Entrepreneur or employee?

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MBA student contemplating entrepreneur vs. employee career paths.

When business professionals graduate with their Master of Business Administration, they may begin to debate the entrepreneur vs. employee career path. There are personal characteristics and aspirations that lead some MBA professionals to start their own businesses, while others use their skills to drive existing companies into the future.

Here’s a look at both career paths, and how earning an Online MBA at Northeastern’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business can prepare graduates for either avenue.

Taking the entrepreneurship career path

Startup founders, CEOs, and small business owners often assume the title of entrepreneur. They’re enthusiastic, innovative, and known for taking risks in the business world. Being an entrepreneur comes with the flexibility of running the operations, but also means that consistent paychecks and regular working hours are not always a reality. These business professionals also tend to stray from a traditional work-life balance, willing to make sacrifices to create a profitable venture.

While many assume entrepreneur is simply synonymous with being a business owner, the right mindset and perseverance are the more telling signs of entrepreneurial success.

Common characteristics of successful entrepreneurs

The most successful entrepreneurs have business acumen, but they also have the right personality and attitude to fill the role. The essential characteristics of effective entrepreneurs include:

Passionate about the work
Most entrepreneurs will tell aspiring business professionals that entrepreneurship starts with an idea. Bringing that idea to fruition requires passion and motivation to put in the necessary work. That energy also translates to a dedication to continually improve the business, product, or service created, working tirelessly to achieve results and exceed expectations.

Forward-thinking mindset
Entrepreneurs are always thinking ahead, setting the goals that lead them toward a successful future. This goal-oriented mindset helps them shape their vision and turn it into profitable reality.

Commitment to lifelong learning
Savvy entrepreneurs know they must keep their ideas, knowledge, tools, and techniques fresh to stay relevant in ever-changing markets. With a continued commitment to learning, they can be flexible, resilient, and effective business leaders. Along with gaining the right experience and building a diverse network, many business professionals with this mindset will pursue entrepreneurship-centered courses to improve their skills and prepare for self-led business ventures.

The right characteristics combined with an entrepreneurial spirit push these professionals to take risks and lead innovation in all areas of business.

Taking the employee career path

While entrepreneurs focus on the success of their own ideas, employees work for organizations where they can contribute to company-wide results. The stakes are often high and the opportunities for growth can be limitless, as these employees are the savvy business professionals who lead teams to success and help organizational goals become realities.

Depending on their position, employees often have a set schedule and maintain more balance between their professional and personal lives. High-performing employees who consistently deliver quality work tend to grow within the company and reach new heights by following the leadership track. They are able to apply their business acumen and leadership skills to help their teams achieve companywide goals.

Common characteristics of a good employee

Motivated by the overall company mission, employees contribute their skills and expertise to help their organization fulfill its purpose. Successful employees often display traits such as:

Organizational skills
Successful employees understand how to prioritize their tasks and manage all of their responsibilities so that projects run smoothly and time is spent effectively and efficiently. When working in leadership roles, organized employees can deliver clear instructions and relevant support to their teams.

Adaptability
It’s important for employees to embrace rather than resist change. Employees who can easily adjust to new hires, refreshed processes, and new tools have higher chances of succeeding in the workplace. Certain positions also require the flexibility to work with people in different time zones, adopt new technology, and take on unexpected responsibilities.

Strong work ethic
The ideal employees are hard workers who drive and deliver results, implement effective strategies, and spearhead process improvements to keep the company moving forward. They always complete high-quality work and take ownership for both successes and failures.

Employees can fill positions at various levels across several industries, working their way up to senior and executive roles. Additionally, they can take advantage of the opportunities offered by their current employer, or choose to apply their skills in a position at a different company. This creates endless opportunities for learning and growth.

Choosing the right career path

MBA graduates should consider their personal traits as well as professional aspirations when deciding between the two career paths.

While there are distinct character differences between entrepreneurs and employees, business professionals can easily choose to pursue both roles with success during their career. Some may choose the employee path to start, knowing that their end goal is to lead their own company as a successful entrepreneur. Others may pursue entrepreneurship from the beginning, and later share their expertise and skills from the experience as an employee.

Career development at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business

Designed to unlock new opportunities, knowledge, and abilities for seasoned business professionals, the Online MBA program at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business can prepare both entrepreneurs and employees for professional success.

Employers recognize that prospects with an advanced business degree have the enhanced knowledge and skills necessary to add great value to their teams. Students can choose to further refine their knowledge with a concentration, displaying a considerable passion or interest in a particular area and qualifying them for more niche positions. The concentrations available at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business include:

● Finance
● Healthcare Management
● High Technology Management
● Innovation Entrepreneurship
● International Management
● Marketing
● Supply Chain Management
● Sustainability

Students interested in establishing their own ventures are especially drawn to the Innovation Entrepreneurship concentration, which covers topics such as concept development and testing, small business venture operations management, planning, financing, sustainable development, and creating value in emerging economies.

For students to earn an Online MBA in Innovation Entrepreneurship, three of the five electives must be from the following concentration-specific courses:

● Managing Operations in Early Stage Ventures
● Entrepreneurship: Services and Retail Business Creation
● New Venture Creation
● Global Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation
● Entrepreneurial Finance for High Tech Companies
● New Product Development

Students who graduate with an Online MBA in Innovation Entrepreneurship may start their own companies but can also pursue a variety of high-level employment positions like chief technology officer, product development director, and business development director, or grow within a corporate environment.

Those who begin the program undecided on their desired career path may find that the curriculum and interaction with peers and professors can help clarify their direction. Plus, the flexibility of online learning allows students to continue working in the field while pursuing their degree. Gaining such experience as a student and employee further helps business professionals determine if they’re best suited to keep climbing the ranks within a company or pursue their own endeavor.

Schedule an appointment with an enrollment advisor here to learn more about how the Online MBA program at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business can facilitate career opportunities for you.

Recommended Readings:
Starting a business later in your career: Tips to try and how an MBA may help

How to develop a new product, and where an MBA fits in

Sources:
10 Essential Characteristics of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs by Inc.

Are You an Entrepreneur or an Employee? by Entrepreneur

Employees Vs. Entrepreneurs by Chron

15 Qualities of the Perfect Employee by Inc.

Online MBA by Northeastern University D’Amore-McKim School of Business