There’s a growing sentiment that anyone can start a business, regardless of their background. All you need is a great idea, and a willingness to put in the hard work — and the ability to handle setbacks — and you can start a successful business.
Whether or not that is the case is up for debate, but one thing that isn’t debatable is that business education, specifically an MBA, is immeasurably valuable for entrepreneurs. The lessons one can learn while studying for an MBA can be applied to nearly every aspect of life and business, and the hands-on, real-world skills gained through the study of business can actually make it easier to run a business and prevent some of the setbacks and difficulties that many entrepreneurs face.
While typically students must take practical coursework to learn the principles of business while they earn an MBA degree, there are also a number of theoretical lessons learned as well. Whether you are just starting out with your own business or you have several years of experience under your belt, learning these lessons can help you run your business more successfully.
1. Get a Mentor
One thing that many MBAs have in common is the belief that having a mentor is one of the keys to their success — and that the ability to meet and work with potential mentors was one of the best parts of their educational experience. MBA students are in a unique position to find mentors, since they work closely with successful and knowledgeable people every day. As an entrepreneur, having someone in your corner who is passionate about your venture and believes in you can be a significant asset, since not only can that person provide advice and encouragement when you need it most, but also open doors that might have otherwise remained closed.
2. Work Hard
There is a common perception that owning a business is a ticket to “easy street,” where you only need to work a few hours per week and the rest of the time you can hang out on the beach while your business runs itself. While becoming an entrepreneur does allow you to dictate the terms of your lifestyle to an extent, there is no substitute for hard work and dedication. Successfully completing an MBA program requires dedication and hard work, especially if you are working or running a business while you learn, and that work ethic can carry over to your business after graduation. As mega-mogul Mark Cuban points out, “there are no shortcuts,” and entrepreneurs must be willing to do everything necessary to grow their businesses in order to be successful.
3. Negotiate Everything
Another key lesson that many MBAs point to as a factor in their success is the idea that “everything is negotiable.” Developing negotiation skills is an important part of any MBA curriculum, and entrepreneurs can immediately put those skills to use to save money and get better deals for their companies.
4. Embrace Change
Change management is another foundational skill for most MBA programs, with students being taught to view challenges as opportunities and effective means of managing change. For a business to grow and thrive, entrepreneurs must maintain a mindset geared toward continuous growth and improvement. That requires an acceptance of and the ability to manage change. It’s not always easy, but by maintaining a vision for the company and making decisions with that vision in mind, change becomes less frightening and more exciting.
5. Develop Leadership Skills
Finally, some argue that leadership is something that cannot be taught, and that great leaders are born, not made. However, there’s a growing school of thought that leadership skills can actually be developed, and that an MBA can play an important role in that process. Most MBA programs include a leadership component, and students are taught how to become effective leaders — something that’s vital to the success of any company that plans to hire and manage staff. Successful companies need strong leaders, and an MBA fosters those important skills.
Running a successful company requires more than skills in theoretical concepts like leadership and a willingness to work hard. Hard skills in management, accounting, finance, and legal issues are also important. However, if you are on the fence about whether an MBA degree is worthwhile in your pursuit of entrepreneurship, keep these important lessons in mind and understand the full value of earning the advanced degree.