confidence and resilience. The nature of the job means you have to make rules as you go. Confidence allows you to be certain of the decisions you make. Pursuing an advanced MBA program helps you understand the distinction between informed decision and following a hunch.

The other part is resilience. There’s a reason so many biographies exist about people who meet success. None of them got there without overcoming obstacles. Knowing how to get back up and learn lessons from the experience is simply part of the process.

An entrepreneur must also be collaborative, a quality often emphasized in an MBA program. No project makes it to market without the support of a team. As your efforts grow, you’ll need to know how to work with others and lead your employees. There is no room for ego when the stakes are high and the margin of error is slim.

The final piece of the puzzle is networking. Having a head start with connections and industry peers can make all the difference in finding success. As they say, “it’s who you know.” While your network isn’t the only indicator of making it, it can certainly make the process smoother.

Developing These Key Areas through an MBA Program

Getting a graduate degree is one path to building skills that are demanded of an entrepreneur. Stevens Institute of Technology has built its program to provide exposure to the key areas needed to be a leader. First, the process of earning an advanced degree sharpens your skills so you can talk from experience.

An MBA program also helps build confidence and leadership that’s critical for any start up company. However, leadership skills are best learned before finding yourself in a leadership position. A master’s degree exposes you to a range of subjects so you’re prepared when you encounter them in the real world.

Stevens knows it’s important to understand the technical aspects of running a company. That is why in our MBA program, we have classes in business analytics, financial management and economics for managers. This coursework gives you insight into the technical aspects of running a company to help you drive impact.

Collaboration is also a key skill that is strengthened by getting an MBA. Human capital can be one of your most powerful resources. Understanding how to work with others leads to stronger work. Stevens teaches class in leadership development, managerial judgment and decision making, and operations management to address this.
Finally, completing the MBA program at Stevens grows your contacts in many ways. As a graduate, you become part of an alumni network that spans the nation and industries. Your professors are also established business leaders and your two immersions will introduce you to more. Finally, your fellow MBA students also become valuable resources.

The MBA Program Advantage

As mentioned before, getting your MBA exposes you to many subjects and builds skills. Unlike boot camps and seminars, a master’s gives each subject the time it needs to be taught properly. There are also other advantages that help your entrepreneurship journey.

You also learn about finances during the MBA program. Running a company is more than bringing in more money than you spend. Pricing services, planning for expansion and having contingency funds are necessary. Figuring those out on the fly is a plan for disaster.

An MBA develops your business acumen as well through exposure gained during the program. Entrepreneurship is more than creating a property and shopping it around. At some point during your journey there will be deals, negotiations, meetings and even IPOs. Attempting these without any exposure at best leads to bad deals and – at worst – the company folding.

Moreover, an MBA program equips you with the crucial skills required for entrepreneurship, such as strategic thinking and decision making. The coursework ensures that when you step into the business world, you’ll do so with a proficient understanding of the diverse aspects of entrepreneurship.


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Why Stevens for an MBA Program?

The program at Stevens focuses on managerial, leadership and business skills that provide holistic training needed for entrepreneurship. It also goes beyond just academic exercise and includes two immersions held in and just outside New York City.

We’ve also invested heavily in our program so that it can best meet your needs. Synchronous and asynchronous courses allow you to be in a full time MBA program while still working. On top of that, being online means you can enroll from anywhere in the nation.

Finally, the numbers support our program. Alumni have found success at companies such as  Microsoft, American Express and Verizon. Stevens is one of the top ranked private schools for best career placement by the Princeton Review (2022). And the statistic that means the most to us is 100% of MBA program graduates in the Class of 2022 accepted job offers within three months of graduating (Based on data from 82% of the 2021-2022 full-time program graduates.)

Entrepreneurship is exciting. There’s a reason it’s glamorized in the media and woven into inspirational stories on the big screen. While there’s nothing certain when starting a business, an MBA program can provide you with skills and experience to set you up for success.

If you have plans to be an entrepreneur yourself, the first step may very well be submitting an application to Stevens. We’re always looking for eager, innovative students just like you.

Nothing would make us happier than adding your success story to our list of alumni accolades.