I remember two and a half years ago, walking across the stage at St. John’s to receive my diploma in liberal arts. And then 2 years later I ended up at W.P. Carey School of Business at the #1 innovative school in the USA, Arizona State University. Why did I choose this path?
Upon graduation, the entrepreneurial itch came back in full force. I was not yet reconciled to the world and I decided to sit down and investigate my relationship to money, the world, and my relationship to starting up. In the meantime, I was working at a real estate non-profit organization making an impact in my community, then I went to work for a locally owned bank again one that was making a difference in the local Santa Fe community. My desire was to start something that would make an impact, and it still is.
So, I went ahead and tried my hand at entrepreneurship and it led me to get an MBA. The following are my top 3 reasons for choosing this path.
It can be tough to start up without knowing people in your industry or without the right human capital in your network. Many times, creating a new product takes pro-bono work from oneself and others in that person’s network. It can take months of coding, ideation, testing, and refining of a product, idea, software etc. And all this would be tough to fund unless you have a bucket of gold you found at the end of a rainbow.
Without that, having a strong network of people you know, who know other people you don’t know is quite helpful. Getting my MBA allows me to find people who can help your startup begin, grow, and establish itself. More importantly, if your goal is to make an impact as mine is, then you get to know people who are making waves, and you get to be their network and help them startup and grow.
A network is wonderful in how it helps fulfill the itch we all have. The itch to connect. Beyond making the world a better place, it’s always wonderful to share the fruits of the activities that make an impact or share the activities themselves. And an MBA is just the place to get to know people. Your network immediately expands upon arrival. Your very classmates are your future network – the more the merrier. And your network keeps on growing as info sessions come up, company sponsored events etc. All the while you learn how to build relationships and how not to do it, without worrying how it will impact your business…not yet.
2. Exit strategy
I have been told by one experienced strategist to have a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C. Then think of a Plan Z where if all else fails you are assured of success and you will exit. I always have a plan Z. My exit strategy as an entrepreneur is to get a wonderful job.
I know what I am passionate about.
I know which companies I would love to add value to.
And I would like to start my own business.
I am making efforts – even with my tight schedule – to work on a startup so I can apply lessons from MBA classes as I learn them. On the other hand, I am sure that if all else fails, I can get an excellent job, with a company that does what I am passionate about.
It is almost like jumping off a cliff with a safety net beneath you…you can only hope that the fall isn’t too long. There is everything to gain and nothing to lose. One could say time is lost and I have accounted for that in my last reason below
3. To learn
This may be obvious but yes, I decided to get my MBA to learn.
I remember a friend of mine who bought a business in New Mexico. He said his biggest regret was how he bought the business. He learned later that he could have avoided a certain huge levy had he structured the purchase differently. That lack of knowledge cost him many zeroes, and so he paid for that education. And that is what I mean by learning. Gaining the basic knowledge of the foundations of what and how a business lives and breathes as a separate legal entity.
I am confident that one can get an MBA in 7-10 years of real-world business without going through a formal education. Yet the challenge is that some of the mistakes one makes along the way would be avoidable had they learned all about them the first 2 of those 10years. And that some of the problems they will face have already been solved by others in a manner that is studied in an MBA program.
As I searched for a business partner, I quickly realized how tough it was to pick someone. I quickly realized it was almost like hiring but I knew nothing about Human Resources or Human Behavior in their capacity as employees. Further, there were some legal and financial aspects of which I wasn’t sure. A lawyer or CPA would have clarified it all for me, I did not have the money to pay them. An MBA student would have known what to do but I did not know any MBA students. So, I decided to become one.
Life is a misery to be endured until we die. Even those with terminal illnesses find times of respite and laugh and enjoy their lives. So too is mortality a terminal illness. We will all die, I for one am glad this is so. But before that day I will define myself, I will not go without giving everything I have got, and I will love with all my heart.
I am proud to be an Afropolitan; a world citizen of African descend. I am called Allen and I love writing, eating, and singing in the shower!
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