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5 Things An MBA Will Teach You About Entrepreneurship

Succeeding as an entrepreneur is always a challenge. MBA programs can impart some vital wisdom and improve your chances of success


Thu Sep 26 2019


It’s a much-cited fact that 90% of new startups fail within a year. 

With statistics like these, today’s entrepreneurs need all the help they can get when it comes to navigating the startup scene. Many choose to hone their skills at business school.

Entrepreneurial know-how is being taught on MBA programs around the world, including the Beijing International MBA (BiMBA) at Peking University and UCL.

Through the program, students have the chance to hone their entrepreneurial abilities through modules such as ‘Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Europe’, taught at UCL’s London campus.

Programs like these can give students the boost they need to set out on ventures of their own.

Here are five lessons an MBA can teach you about being an entrepreneur.

1. Resilience 

For Allen Wang, a student on the BiMBA program, recovering from setbacks is the most important skill an MBA can impart.

Allen is in the process of founding a recruitment startup, hoping to disrupt the industry with standardized video resumés.  

“You need a lot of resilience when you’re facing the challenges of entrepreneurship,” he says.

With the diverse array of modules on offer, the BiMBA program is helping Allen to overcome challenges in a variety of areas. 

“Peking University and UCL seemed like the right combination to choose,” he says. 

Allen’s BiMBA experience has helped him take an analytical approach to overcoming setbacks. 

“It’s helped me concretize my logical thinking,” he explains, “working out how to do things step by step.”

2. Networking

Networking is vital in almost any job, but startup owners are especially reliant on the skill for their success.

One survey of 1,000 entrepreneurs found that networking is crucial to success for 78% of startups.

For Yulanda Fengsu, another BiMBA student, learning how to network was a key motivation for enrolling in the program.

Yulanda plans to build an ecommerce platform for her family’s seafood business, and believes her BiMBA network will support this goal. 

“That’s why I chose to study an MBA,” she explains, “I want to build relationships, and I need a network of skilled people.”

During the BiMBA program, Yulanda and her peers were able to network not just with each other, but also with representatives from a variety of companies. This included HSBC, True, and L&G.

Allen agrees that the program has given his network a real boost. 

“I’m trying to collect resources,” he says, “and BiMBA has been really helpful in putting me in touch with people who might like to join my industry.” 

3. Calculated Risk-Taking

For would-be entrepreneurs, knowing which risks to take, and which to avoid, is crucial.

For Qiung Jiang, another BiMBA student, learning how to spot an opportunity has been a highlight of the program. 

Qiung hopes to form a fintech credit assessment company with a few cohort peers in the future, bolstered by what he has learned on the program.

During the BiMBA’s Decision Making and Analytics module, for instance, participants learn how to work with big data—an increasingly sought-after skill that can open up ample opportunities for entrepreneurs.

“We learned an entrepreneur should be smart enough to seize the right opportunity,” Qiung explains. “You need to make good judgements and decisions.”

The ability to take calculated risks is surprisingly rare among startups. A 2012 study found that just 17% of executives have a formal risk-evaluation process in place. 

Through an MBA, future startup owners can learn practical risk management skills, from market research to due diligence.

4. Creative Thinking

MBAs are built on a broad rather than specialized curriculum, ensuring that students learn ‘soft’ skills along with their technical counterparts. 

One of these skills is creative thinking. 

During the ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Europe’ module at UCL, BiMBA students are taught to recognize opportunities for innovation within large companies, as well as the market at large.

This ensures they are able to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset when they graduate.

5. Complex Problem Solving

Solving challenging problems is a useful approach for entrepreneurs to take when carving out their niche in a crowded market.

In fact, 42% of failed startups fold due to a lack of market need. 

For Allen, the BiMBA program provided some concrete examples of how businesses find their niche.

During the MBA’s ‘Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Europe’ module, for example, students have the chance to visit designer outlet, Vista Village, to learn about the organization’s unique operating model. 

With the problem-solving skills this imparts, graduates leave the program with an effective toolkit for tackling the challenges that inevitably come with a new venture.  

Working through an MBA also allows students to practice working to tight deadlines, and with limited resources, closely mimicking the problem-solving environment that an early-phase startup entails.