By Kayla Matthews
It’s the American Dream, right? Graduate high school, go to college, get a degree and open a successful business. Is an MBA (Masters in Business Administration) necessary to open and own a business?
New trends seem to suggest that it isn’t. Let’s take a closer look at these trends and help you figure out whether you need to go back to school to get the most out of your business.
Successful Without a Degree
An MBA might seem like the perfect tool to help you succeed when owning a business, but that isn’t always the case. Some hugely successful individuals, from Bill Gates of Microsoft to Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook succeeded without degrees, but they exemplify the exception rather than the rule.
A report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Small Business Administration shows that 20 percent of new businesses fail within the first 12 months. Of those that survive, only half will reach their five year anniversary.
The basis of any successful business means having more cash coming in than going out. This fundamental rule seems like common sense but business colleges still teach it — and many business owners without an MBA seem to miss this.
If you don’t have a degree but own a business, should you consider going back to school?
A Changing Landscape
Business isn’t as simple as it used to be. Gone are the days where you could open a store and make it successful by running a couple of ads in the local paper. The business landscape constantly changes, and it can be difficult to keep up with these changes without a degree under your belt — especially with new techniques taught in the classroom.
Getting an MBA is an expensive proposition — a complete degree program at a prestigious school can cost upwards of $130,000. For someone working in a business career, the ROI on a business degree is quicker than someone starting their own business. Becoming an entrepreneur doesn’t come with a signing bonus, unfortunately.
Networking Is Key
Getting an MBA — or taking some business-focused night classes to continue your education — isn’t just good for learning how to navigate the ever-changing business landscape. It is also an invaluable tool for creating professional connections that can mean the difference between a successful business and a failed one.
Even if you think you have enough experience to run a business, going to business school can be one good way to make the networking connections you might not find elsewhere. You might even find a business partner!
Experience Isn’t Everything
Small businesses start every single day based solely on the skills and passion of the business owner, but experience and passion aren’t always enough to keep a business afloat. Ambition will only carry you so far without the business acumen to turn your dreams into reality.
A business degree is also a great fall-back if your business ends up being one of the ones that fail within its first year. Having a few years of experience under your belt makes you a more attractive candidate for hiring managers than someone who has the same degree but is fresh out of college.
When it comes down to it, do you need an MBA to run a business? The answer is both yes and no. A business degree can teach you things you might not learn otherwise, and it is an invaluable tool for networking and gaining industry experience. You don’t need to have a degree to create a successful business, but it helps.
About the Author: Kayla Matthews writes about communication and workplace productivity on her blog, Productivity Theory. Her work has also appeared on Talent Culture, MakeUseOf, The Muse and Fast Company.