Should you do an MBA or start your own business??

I did my MBA in Hong Kong at HKUST (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology). The school is amazing and currently ranked#10 worldwide by the Financial Times. Moreover, I learned many things in many fields and I built a great network spread in all five cotenants. I also had a great opportunity working and living in many different cities (Hong Kong, Montevideo in Uruguay, Granada and Barcelona in Spain). So the experience was simply awesome. However, I realized that the MBA as a studying curriculum was not that useful for people trying to start their own business, especially if the school is not focused in the Entrepreneurship field. If you are between starting your own business and doing an MBA, then I’ll strongly suggest to start your own business.
After finishing my MBA, I thought I know everything in the world in every field. Seriously, you’ll think that you are better in marketing than a guy who worked 15 yrs in marketing, just because you took 3-5 marketing classes. I thought I knew a lot about strategy and management just  because my professor used to work at Mckinsey.
Basically, you know many things and you want to use what you learned. I have a bad news for all of the MBA’s, your MBA is not that useful in the Startup world. What you learned can be applied in big companies, not in startups. Startups are not a small version of big companies. In a big company you have a proven business model with a known customer, a known market with a known product. In a startup everything is unknown, and you will not learn until you try and fail. In the MBA they teach us how to avoid failure, while in a startup you should fail to learn.
Even if you are doing an MBA just to learn new things, then you’ll probably learn much more things if you started your own business. If you want to do a full-time MBA then consider working in your startup full-time. Investors and people working in the Startup field appreciate a guy that failed 1-2 times with previous startups 10x times more than a regular MBA guy. As a matter of fact we are embarrassed sometimes to say that we have an MBA, especially in front of VCs and investors.
Things that I wished that they taught us in the MBA:
Still I don’t regret doing my MBA at all. I made a lot of great friends all over the world and I also met my colleagues and co-founders that together founded our first startup in Spain.
By the way, my friend just arrived from Hong Kong with my MBA degree and I’m going to receive it today, I hope he will still give it to me after reading this post :)
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4 Comments

  1. Yousef Almenayes

     /  July 18, 2012

    Starting a business (High growth potential) needs contacts, networks, experts…etc. and doing an MBA in a prestigious program gives you access to the right people. Let us take your MBA experience for example: your first Start-up co founders are your classmates. Having said that, If you have a good network and basic knowledge for doing business I believe it is better to start your own business rather than doing an MBA for the reasons you mentioned in your blog.
    Best of luck

    Reply
    • Hola Yousif,

      Well I agree that you need the stuff you mentioned, but you don’t need an MBA to get them. You just need to start in a place with a healthy startup ecosystem. A startup ecosystem includes all of what you mentioned and more; good network, contacts, experts, investors….etc. While Silicon Valley is considered the best place for a startup, other cities in the region are also preforming well. Amman, Jordan are considered one of the best in the world and Dubai also is a friendly place to start an online business. In Kuwait we have almost nothing, but together we can change that.

      What I’m saying is that if you are 100% sure you want to start your own business, then don’t waste your time in school, go and start it right away.
      This is the kind of passion you need to be successful and this what you need in an entrepreneur that wants to build a multi-million company.

      Reply
  2. Yousef Almenayes

     /  July 18, 2012

    Couldn’t agree more.

    Reply
  3. Mohammad MJ

     /  July 29, 2012

    While I don’t disagree that, given the choice between the two, starting up a business may very well be the better choice, personally I wouldn’t have known where to start if I didn’t go and do my MBA. The way we are taught to think and approach problems, in my opinion, helps us in becoming more focused about what we want to do.

    It’s entirely possible of course to just go out there and read, ask, try, fail, re-try, and succeed without going to business school; I just found it helpful in narrowing focus.

    Keep up the good work bro!

    Reply

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