How better of an entrepreneur does an MBA make you

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In the past decade, entrepreneurship has emerged as a popular career choice among both students and working professionals. A survey revealed that 83% of the Indian workforce would like to become entrepreneurs, higher than the global average of 53%. Of this, 56% people were considering quitting their current jobs to start their own business ventures. In another survey, it was found that more than 60% Indian youth believe that entrepreneurship is their calling for good livelihood prospects and would like to study it during their academic years.

There are several reasons why entrepreneurship is gaining momentum in India.

* The rise of the Indian startup ecosystem, which is currently third-largest on the global index with 50,000 registered startups, has created a new wave of opportunities that aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs want to leverage.

* The Indian Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector comprising approximately 30 million units has also fuelled the passion for entrepreneurship.

* India is home to 111 family-owned businesses, third-highest in the world after the US and China – there is a section of the millennial generation who are ready to take the reins of their family businesses and carry forward the legacy as successor entrepreneurs.

These statistics indeed portray an optimistic future of entrepreneurship as a career in India. However, the entrepreneurial activity is still lagging behind its true potential. Only 5% of Indians establish their own business, among the lowest rates on the global platform. On the other side of the spectrum, business discontinuation rate is among the highest in the world at 26.4%.

Now, while there are umpteen reasons why people don’t venture into entrepreneurship or fail in their businesses, a key reason is lack of business skills. There is no doubt that some skills are learnt on the job, but a strong pre-foundation in these skills can yield better learning outcomes. It can also eliminate the fear and risk of failures which is the biggest concern of 71% young entrepreneurship aspirants in launching their own business.

MBA Can Provide Solid Foundation for Entrepreneurship

MBA degree is not a mandatory requirement or eligibility for entrepreneurship, but it does offer valuable business knowledge, skills and insights to mitigate failures and augment the likelihood of success.

Let’s understand how an MBA can make you a better entrepreneur:

* Provides Business Management Education

The entire curriculum of MBA is focused on imparting knowledge related to marketing, human resources, finance, operations, strategy and all other functions that are required to run a business. A number of B-schools have also begun to offer niche electives and specializations in the upcoming entrepreneurial fields like technology, agriculture, healthcare, telecom, energy, etc. to provide domain-intensive skills. In fact, some B-schools also have dedicated programs or subjects on entrepreneurship. An academic background in business management can come handy in running their own business.

* Aids in Soft Skill Development

An MBA student requires you to participate actively in projects, case studies, presentations, internship, group work, role plays, mock situations and many other hands-on modules to apply theoretical concepts to practical experience. This leads to the development of soft skills such as communication, leadership, decision-making, collaboration, analytical thinking, time management and problem-solving which are hallmarks of successful entrepreneurs.

* Builds Professional Network

During MBA, you form connections with fellow classmates, alumni, faculty, industry experts and many other people from different walks of life. These connections build a pool of potential co-founders, employees, investors, mentors or customers when you become an entrepreneur. Since you have already known or worked with people during the MBA program, you can reduce considerable time in building the right teams or getting access to resources when you become an entrepreneur.

* Acts as the Incubator for Entrepreneurship Ideas

Many B-schools make conscious efforts to promote a culture of entrepreneurship on campus by setting up of startup or innovation labs, conducting startup pitch competitions, inviting startup community for talks and undertaking many other academic initiatives. This, in turn, provides you with a safe and conducive environment to hone or refine your business ideas or models with the help of on-campus expertise and guidance.

* Gives Credibility to Your Resume

MBA is a very demanding program. You are expected to undergo a rigorous academic schedule that tests your intellectual and emotional calibre. You need to juggle several things together and learn to go beyond your comfort zone. Entrepreneurship is no different – it is a challenging career where you have to wear several hats like a pro. MBA not only prepares you for the responsibilities and challenges of entrepreneurship, but it gives credibility to mentors and investors that you have it in you to make your mark as an entrepreneur.

MBA should be seen as the stepping stone to entrepreneurship. It gives you the knowledge, skills and most importantly, confidence to become an entrepreneur.

(Author Prof Dr Biju G Pillai is Senior Director- IT and admissions, Sri Balaji University, Pune. Views expressed here are personal.)

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