You don’t need an MBA to consult…

I’m living proof. No MBA, and in fact, I’m an MBA dropout. But more on that later.

This post was precipitated by a recent post by Martin Zwilling at Startup Professional Musings, where Martin discusses the pros and cons of an MBA for entrepreneurs.

His advice is right in the title – Don’t Delay Your First Startup to Get an MBA. I could not agree more — don’t delay a JumpToConsulting for the same reason.

Now my personal dropout story.

I had just started a new job as a Field Sales Engineer.  My new boss, who I admired, was an EE with an MBA from a local university. When asked, he spoke highly of the program, and encouraged me to take advantage of the evening program and the tuition reimbursement.

So I enrolled. The first courses were interesting, and I learned some good stuff about finance and accounting. However, it was apparent that the MBA was designed to prepare one to move up in the corporation – not to start your own venture.

By that time in my career, I was already smitten with the entrepreneurial¬† itch. Unfortunately, you can’t shake it.

So I was faced with a decision — spend the next two years studying to become a corporate rat, or spend the next two years plotting and planning my eventual escape to independence through consulting. As you may have guessed, I did the latter. Damn glad I did, too!

Incidentally, this is not meant to disparage the MBA, or any other advanced degree. (My older son has an MBA, and it has helped him immensely.) If you already have one, toot your horn. After all, you worked hard for it and you earned it!

But as Martin points out, if you are itching to be an entrepreneur, more education may actually slow you down. Unfortunately, many people use getting an advanced degree as a crutch in lieu of just jumping in and starting something.

Some advice for my fellow geeks. I agree with Martin — if you have NO business background, the MBA can give you basic business knowledge. But so can a few good business books.

Or, you can do like I did, and get a job as a Sales Engineer. I learned more about business, sales, and marketing in the first year that I had in the previous ten years as a design engineer. Plus the real world sales experience was far more valuable than any theoretical MBA class could provide. Nothing quite like doing it to really learn it!

Finally, if you really want an MBA, the go for it. But just make it will take you where you want to go.

PS – If you have the entrepreneurial itch, sign for Martin Zwilling’s blog. It is a daily dose (yes, every single day) of solid business advice from a fellow Arizona Baby Boomer with a ton of experience as a successful entrepreneur.

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One Response to “You don’t need an MBA to consult…”

  • [...] Regarding the last, NO, you don’t need to go back to school for another degree. Unless it is necessary, like to become the doctor you always wanted to be. Too often, however, this is just a cop out for making the hard decisions on what to do next. See this post. [...]

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