More entrepreneurs turning to an MBA

The entrepreneurs of tomorrow are increasingly turning to business schools and MBA programs to hone their skills and networks, according to research by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC).

The odds of succeeding as an entrepreneur can be steep, but business schools teach the skills that can help entrepreneurs make sound decisions and avoid expensive mistakes.

“I meet a lot of entrepreneurs who have great ideas and even great businesses, but they don’t know how to take them to the next level. They don’t understand how to go out and get capital or find investors because they don’t quite understand how it works,” said Brooks Dame, CEO of Proof Eyewear, a 2006 MBA and finalist for Entrepreneur Magazine’s Emerging Entrepreneur of 2012.

130804 gmac entrepreneurs“Building a solid background at a good business school is a great way to expand your opportunities, come up with new ideas, and really take your business to the next level.”

The GMAC survey showed a growing number of those taking the GMAT exam intended to concentrate on entrepreneurship.

Out of nearly 226,000 GMAT exams taken in 2012 in which test takers selected an intended concentration, more than 12,000 indicated Entrepreneurship. That’s up 10 percent from five years ago and 5 percent of all those selecting a concentration when they take the GMAT exam, the worldwide entrance test for graduate management study.

GMAC asked the aspiring entrepreneurs why they wanted to pursue a graduate management degree, with some interesting answers.

  • Increase my entrepreneurial opportunities: 70 percent
  • Develop general business skills: 69 percent
  • Develop leadership skills: 64 percent
  • Develop skills to manage my business: 62 percent
  • Increase opportunities for challenging/interesting work: 56 percent
  • Personal satisfaction/achievement: 55 percent
  • Greater freedom in job/career choice: 53 percent

Some of those considering an MBA already have experience in being entrepreneurs with 1-in-20 graduating business school students worldwide in 2012 planned to be self-employed. Among them:

  • 39 percent owned a business before school and expect to continue after graduation.
  • 27 percent started a business while in school and expect to continue after graduation.
  • 34 percent plan to start a business after graduation.

Some 94 percent of graduating students said passion, or doing what they enjoy, motivated them to start their business. Other factors like autonomy (89 percent); flexibility (84 percent); and control (83 percent) were key reasons graduating students cited for being self-employed.


Ben Ready
Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (