So, Why Do Entrepreneurs Need an MBA?

Entrepreneurs Need an MBA

Why do entrepreneurs need an MBA? If you plan on launching your own company someday, you don’t have to go to business school, right? Many would-be entrepreneurs think a brilliant idea alone will take them to the top. After all, things worked out fine for the MBA-less Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs.

The reality, though, is that for every super successful entrepreneur who eschewed the MBA, there are scores more entrepreneurs with MBA degrees who have changed the world, such as Nike co-founder Phil Knight, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, or Warren Buffett, who grew Berkshire Hathaway from a textile manufacturing business into the world’s sixth-largest public company.

An MBA program can’t teach you to feel more comfortable taking risks. It also won’t make you more passionate about your idea and won’t give you a constant thirst for new projects—those are some innate qualities a successful entrepreneur has.

However, an MBA program can teach you how to turn a good idea into a solid business. If you have startup fever, here are three reasons you should go to business school first and one time you may not need that MBA.

Curious about your chances of getting into a top B-school? Contact us to talk strategy with a free 15-minute advising session with an SBC Principal Consultant.

B-school is the best incubator for budding entrepreneurs

MBA programs have always prepared students to launch and manage their businesses. But over the last decade, the number of courses, centers, and contests dedicated exclusively to entrepreneurship has mushroomed.

Business school has become the safe place to test your most creative, outrageous, and ambitious ideas. And you can do so without the pressure and fear of failure if that company or those ideas don’t work. Ultimately, failure is just as valuable a learning tool as success. After all, it offers students the chance to find out what went wrong and refine their business models to nail it out in the real world next time.

You’ll have teachers and mentors guiding you as you search for that big idea that will change lives. You’ll also see all sides of the entrepreneurial experience, find out what it’s like to collaborate to execute your vision, and better understand whether entrepreneurship truly is your calling.

The Stanford MBA Class of 2022 Employment Report shows that 19% of the class launched their own venture. Meanwhile, a record number of women are pursuing entrepreneurship by starting a company or joining a startup.

B-school offers the best environment to build your team

Entrepreneurial success requires teamwork, strong business relationships, and a network of classmates who can provide introductions or offer advice in various areas. Likewise, you’ll benefit from having seasoned professors who can weigh in on business dilemmas as you build a plan. Good relationships with your professors can translate into a lifelong talent pipeline connecting graduates with current MBA students.

entrepreneurs need an MBA
Source: Harvard Business School

Even if—like most applicants—you don’t plan on pursuing a joint MBA degree, you can still take advantage of interdisciplinary studies in other areas that interest you. As a part of the greater university community, top-tier business schools often offer MBA students the chance to take courses alongside students from other graduate programs.

For example, the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business provides students with real-world entrepreneurial experiences through cross-campus initiatives and involvement with the business community. You might find someone outside the MBA program who could become a valuable asset to your team.

Listen to B-Schooled Podcast #150: Business School and the Entrepreneurial Journey

Why do entrepreneurs need an MBA? B-school will teach you how to run and grow a company—not just launch it.

So many entrepreneurs have failed at getting their business ideas off the ground precisely because they didn’t have some of the necessary tools in their arsenal that they would have learned at business school.

You have to be able to transition your idea into an actual business. It might be a startup, but you want it to grow – and last. More than many other business roles, an entrepreneur needs to know a little of everything. Even if you start a tech company, someone has to do the accounting, understand how to market your product or service, and act as a leader for the team.

Not every entrepreneur is a natural-born leader. Unfortunately, leadership isn’t easily learned from a book. An MBA program will help you hone those skills and apply them to your own venture.

If you choose a school that uses the case method, you’ll learn from others’ successes and mistakes about growing too quickly. Also, those HR management, business law, or venture capital financing classes could help you head off thorny workplace issues later.

U.S. News’s Best MBA Programs for Entrepreneurship

Here are the top business schools for entrepreneurship in 2023, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

  1. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College
  2. Stanford Graduate School of Business
  3. MIT Sloan School of Management
  4. Harvard Business School
  5. UC Berkeley Haas School of Business
  6. University of Pennsylvania Wharton School
  7. IU Kelley School of Business
  8. Michigan Ross School of Business
  9. UT McCombs School of Business
  10. Rice Jones Graduate School of Business (tied)

But…Maybe skip B-school altogether if you’re in a rush to launch a company rightnow.

Competition moves fast, especially in the tech industry. So if you already have your product or service fully developed, a crystal clear business plan, sufficient funding to sustain you, and a fantastic team in place and ready to execute—and if you think spending two years in a classroom might be an undesirable distraction—then it’s time to hit the ground running.

However, if there’s no urgency, why not take advantage of the many ways an MBA can give you a leg up as an entrepreneur? You’ll hone your strategic decision-making skills, expand your professional network, and get the managerial and leadership expertise you need to scale your ventures in a competitive business landscape.


Stacy Blackman Consulting offers multiple services to meet your MBA application needs. From our All-In Partnership to interview prep, essay editing, resume review, and much more, we’ve got you covered. Contact us today for a free 15-minute advising session to talk strategy with a Principal SBC consultant.

Here’s a snapshot of the caliber of expertise on our SBC team.

SBC’s star-studded consultant team is unparalleled. Our clients benefit from current intelligence that we receive from the former MBA Admissions Officers from Harvard HBS, Wharton and every elite business program in the US and Europe.  These MBA Admissions Officers have chosen to work exclusively with SBC.

Just two of the many superstars on the SBC team:
Meet Anthony, who served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he dedicated over 10 years of expertise.

Meet Andrea, who served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions Marketing at Harvard Business School (HBS) for over five years.

Tap into this inside knowledge for your MBA applications by requesting a consultation.


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