MBAs are fantastic for entrepreneurs and business owners. Because MBA programs typically focus on skills and knowledge pertaining to leadership — such as communication and motivation strategies as well as marketing and finance decisions — they tend to produce graduates who excel in startup environments. If you haven’t already considered earning an MBA to enhance your entrepreneurial dreams, you should.
Still, an MBA is a significant investment. If you aren’t prepared to commit to your studies or unsure how you will use the knowledge and skills you gain, you probably won’t see much benefit from your advanced business degree. Before you enroll in an MBA program, you should think seriously about the following five questions:
1. Where Do You Want to Work?
Traditionally, where you earn your degree is typically where you’ll start your career. Thanks to online education, you can enroll in top-tier programs in far-flung colleges without leaving the comfort of your current home; you can earn a California MBA without setting foot near the West Coast.
Still, it is worth considering where you want to live and work before you apply for MBA programs. Some schools cater their curriculum to laws and conventions in the surrounding regions, meaning you are better equipped to begin your business in the area around your chosen educational institution. If you hate the idea of a Wisconsin winter, you might not want to seek an MBA from a school up north, even if it is online.
2. What Skills Do You Want to Focus On?
There is a standard MBA that provides well-rounded expertise in all things business leadership — but that isn’t your only option. If you are more interested in deeply studying a specific skill or knowledge set pertaining to business, you can earn a specialized MBA. There are at least 13 different concentrations available to potential MBA students, including:
- Business Management
- Human Resources Management
- Information Systems
- International Business Management
- Operations Management
- Risk Management
- Technology Management
Not all schools will offer all specializations, which is why you should evaluate your interest in pursuing a concentration before you apply.
3. How Much Time to You Have for Study?
There are definitely wrong times to return to school for your MBA. For example, if you have already launched your startup, you probably don’t have enough time to balance running your baby business and studying for exams. Though online education is more flexible than traditional courses, you still need enough time to watch lectures, complete readings, and work on homework and projects.
Fortunately, if you are pressed for time, you might consider participating in a part-time MBA program. Though it takes longer to earn in full, a part-time program won’t be as demanding day-to-day, allowing you to build your startup and benefit from advanced business education.
4. Who Can You Trust to Teach You?
Just because you are pursuing an MBA to prepare you for entrepreneurship doesn’t mean you can ignore the reputation of educational institution. Though prospective employers won’t consider your credentials, potential investors, and clients might. Plus, schools with better reputations are more likely to provide high-quality educations, meaning you’ll get more knowledge and skill for the time you put into your program.
While evaluating reputation, you should research available student services and alumni satisfaction, both of which are telling of the overall quality of the program. You might also investigate the credentials of the instructors to ensure they have thorough backgrounds in business. Only then can you trust what they teach you.
5. Why Do You Want an MBA?
This is possibly the most important question of all. Too many students attest to enrolling in MBA programs for bad reasons, such as they prefer school over work or they don’t know what else to do with their lives. Before you jump head-first into earning your MBA, you should know for certain that this degree (rather than any other) is something you want and something that will positively impact your career.
As you delve into this question, you might consider starting an MBA diary. In a dedicated notebook, you should write down your thoughts and feelings about earning an MBA to chronicle your journey. During this journaling, you should uncover positive reasons to seek this degree, such as a passion for business or ideas ripe for entrepreneurship. As long as you remain confident and driven to obtain your MBA, you should accomplish your goal — and begin your small business dreams — sooner than expected.