Starting a Business in Late Career: How an MBA May Help

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Mohamed Youssef standing outside Northeastern University’s Boston campus.

Career paths are interesting things; many people find the path they begin early on in adulthood isn’t the path they want to follow all the way to retirement. Experts cite figures such as the average working adult changes careers three to seven times—but this is a little bit misleading, The Balance explained, because the concept of a “career change” is pretty vague.

However, one thing is clear: Few people stay in the same position, or with the same company, for their entire careers. For plenty of people, career paths are long and winding, with many detours and side-paths along the way. Some find that these journeys lead them to something highly rewarding and lucrative: entrepreneurship.

Starting a business after you’ve already spent a few years or decades following a different career path can be a satisfying journey. Forbes contributor George Deeb observed that several studies point to people who begin their businesses later in life have a higher chance of success than their younger counterparts. In fact, entrepreneurs who launch their companies after age 55 are twice as likely to begin a high-growth startup as those who begin their ventures before their 35th birthday.

Although age isn’t the only factor that goes into the creation of a successful business, it can give you a valuable advantage over the younger crowd hoping to implement the next Facebook or Google.

An MBA can help you get ahead

While an MBA isn’t required to start a business, it can certainly assist in getting it running and helping it scale. A high-quality Master of Business Administration program, such as that offered through Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business, can provide students with valuable knowledge, skills and resources necessary to build a successful company.

Learn how to manage a growing company

An important part of any business is smooth growth. Starting a company with a small team of closely knit peers is one thing, but scaling—hiring new employees, expanding offices, bringing on new clients and adding products or services—is another thing altogether. It’s a challenge that many entrepreneurs struggle with, and one that an MBA can be incredibly useful for, BBC News explained.

A course such as “Enterprise Growth and Innovation” at Northeastern University, for example, will show budding entrepreneurs how other corporations grew their businesses by offering competitive products or services to their audience. Meanwhile, the course “Business Turnarounds” at Northeastern University explores how leadership can help turn a troubled company around by determining the problem, devising a solution and, finally, executing that strategy.

Connect with like-minded people

Another benefit that can come from business school isn’t in the form of classes but rather classmates. Many business students have entrepreneurship on their minds. Meeting someone through a class project, a networking event or a course residency trip that has similar business goals as you may be the impetus of beginning your dream company.

Meeting someone in your program who you can begin your business with has the advantage of allowing you to work together in a learning environment, The Muse pointed out. You’ll not only learn how to begin and manage a business, but you’ll also learn how these goals can be accomplished as a team—a valuable lesson to any future partnership.

What getting a mid- to late-career MBA is like

For many people, earning an MBA is a step in a larger journey of pursuing a higher position or salary. This may help the typical MBA student—who, at Northeastern’s Online MBA program, is 25 years old or older and has 5 or more years of work experience—reach these goals. But for people who are further along in their careers, earning the MBA likely won’t advance their salaries or career prospects by much, the Chicago Tribune pointed out.

Instead, the option to earn an MBA later in your career is more about the knowledge and resources available through the program and a personal desire to achieve the distinction. The Tribune reported that 93 percent of MBA graduates found their business school experience to be personally rewarding. However, among graduates who are in their 40s or older, that figure increases to 95 percent.

Age could be an entrepreneurial advantage

While youngsters who take a risk to go out on their own and become highly successful tend to make the headlines, these stories aren’t necessarily the norm. In fact, there are plenty of advantages of starting a business well past your 20s.

The Balance noted that life experience alone can be a huge benefit. When you’ve had years of experience managing multiple career and life goals, you know how to plan long-term objectives. When you’ve had a chance to fail, you know how to rebound. When you’ve had years to discover what you’re passionate about, you can approach your business idea with confidence and conviction. Each of these factors can help your business start out in the right direction.

There are certain characteristics of getting older than can also work to your advantage. When you’ve been working and networking for several decades longer than your younger counterparts, you’re more likely to have friends, acquaintances or co-workers who are experts in things you’re not—like law, marketing, accounting, real estate or contracting. Each of these are important for any emerging business, and it’s always to your advantage to know people who are experts in these fields.

Another part of getting older is expanding your knowledge base. At age 50, for example, you know much more than you did at 30. This is a simple fact of growing older, but should not be overlooked as a highly valuable asset, The Balance noted.

Some investors might be more willing to trust their money with entrepreneurs who’ve been around the block a time or two as well. Everyone is going to experience failure at some point or another, and investors know this. But, odds are someone who has little work or life experience still has his or her biggest failure ahead of them. Someone who’s made mistakes already may be better prepared to handle misfortune or unanticipated roadblocks, and could therefore be considered a safer investment.

Additionally, investors tend to believe that someone who has failed before can weather the blunder more successfully than someone who hasn’t yet experienced major failure. Plus, someone who’s been in this sort of unfortunate situation will be less afraid of failure, and therefore more willing to make a decision and take a worthwhile chance. These characteristics are positives in the eyes of many investors.

An Online MBA program can help entrepreneurs find success

Business school comes with a plethora of advantages to someone who’s seeking to open a business. For working men or women, an Online MBA program can be ideal because it allows them to study and learn while maintaining a balance with family, career or other responsibilities or goals. To learn more about how Northeastern University’s Online MBA program can help you achieve your career goals, reach out to an enrollment advisor.


Recommended Readings:

What to know about Northeastern’s Online MBA

6 things you can learn while getting an MBA


Northeastern University’s Online MBA Program