It’s undeniably the sexiest option, but is it really a good idea to become an entrepreneur immediately after your MBA? Today, Angela Guido is joined by Career Protocol’s career expert Aziz, who jumped right into entrepreneurship with his MBA. They get to the bottom of who entrepreneurship is for, whether entrepreneurs need an MBA and how an MBA can help in entrepreneurship if you decide to throw caution to the wind and go for it anyway.
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Table of Contents
Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:
A Post-MBA Career In Entrepreneurship: What Are Your Options?
“Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. It's the sexiest thing to do now.”
You may have heard that it's the best possible MBA goal. Even if you haven't heard that, you've probably thought that it would be very sexy. Gosh, wouldn't it be cool to be an entrepreneur? And there are a ton of people who think that the MBA is the direct pathway to being a successful entrepreneur. Today, I have with me Aziz Lalljee, Senior Instructor at Career Protocol, our Chief Career Officer, and someone who went right into entrepreneurship after business school. He's here to answer all of our questions about entrepreneurship as part of your post-MBA career path.
Aziz: Hello, Angela and hello, all of you. I'm Aziz, I'm a Career Coach, an Entrepreneur, and a Senior Instructor at Career Protocol.
Angela: Our first question for you today is this: Should we or shouldn't we? Should you go right into entrepreneurship immediately post-MBA?
Aziz: No. For almost everyone, in almost every circumstance, it's a clear no, in my humble opinion. Now, I speak as someone who actually did this and struggled through it, learned from it, and had some success and a lot of failure. But I also talk as somebody who's distilled all these learnings into my job as a Career Coach. So here's why becoming an entrepreneur straight after business school is probably a fraught and ill-advised idea. First of all, it's the hardest, riskiest way to actually make a good, predictable living straight out of business school. The financial, mental and personal consequences of failure are severe. Now, the more educated you are, the higher the capital investment you've made in yourself. And so the larger the opportunity cost of not pursuing the conventional career, especially if you're graduating with loans. And even more so if you're possibly interested in a transferable career like Consulting, straight out of business school, which you can't really do at another point in your life, unless you're a lateral expert hire many years later.
Angela: Yeah, but come on Aziz. No? Like just flat out, no? Really? No one should go into entrepreneurship post-MBA? I mean, there have to be exceptions, right?
Aziz: Yes, there are two reasons why you might want to become an entrepreneur straight out of business school. The first is you need to solve a problem right now that isn't resolved to your satisfaction by anyone anywhere. You wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat because this problem exists in the world and you can't work for, or partner with, or invest in anyone who's trying to solve it. And so, you need to do it now. Secondly, you're just congenitally unable to hold down a nine-to-five job, guilty as charged, but you're otherwise smart and driven. And so the best application of your spirit and your skills, might be in an entrepreneurial role right now.
Angela: Aziz, what advice do you have for people who fall into one of those two categories right now? Is there anything that they can do pre-MBA to set themselves up for greater success?
Aziz: I think you should start your company. Or at least start working on your idea. Because there is no substitute for actually going out and doing it and learning for yourself how lonely, how terrifying, how angst-ridden the life of an entrepreneur is. And it may seem sexy on the outside, but it's not on the inside. And so actually, see, test the hypothesis that the problem you want to solve is actually worth solving, and you're willing to go through great pains to solve it.
Angela: You keep talking about problems, but I don't think most people approach entrepreneurship as a form of problem solving. I think for most people, it's like I want to create something. I want to be in charge. I want to bring something into the world. Just say more about what you mean by solving a problem.
Aziz: Well, I want to create something, and I want to be in charge is sort of ego-driven. And I personally don't believe success comes from following your ego, it comes from serving. And so, if you want to be in charge, it's a bit like a megalomaniacal politician. So that may be a better career route for you. But if you want to solve a problem, if you want to help people and you're actually motivated by people's lives and making them better, few people achieve greater impact than entrepreneurs in that rate.
Angela: Great. Terrifying, terrifying words from our Chief Career Officer. So, let's say you've successfully talked us out of going into entrepreneurship immediately post-MBA. How can entrepreneurship still be a part of the career path, even if it's not the right step immediately post-MBA?
Aziz: So setting up your own shingle 10, 15, 20 years after your MBA is a wonderful idea, and is a very well-trod paths to success. At that point. You've developed real expertise, some capital, and real networks in a specific vertical. And now you're setting up your own shop, but you're likely selling a known product or service, to a known audience based on incremental innovation, branding, your focus, and your approach. And that is a fundamentally different risk reward profile from being, quote, a young entrepreneur.
Angel: Any last kind and encouraging words for all those future entrepreneurs out there watching us today?
Aziz: We make the world go around. And if you become an entrepreneur and never achieve success in your life, but you've tried every day with the right heart, in the right spirit. You've lived a powerful life. You've actually, in the words of William Faulkner, tried to create something out of the materials of the human spirit that never existed before. And to me, that’s the highest calling in life.
Angela: On behalf of all MBA Monday viewers, thank you so much Aziz. That was awesome. If you enjoyed Aziz's advice, I found it inspiring. Please leave him an encouraging comment, and we'll see you next week on #MBAMonday.