We like to highlight women entrepreneurs here, and in that vein it’s worth noting that there’s been a significant trend toward women starting independent businesses in recent years. In late 2013, an article in Strategy & Business detailed this development by taking an in-depth look at the rise of “mompreneurs,” or mothers who opt to start businesses or become self-employed while raising children. Now, we recognize that not all female business owners or entrepreneurs are also mothers, but in some ways the label of “mompreneur” has become the standard-bearer for the overall rise of female entrepreneurs.
One of the most interesting aspects of “mompreneurship” is that it is often born out of necessity. Mothers who start companies are generally looking for ways to gain extra income and channel their interests and expertise while raising children, and in such situations, entrepreneurship may not have been the original plan. While it’s difficult to find comprehensive data to support the statement, this common situation implies that many, if not most mompreneurs don’t actually set out to run businesses—meaning many, in all likelihood, skip business school.
And if that works, then there’s certainly nothing wrong with it. Surely there are countless success stories of women starting businesses without the aide of an advanced business degree. Additionally, there have been plenty of arguments made in recent years that an MBA is not necessarily worth the cost it takes to go to school.
But on the other hand, it’s important to recognize that, while not necessary in each and every case, the MBA does still carry numerous benefits for those looking to start businesses. With more women entrepreneurs making headlines these days, it’s certainly conceivable that more girls and young women will set their sights on founding businesses one day, and for the benefit of these young, potential entrepreneurs, we’d like to highlight some of the benefits an MBA can still provide.
Applying Can Give You Direction
Applying to business school is different than most other types of applications in that it truly involves deciding what you want to do. Your job is to present yourself as someone who will not only succeed in the classroom, but in business beyond school, and in doing so, you may just help to establish your own direction.
Part of this means recognizing your own shortcomings. In a blog post designed to help MBA candidates write about weaknesses, Alice van Harten of Menlo Coaching encourages applicants to express honest, genuine failures and discuss what those failures might have taught them. Questions and ideas like these can help you to gain a deeper understanding of your strengths, and the direction you wish to go. Without going through graduate school, you may never ask these sorts of questions of yourself.
Peers Are Great Examples
One of the great intangible benefits of an MBA education is what you can learn from your peers along the way. Sure, your time in classrooms and with professors will be valuable, but it’s difficult to overstate the benefit of being around people with similar motivations and aspirations as yourself—particularly when some of them will be older and more experienced than you are.
In an article on the intangible benefits of the MBA, the University of North Carolina’s MBA blog pointed to several key points—namely, leadership, teamwork, strategic thinking, and alumni networks—that all fall under the umbrella of associating with peers. The bottom line is that an MBA education exposes you to a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be in a community that teaches you all of these skills and values at once.
You’re A More Valuable Commodity
Finally, it should be noted that with an MBA in hand, you may be considered a more valuable commodity when it comes time to ask for investments or loans for a company you hope to start. To be clear, most investors will care primarily about your business plan and how you can help them to make returns on investment. But we’ll put it this way: if two entrepreneurs present the exact same business plan, and only one has an MBA, investors are likely to value the experience and business understanding that comes with the degree.
At the end of the day it’s up to each hopeful entrepreneur whether or not an MBA is worth the time and money. As mentioned, there are certainly plenty of examples of successful female entrepreneurs who have down it without the degree! But these potential benefits should still be considered as you make your own decision.