Boundless Business

MBA and entrepreneurship go hand in hand

Getting an MBA is no longer a means to a stellar corporate career alone. MBA programmes around the world have increasingly turned into incubators for bold and innovative entrepreneurs in various fields of industry. See how an MBA programme can help you turn your entrepreneurial idea into a real business venture.

Whether you are fresh out of undergraduate school or a seasoned professional, starting a business is a thrilling and often intimidating endeavour. There is a lot to be learned and many mistakes to be made before you feel confident you are on the right track. Learning how to run and grow your own business, in any industry, is an excellent reason to enrol in an MBA programme, all around the world.

MBA studies not only provide many theories and practical experiences that entrepreneurs later use in starting up a company, but also allows students to immerse themselves in a strong entrepreneurial environment abundant in innovative ideas. A good MBA programme in entrepreneurship offers the possibility to connect with other students and faculty members who could further assist you in realising a good idea. An MBA could be an efficient springboard to larger entrepreneurial circles thanks to special networking events, real life projects and internships in global companies. 

As with all other MBA-related decisions, once again

Location is key

Why? Because it can unlock the potential of your future business to go international. A degree in the UK, for example, could open your doors not just to local businesses but also to the whole extended network of UK former territories and their businesses. Just like a location such as the Netherlands could put you on track to east Asia, or one in France to the north of Africa, a programme in Spain could unleash the endless potential of Central and South America. Alternatively, a programme in the U.S. could create opportunities to grow in the local market there, which is large enough. That would probably not be as possible if you chose a school in Eastern Europe, for example. On the other hand, such a choice could get you better prepared for the vast Russian market, or the Middle East. The possibilities are endless.

On a similar note, consider your programme of choice’s connections to local business, and what that local business is. If you hope to develop an IT company, maybe it is a good idea to look at programmes located in or around well-developed silicon valleys? The world is full of such niche areas. Think UK and energy, California and the pharma industry, Sweden and export, the Netherlands and shipping, Singapore and finance, and so on. You should be able to fit in there somewhere too.

A location in a country of great diversity promises opportunities to learn about international business, foreign markets, client expectations in various countries, funding opportunities and return on investment.

Practical application and leadership

In business, it is all about practice and leadership. How do you, as a business owner, remove yourself from the day-to-day minutiae of your company to focus on growth strategies.

An MBA focused on entrepreneurship will help you explore growth stage startups and experience the difficulties they are facing in scaling up.

Programmes will provide different tools to immediately put word into practice. Business incubators, practical consulting projects, internship opportunities, real life case solving contests, networking opportunities, venture projects, management practice courses and leadership seminars. The list is endless.

Such programmes will envelop you in a kind of entrepreneurial environment formed by diverse and globally minded professors and students that will help you transform your idea into a working company.

For example, the Cambridge Judge School of Business (CJSB) offers the Cambridge Venture Project (CVP) which provides real life projects relating to actual clients in the Cambridge area or the wider UK market, to which you could provide consultancy services.

HEC Paris, which is well known for its entrepreneurship programme, offers its special HEC eLab equipped with state of the art technologies for enhanced interaction between group participants, which aims to stimulate their creativity and communication. .

Schools that offer entrepreneurship MBAs gladly post on their websites testimonials by alumni who have successfully developed their own businesses, often even before they have completed their studies, and with the help of programme-provided instruments. Make sure you check those out prior to making a decision. Universities’ alumni associations usually readily place candidates in touch with alumni with matching interests. Try to make the most of such an opportunity.

Meet real business

Good entrepreneurship programmes will offer numerous opportunities to meet real business representatives, either at organized activities or through various projects where students can work hand-in-hand with actual entrepreneurs or assist them in various endeavours.

One excellent example is Wharton’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence Programme, which allows Wharton and Penn students access to successful entrepreneurs and all the experience, advice and hand-on guidance they can provide. This is done through one-to-one 30-minute meetings with visiting entrepreneurs who come to campus especially to take part in this programme.

This kind of access is available at smaller schools too. For example, IE in Madrid has launched a very innovative project, 4º edition of Pasion>ie, in cooperation with Accenture. Its purpose is to act as a meeting ground between innovation and the entrepreneurial environment. Ultimately, it aims to contribute to increasing social and economic welfare through innovative projects, while helping startups implement projects designed to solve specific global problems.

Moreover, Spain in general is truly supportive of entrepreneurial initiatives. The Spain Startup Co-investment Fund (SSCF) is a €40 million co-investment fund created by ENISA, Spain´s leading government agency, in collaboration with IE Business School, for the development of the venture capital industry in Spain. It also aims to draw the attention of international early stage investors to the entrepreneurial talent in Spain. In its first year, the SSCF network invested over €50m in 110 startups.

Barcelona City Hall organizes the Business Plan Contest, Global Entrepreneurship Competition and Growth Potential Business award on a yearly basis. The city often hosts international entrepreneurial events and provides plenty of learning opportunities for the future entrepreneurs of the world, all to the purpose of encouraging entrepreneurship as a means of consistently supporting the local economy.

Entrepreneurship programmes often have active practitioners among their faculty who bring loads of experience to the table. It is only from people in the frontline that you can really learn about the creativity and psychology of new product development, discovering entrepreneurial opportunities and leadership.

In all cases, business schools in well-developed business areas are highly sought-after by local, regional and global businesses for their strong research and innovativeness. This is especially true in the industries of renewed interest, such as renewable energy, sustainability, technology and agriculture. These are areas that rely on cutting edge knowledge and technology in order to exist and grow. If you are interested in these, ideally they would be interested in your school too.

Choosing your programme wisely means exactly that: doing your homework and checking all extended possibilities that both the business programme and the greater university could offer you, so that your entrepreneurial spirit could blossom and your business ideas could turn into a reality somewhere around the world.

This article has been produced by Advent Group and featured in the 2015-2016 Access MBA Guide

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