I’m an Entrepreneur—Do I Really Need to Attend Business School?

I’m an Entrepreneur—Do I Really Need to Attend Business School?

Entrepreneurship is pretty straightforward, right? You come up with an awesome idea, locate some investors, and—after some behind-the-scenes sweat equity—become an inspiration to others as you smile and rake in the dough. Does that sum it up?

Primetime TV shows like “Shark Tank” and critically-acclaimed films like “The Social Network” that portray the seemingly overnight successes of college dropouts or regular Joes have led us to believe that starting a business is a walk in the park.

This leads many to believe that if you have a good idea, you’re well on your way to entrepreneurial success. Is that really all it takes?

The Truth about Entrepreneurship

Is launching and growing a successful business really as simple as it looks on TV? According to one study, across all industries, nearly half of new businesses fail within the first five years. Approximately 70 percent fail within the first 10 years, which means that an overwhelming majority of “great ideas” don’t lead to lasting success. Why?

Business experts at Entrepreneur examined the issue closely to determine why these businesses failed. They isolated seven reasons—all of which pertained to poor entrepreneurial decision-making and lack of general business knowledge. Had these business owners possessed better mentorship, more knowledge of what it takes to run, market, manage, and finance a business, they may have been in the group of entrepreneurs who found long-term success.

Business School: How It Helps

When examining the anatomy of the successful entrepreneur, researchers found that about 47 percent had advanced degrees, while 95.1 percent had earned at least a bachelor’s degree. These numbers contradict the idea that it doesn’t take higher education, namely business school, to succeed as an entrepreneur.

Media attention often lingers on cases like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs who led wildly successful companies without college degrees. We fail to notice the countless number of success stories of business school graduates, including Warren Buffet, who earned a Master of Science in Economics and has been outspoken on the value of an MBA.

Is an MBA (or any advanced business schooling) needed? B-school isn’t a requirement for success as an entrepreneur. However, it’s hard to deny the many benefits of receiving a business degree. Business school can provide the general and industry-specific knowledge that many entrepreneurs lack when they start their own businesses. Plus, it’s the perfect environment to test your ideas and build a network.

Top 4 Benefits of Business School

1. Advanced Knowledge

While a great product or business idea is a start, you’ll also need insight into various aspects of business, like operations, marketing, accounting—most of which are covered in the core curriculum of most business programs. Plus, real-life case reviews help you learn vicariously by analyzing the mistakes and accomplishments of entrepreneurs who’ve come before you. The best business schools also incorporate hands-on, practical experiences, so you can see what it’s like on the ground in some of the country’s leading corporations.

2. Idea Test-Driving

Before you make your mark on the world as an entrepreneur, business school can give you the necessary foundation to test-drive your ideas. Put your ideas to the test by submitting your business plan to competitions. See how your ideas measure up and get useful feedback to help you refine your business plan before putting it in front of investors.

3. Mentorship Opportunities

Aside from the practical skills you develop in business school, the environment is one that nurtures collaboration and creative thinking, facilitated by the expert faculty you’ll work with. In addition to one-on-one guidance from an entrepreneur advisor or professor, you can also take advantage of special mentorship programs, like the six-month executive-in-residence program offered in the California School of Management and Leadership MBA program.

4. Access to Vast Network

Business school gives you access to a comprehensive network of peers and alumni—many of the latter are leaders in the business world. You can also build your professional network by joining business or industry-specific organizations. You never know, your future co-founder, chief financial officer, or primary investor might be just a few seats away.

Having a great business idea is just the beginning. To find success as an entrepreneur, you also need general and industry-specific knowledge that enables you to effectively launch, market, and run your business. You can learn all that and more in one of the many business programs at Alliant International University.

Contact the California School of Management and Leadership to find out which program is right for you.