There are many types of business leaders. There are middle managers, who supervise the grunts and oversee everyday projects. There are directors and administrators, who claim more responsibilities but often still answer to higher-ups. There are executives, who make wide-reaching, long-term plans, hoping to lead businesses to greater successes. Finally, there is the ultimate type of business leader: the business owners who do everything and anything they can for their businesses.
Throughout the differing levels of business leadership, one fact remains true: An MBA is crucial to success. No matter what type of business leader you hope to be, you need to be prepared with the right skills and knowledge. MBA programs provide every business leader, from team managers to entrepreneurs, with the following crucial abilities:
Not every business idea is a winner, but sadly, many entrepreneurs do not realize that until it’s too late. MBA programs provide students with the opportunity to test ideas and executions before they invest time and resources. If a business concept flops in a sterile testing scenario, it’s not likely it will flourish in the greater market. Entrepreneurs can apply this testing expertise to any bright idea, allowing them to avoid costly mistakes.
Business moves fast, and new business moves faster. Once a startup gets going, an entrepreneur needs to move swiftly to achieve early milestones and establish a firm foundation for the business. Most MBA programs strive to be even more rigorous than business, and assignments often have near-impossible deadlines that forces students to commit to projects’ speedy completion. After a couple years of the breakneck pace of an MBA program, the pace of a new business will feel leisurely to an entrepreneur.
A significant portion of the coursework in MBA programs is related to math, so students gain a firm grasp of economics and finance. Reading and writing financial statements, to include balance sheets, profit-and-loss statements, and cash flow statements, are skills few regular people can truthfully claim, but they are imperative for the proper functioning of a new business. Even if an entrepreneur leaves an MBA program only knowing how to properly build a spreadsheet, he or she is better equipped to manage startup finances.
Though it might not be taught in a classroom, the ability to network is one skill that every MBA program teaches. MBA students have ample opportunities to shake hands with important (and soon-to-be important) professionals, and doing so helps them learn who they can trust for support and who is just a passing face.
More notably, students begin establishing their networks while in school, so they can have formidable allies in their professional future. Though not everyone in business school is destined for greatness, many MBA grads will gain influential positions in corporations around the world. Even in an online MBA, students gain practice interacting and socializing with peers who will likely be useful in the future.
Entrepreneurs who have personal relationships with powerful (and wealthy) people stand a better chance at achieving business success, especially when they go looking for funding.
Even more than most professionals, entrepreneurs must master the art of selling. For at least five years, an entrepreneur will need to pitch an idea hundreds of times: to partners, employee teams, vendors, investors, and customers and convince them to buy in. Though many entrepreneurs are tempted to ignore sales, outsourcing the responsibility to a dedicated sales department, the fact is a business owner never stops benefiting from the ability to sell.
Fortunately, MBA programs stress the importance of the sales skill. By obtaining an MBA, entrepreneurs will have the time and space to practice their pitches, learning exactly how to influence different audiences.
Most entrepreneurs dream that their new businesses will earn them near-immediate wealth and fame, but MBA grads know too well that success is not a straight line. Plan A might work for a while, but soon enough, they will need Plans B, C, and D to keep the business afloat. No single business strategy will work forever, so the ability to recognize a fading plan and reorganize quickly is a necessary skill for business owners.
Not every MBA grad plans to be an entrepreneur, but every entrepreneur should seriously consider earning an MBA. MBA programs provide the invaluable tools professionals need to strike out on their own, and without proper training, most entrepreneurs won’t find success with any business venture.
Jackie Roberson is a content coordinator and contributor who creates quality articles for topics like technology, home life, and education. She studied business management and is continually building positive relationships with other publishers and the Internet community.