The Top 5 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn from MBAs


Do you really need an MBA to start and run your own business? Personally, I think not really. Seriously, can’t anyone just have a business idea, grow it, get some funding and launch their businesses? However, don’t expect to compete healthily with a Harvard MBA.

Anyway, what separates an MBA from any other entrepreneur? It obviously can’t be the title or the hefty price you paid for the MBA. Much has something to do with the lessons learnt. This however, depends with the quality of education taught at whichever University you enrolled. Nevertheless, so long as the taught curriculum is similar (assuming you studied in the same country), there are those MUST HAVE topics. Such topics as finance; statistics; accounting; business custom writing; differences between international business ethics and business ethics and so much more are likely taught in all business schools. You can wake up and start a business but you can never just wake and know the 4 P’s of a marketing mix. You just have to attend a business class. After a thorough research, I’ve complied 5 lessons entrepreneurs can learn from MBAs that will help you run your business.


Negotiate everything

This is perhaps the most valuable lesson any entrepreneur can learn. Everything in life is negotiable. As a businessman you should never think of such things as ‘fixed pricing’. Come to think of it, if there were such things as fixed prices, interviewees would never negotiate their salaries with their potential future employers. As an entrepreneur, you’re likely to be making lots of deals in the near future. The knowledge of what to say and when to say it would be an invaluable asset to your business. That is probably why the MBA curriculum incorporates negotiation skills. Every student gets to learn how to make better deals, bid for tenders and eventually save some cash for the business. According to Dr. Ahmed, a professor of strategic leadership and international business in the UAE, negotiation skills are required for gathering customers, satisfying them and eventually maintaining them. These are not the only situations you need to put your best foot forward in negotiating. When it comes to launching a business, you need to weigh between starting an online or a regular brick and mortar business. If it’s a brick and mortar, where to set it up requires some further thinking which eventually will need some negotiating. When it comes to financing of the business, you can never escape some negotiation. This is regardless of whether it’s a bank, borrowing from friends/relatives or any financing agents.


entrepreneurs can learn from MBAs


Leadership skills are a must

What is so exceptional about all leaders? Is it true that all leaders are born and not made? If this is true, does it mean one can never learn some quick leadership skills? These are the questions that linger in my head when I think about leadership and an MBA. Honestly speaking, if leaders can’t be made; why then do we have a leadership and organizational behavior course being taught at Harvard Business School in the very first year of an MBA curriculum? Ellen Chisa reports that leadership is all about focusing on the one thing that we really do wrong and improving on it. Many leaders concentrate on what they do right and try to conceal their worst selves from their teams. In the long run, this affects the whole group in a way or another. Similarly, strong leaders are absolutely necessary for the success of any organization. These are the type that makes the hard decisions about the company. Management, hiring, legal issues, financing and other seemingly simple concepts require top notch leadership skills. Don’t sneak around during the ‘human relations’ or ‘motivation’ classes. You’ll need them later in life.


entrepreneurs can learn from MBAs


Work tirelessly/never give up hope

“Nobody ever drowned in his own sweat.” Advice columnist Ann Landers could never have put it in better terms. I know some are probably thinking whether there’s a specific class where MBA’s are taught never to give up. I can only think of one: the entire course! Starting and managing a business successfully is never that easy. This is against most people’s perceptions that just starting a business is an automatic entry to the next social class. It’s actually not. Running a business and studying at the same time is even worse. There is no time for lying around and enjoying a luxurious lifestyle. It requires a lot of sacrifice and dedication. A balance between your work life, studies and personal life also requires your consideration. Successful completion of your MBA is surely a lesson on itself. Hard work and dedication are what you carry home eventually.


Learn from others

Learn from your crucibles, so we’re told. Actually, “the ability to learn from experience distinguishes great leaders from average ones. The most fertile of these experiences are crucibles –times of trial and failure as often as success.” However true this might be, we need to have someone to look up to and emulate. These are the people to set bars for us. Learning from our turmoil, mistakes and achievements is average (good) but learning from others is exceptional (way better). MBA holders believe in good mentorship. Good thing for them is that they gain exposure to these people. Starting from their professors, fellow students and the people they interact with on daily basis. This is an advantageous position you’d never have found yourself in if you never went for the MBA. Additionally, it feels great to have someone who’s got your back, understands your venture/desire and is willing to help you through. It’s in the same avenues that they get to meet people to partner with or finance their business ideas. Generally, it feels great to work in an environment where you’re exposed to like-minded persons who’re in a position to help you out.


entrepreneurs can learn from MBAs


Teams are more productive than individuals

If you talk to almost any MBA student, they’ll confess that most of the projects conducted were done in groups. Regardless of whether you’re the team leader or not; you need to develop some teamwork skills. It’s also undeniably true that teams make better decisions than individuals. The reason is simply because the minds are different and thoughts too. Their inputs are equally different. Organizations have come to appreciate these concepts and are now serious about teamwork more than ever. This has been the trend since the conception of the teamwork ideas in the early 2000’s. When hiring, look for the Type-A high strung personalities to work with. Hiring requires extra care because this is a person who might make or destroy your company. They might add value or actually cost you much cash. As the team-leader, look for experienced, similar-minded individuals who have a wide knowledge in the open positions. Gwen Moran advises that we ought to emphasize on roles rather than job titles amongst other factors when hiring. These are amongst the major topics learnt by MBA’s.


Final say

I really hope you find these lessons helpful in your endeavors as an entrepreneur. If you’re have your MBA, I hope you found your MBA worth your studying. All in all, these lessons can be the only thing between you and great success.

What do you think? Can MBA coursework benefit entrepreneurs? Share your thoughts in the comments.