3 Reasons why MBAs are not entrepreneurial

In the last years we have seen how startups went through millionaire IPOs and acquisitions. This could be the reason for the increase in interest of MBAs students in entrepreneurship and early stage startups.

But still many MBAs are not going for it and these are 3 reasons why.

1.- MBAs are “picky”

During the courses, the students take on some of the most important challenges a business can face: launching products, designing growth strategies, choosing which company to acquire, etc. mba-picky-entrepreneurial-jobs

Learning through this cases provides a solid knowledge foundation. But as students get used to this “big challenge” they tend to see everything else as less important.

That “less important” stuff is more than 50% for most people (even CEOs). Although this tasks are the most painful in an early-stage startup: a team of 10 people is responsible for almost everything.

Almost Everything?

Unless the task is so critical that there is a specialist in the team or it is very cheap to outsource, guess who is doing it. Some of this work may include: searching for an office, buying office furniture, fixing your laptop, calling suppliers, etc.

2.- Business schools focus on strategy, not on implementation

In almost any class, students are required to think like C-level executives of a large corporation: CEO for Strategy, CMO for Marketing, COO for mba-strategy-implementation-startupOperations, etc. This is great for high level thinking and to understand how all the pieces fit together in a company. However, it is hard to relate to this when working on a startup.

Large corporations that have been running for years make an effort to keep everyone informed on the direction of the company and how the high-level goals cascade from C-level to entry-level in any department. Despite the lack of implementation experience newly hires are perfectly aware of how everything fits and their job is usually clearly defined. This is hardly the case in startups where new hires need to be proactive and start implementing in many different ways, often none of them is clearly defined.

In a way it is like joining a F1 designing team. You need to tweak that tiny part you are assigned to and being mindful on how it fits in the car.

Startups however it´s like joining another designer and try to put together a whole car. Your problems are more like “we´re still missing the wheels!” rather than “we need to remove 10 grams from the chassis”.


3.- MBAs are somewhat risk-averse

The cost of opportunity of taking almost 2 years off to attend business school is often on students’ mind.

It is a scary thought.mba-loan-entrepreneurship-jobs

What happens if they found a startup and goes wrong? How would they pay back their loans? How would they explain to themselves the huge investment made in the MBA?

Getting a well paid job in a large company is a safe bet. Moreover there is a feeling of “being responsible” and “doing the right thing” even if it´s just psychologically.

 Final thoughts

Some of the most important work that business schools are doing is to prepare students to understand the struggles of startups as well as the amazing experience that they can be.

Entrepreneurial MBAs are not just considering startups but also established companies: via intrapreneurship or entrepreneruship through acquisition.

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