Starting a Company

Do You Need an MBA to Start a Business?

Written by James Garvin for Gaebler Ventures

Entrepreneurs come from a vast array of different backgrounds. Many have doctoral degrees, some just high school degrees, and some have MBA's. Many want to be entrepreneurs see getting an MBA a means to learning how to launch there own business, but there are many gaps between what you'll learn in business school and what you'll need to know to be a successful entrepreneur.

Business school teaches you many things that cannot be learned anywhere else and provides you the opportunity to enrich yourself as an individual, as a manager, and as a leader.

Do You Need An MBA To Start A Business

When it comes to entrepreneurship however, many things taught in business school does not apply to entrepreneurship. The theoretical approach that many business schools take in teaching students about the principles of business and strategy can and do have profound practical impacts in business, but they often do not translate into the required skills that you need as an entrepreneur (although they do not hurt!).

In business school, you learn the fundamentals required to run a business and many other skills such as leadership and how to run multiple regression analysis, discounted cash flows, and conjoint analyses. However, what you learn in business school teaches you very little about how to actually start a business; in practical terms. The two (starting vs. running), while very closely related, are also worlds apart when it comes to the skills, knowledge, and actions required to start or run a business.

Many people talk about trying to finding the common characteristics that pre-determine the success of a company. While such factors do not and will not exist there are common traits among all entrepreneurs that do exist, meaning if you lack these traits, you're odds of succeeding are slim to none.

The common traits among all entrepreneurs are: belief, drive, determination, passion, luck, having a support structure, and motivation to succeed. You can't learn these traits in business school; many are inherent or learned along your way through life. Knowing how to perform multiple regression, conjoint analysis, or discounted cash flows are not common traits among successful entrepreneurs. They are traits and skills that can help you along the way, and are certainly skills that can help you run a business, but they are not traits required to start a business.

There is no formal training that you can receive to become an entrepreneur, but there are things that you can do to immerse yourself in it. The following exercises will help you understand some of the traits, skills, and willpower you will need to be an entrepreneur. If you have successfully passed them all and still want to be an entrepreneur, then go get em!

1. Go earn $100 on the street in an hour.

2. Walk into a random business and convince them that they need to buy something from you.

3. Ask your parents, in-laws, or family members for $100,000. Tell them it's for a business you are starting. If they ask what the business is, tell them its top secret.

4. Tell your spouse that you quit your job and are starting your own company starting tomorrow (what is their response?)

5. Start a part-time business with the goal of making 1/10 your salary in a month.

James Garvin began his education studying biotechnology. In recent years he has turned his interest in technology to helping two internet startup companies. The first business was an online personal financial network and the second was an e-marketing platform created to help entrepreneurs demo their web sites. Currently a student at University of California Davis, James is spending his summer incubating two new online businesses and writing about his entrepreneur experiences.

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