Earning a Master in Business Administration can prepare professionals for a wide variety of career paths, from healthcare to supply chain to investments.
Becoming an entrepreneur is no exception. Though not exactly a requirement for starting a business, completing an MBA program can teach students a plethora of key lessons that will aid in their business ventures.
Seven highly important lessons graduates of the Online MBA program at Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business learn include:
1. How to work with a team
It’s common to imagine starting or running a business to be a solitary undertaking, Forbes contributor Aileron wrote. However, many entrepreneurs find that this is not the case; teamwork is essential for business success.
MBA students learn quickly how to work as a team—even when they have no control over who is on their team, Aileron pointed out. The ability to collaborate is an important skill to have in the business world; leaders don’t always decide who they do or don’t work with.
2. How to understand your finances
A successful business pays the bills—there’s no way around the need for cash to fuel a venture. While this might sound like an obvious statement, a surprising amount of new businessmen and women overlook this highly critical fact, Entrepreneur contributor Christopher Hann wrote.
For this reason, MBA students spend considerable time focusing on financial courses and accounting classes. For example, Northeastern University’s Online MBA program includes such relevant classes as:
• Financial Statement Preparation and Analysis.
• Identifying Strategic Implications in Accounting Data.
The ability to read and actually understand the information detailed in balance sheets, financial statements and other spreadsheets is highly important, Aileron explained. However, many entrepreneurs who lack an MBA don’t have these skills, and their businesses may suffer as a result, Harvard Business Review contributor Stephen Greer pointed out. Graduates of an MBA program will have these abilities, therefore allowing them to carefully watch the cash flow of their businesses.
3. How to create company culture
A successful company is more than just profit. Entrepreneurs must know how to manage people while also keeping them engaged. This isn’t always easy; a person must develop the ability to become an effective leader to be a successful entrepreneur, Greer pointed out.
MBA programs often include courses on human resources management, which explains how to build a positive company culture that facilitates growth. At Northeastern’s Online MBA program, students find this in the course, “Managing People and Operations,” where they learn how to use human resources to the benefit of the company.
4. How to succeed—and how to fail
MBA programs are often thought of as sandboxes or incubators, practice arenas where soon-to-be entrepreneurs can experiment, fail, adjust and try again. These trial runs provide students with countless important lessons. They’ll learn about their strategies and which aspects of those strategies aren’t sustainable. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, they’ll learn how to bounce back from failure. In an MBA program, making a mistake has far fewer repercussions than making a misstep in the real world of business, Forbes contributor Stella Garber pointed out.
5. How to sell your ideas
A good idea can be the impetus of a successful business. But if you don’t know how to share that idea with others and convince them of its greatness, that business may not go far. MBA students learn how to communicate in a convincing, engaging and professional manner, GMAT explained.
These skills go beyond pitching a new business idea; they’re also essential in proposing a new project, offering a new process or pitching a new product. In these cases, professionals may be speaking to leaders within the company that they already know, or to company stakeholders who already have a good understanding of the business. Just because the audience is familiar with a company and the presenter’s work, though, doesn’t mean they’ll support every one of his or her ideas; in these cases, the ability to sell your ideas is just as important as when presenting a new business plan.
6. How to take a risk
Some people are natural risk-takers. You might find these people skydiving, swimming with sharks or investing a large portion of their cash in a brand-new stock. Other people have trouble taking a chance for fear of the worst-case scenario.
Starting a business is a risk; there’s always a chance that something will go wrong and the company will fail. However, that doesn’t mean all entrepreneurs fall into the category of natural risk-takers. Greer points out that, while the enjoyment of taking a risk isn’t something that can be taught, the ability to analyze a risk and take it anyway, is.
An MBA program offers this ability to students. Throughout their studies, they’ll be presented with countless business cases, and they’ll learn which risks have historically succeeded, and which didn’t. They’ll learn how to understand the implications of the risks, consider the effects of a risk going bad (as well as a risk turning out wonderfully) and learn how to make a calculated and informed decision, GMAT explained.
7. How to adjust to the unexpected
Having a business plan is important when starting your company. But it’s important to understand that just because you have a plan, doesn’t mean things will go accordingly. More than likely, some aspect will change and you’ll have to find a way to adjust your plan. Aileron wrote in Forbes that back-up plans are a must, and it’s highly likely that you’ll need more than one.
MBA students learn quickly that contingency plans are just as important—if not more important—than the initial plan. If something outside of your control knocks your train off its tracks, the only way to keep momentum is to change direction quickly yet strategically.
Starting a business isn’t simple. Creating a successful company requires smart strategy, hard work and a fine understanding of the world of business. Learning these lessons on your own isn’t impossible, but it certainly isn’t quick or easy either. For this reason, many entrepreneurs find priceless benefit from obtaining their MBA.
• Graduate Programs at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business
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