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I Want To Start My Own Business—Should I Do An MBA?

Serial admissions director, Barbara Coward, answers our applicant question of the week

Thu Aug 16 2018

Roll up! Roll up! It’s the BusinessBecause Applicant Question of the Week.

Every week, we give you the opportunity to ask one of our chosen admissions experts anything you want to know about getting into business school. One question each week is chosen for our expert to answer.

This week’s chosen question comes from 26-year-old Angel Maria Artero y Torregrosa (pictured below), who’s considering leaving Spain for an MBA experience in the US.

His question is answered by Barbara Coward, an expert MBA admissions consultant who's worked in admissions departments at Johns Hopkins University; Loyola University, Maryland; and the University of Bath.

Applicant Question of the Week:

Hi BusinessBecause,

I’m a young lawyer and financial advisor (26 years) from Spain, but right now I’m stuck in my career because I wish to start a new business-like enterprise or startup.

Do you think I should do an MBA right now in my career? 


The Answer:

You’re asking an excellent question about how you know when it’s the best time to pursue an MBA. While it would be nice to have a crystal ball and the benefit of hindsight, it boils down to making a decision with the best information you have at the time.

I’m struck, in particular, by your statement that you feel stuck in your career right now. To me, that’s telling in terms of your readiness. There comes a time in your career when you start seeing signals that you aren’t happy with the status quo.

It sounds to me like you are at that stage. You have a clear career objective. In addition, I suspect that the combination of your legal skills and financial acumen has given you a bigger appetite for business.

At the same time, I would suggest you proceed carefully. The desire to start your own business is certainly appealing but fewer MBA graduates than you may realize go straight from their studies to the startup world. In fact, the most recent GMAC Alumni Perspectives Survey reveals that only one-in-10 business school alumni are entrepreneurs, although the rate of entrepreneurship does increase in the years following graduation. 

I would encourage you to think about what is most attractive about entrepreneurship and whether there are other career opportunities that would be equally fulfilling. For example, the report indicates that students see self-employment as the best avenue for their ideas. Could you achieve the same objective with a post-MBA career in management consulting? Perhaps you would be in an even stronger position to start your own business after challenging and stimulating assignments at a world-class consulting firm.

Whether self-employment comes sooner or later, I suggest considering programs business schools that are best known for entrepreneurship such as Babson in the US and HEC Paris in Europe.

That said, entrepreneurship is such a popular subject matter for students that it’s hard to find any top program that doesn’t offer a concentration or specialization in entrepreneurship. I also recommend looking into the Creative Destruction Lab at Rotman in Canada. (After graduation, international MBA students at Rotman, and other Canadian business schools, are eligible for a three-year Canadian work permit.)

There’s a lot to think about, for sure, including your preferred study location, program size, and campus culture. It seems that you are at the cusp of taking the next steps to begin this exciting journey.

There’s no shortage of options and that alone can make it feel overwhelming. So, you’ll want to start your research and put together a manageable short list of priority programs. Sign up for emails for your targeted schools, attend recruitment fairs for one-stop shopping, and participate in virtual information sessions to get your questions answered.

You’ll quickly start to get a feel for your preferred programs and then campus visits can crystallize your choices. Go for it!

Ask an Admissions Expert a Question


Next week, we’re giving you the chance ask Virginie Fougea, director of MBA recruitment and admissions at INSEAD, anything you want to know about getting into business school.

Virginie has worked in admissions at INSEAD for over 20 years, so if there’s anybody who knows the secret to a successful business school application it’s her!

To ask Virginie a question, head to our Twitter and Facebook pages or post in the comments box below!