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34 / self employed / thinking about MBA... Thoughts? Is it worth it really?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Background:

 

- 34 years old.

 

- graduated in 2000 with a marketing major / personal communication minor

 

- 5 years exp at a very popular Internet company where I got in early (employee #133 out of now 3000+) so I trained and managed CS / sales teams, turned their refund department into a profit center, oversaw 3 software development teams and practically learned everything I needed to know to run my own business.

- Past 6 years spent running a small online store.  Making more than at my old job but definitely not driving a Ferrari (not that I would want one).  Business has plataeu'd and I'm trying to build it further but I am not sure I see this particular project running for another 5 years.  I have 2 other projects in the pipeline with a goal of creating multiple streams of automated income.  Not talking about MLM or Pyramid schemes. 

 

I have had a feeling in the back of my mind that I should get an MBA to help organize all the knowledge I've gained in the past 12 years and to act as a VIP pass to bigger jobs.  I want the stability of a career again while I run my online businesses on the side.  My little brother is an orthopedic surgeon so there is a tremendous contrast between our two lives and I respect the long view in his career stability.

 

I'm thinking about Insead, Thunderbird, or some other higher reputation school.  My problem is that I have a hard time going into debt, parting ways with $100k, sinking so much time into getting school and networking when I could prob spend the time/money into building more businesses.

 

In the next 5 years, if I get an MBA, I want a VP level job making $250k+ a year and unless that happens, I'm just not sure it is worth it...

 

For those of you who got an MBA, did you run your own business before? 

 

If you were already running your own business, would you get an MBA?

 

Did getting an MBA help you run your business better?

 

Thanks in advance SF!

 

All advice is welcome.

post #2 of 19
Thread Starter 

whoa guys, don't you all chime in at once... lol

post #3 of 19
I don't have any personal experience in this, just second hand information. My father has his MBA and told me it was mostly common sense. He got his for a similar reason, as a prerequisite for a salary in the future.

If it were me, i'd put my money in my business and get them to grow.
post #4 of 19
I don't know your situation that well, but if you've got something good going, don't sell out to become just another employee of a large company. As long as you're making good money while on your own venture, I don't see why you wouldn't keep trying.
post #5 of 19
Unless you can get into Wharton, Kellogg or Kennedy or something equivalent it's probably not worth it in my opinion (for the record I don't have an MBA). I know quite a few people that have them, and they don't hold much water unless you are already in the “club”. One of my buddies has an MBA from a semi-respected Div 1 school and after I saw the trash that they pushed through with him, I instantly knew that it wasn't all it is cracked up to be. Some of the MBA's that graduated with him were pretty close to ESL high school students that could do a bit of math. Many schools these days are just using it as a revenue source. Another buddy of mine is getting an MBA from Cox (SMU) right now and it's a good program, but it's more or less a "networking club" with a 100K entrance fee.

Yes big companies that have CYA policies and lots of red tape still like hiring them, but if you have an "entrepreneurial mindset" any company that is going to hire you just because you have an MBA is going to be an ass whipping anyway. Not to mention I wouldn't want to work 60 hour minimum weeks, have to deal with a bunch of insolent employees, and then be at the top of the layoff list because of your “elevated” salary.

From what I've seen recently 250k middle management jobs are really hard to come by (at least in Texas). There are 150K jobs to be found, but if you want to make 250k, you might as well, A.) keep starting businesses, or B.) Sell your soul and go ahead and go to law school (but making partner when you get out at 37 would be tough also)

If you can’t deal with the ups and downs of sole prop, and can’t diversify your income streams, if it was me, I'd figure out what kind of "VP" job I wanted and I would start playing “the game”. Save your 100k, start networking your ass off, (like 20+ hours a week), figure out what the "expertise" of the industry of the type of VP you want to be really requires and then learn it on your own. If you want to be an operations guy do you really think learning “Internet Marketing” and “Social Media” from some professor that lives in “academic” land is going to help you? Some 20 year old without a degree will come up with something new that makes what you learn in his/her class irrelevant before that class is even over. That time/money would be put to better use by getting a CPIM or CSPC certification that actually holds some weight with “Operations” people.

If you spend 20 hours a week networking and 10+ hours a week studying on your own, in three years you can find someone to hire you and give you the title of “VP”. The owner of the company that will hire you in 3 years might have a small business right now, but if you get to know him now, and his business grows enough and he needs a VP do you think he’ll hire you that he’s known for 3 years or the kid just out of school with an MBA? Half of the battle in getting VP level jobs is getting the first one, not as exclusive as the CEO club, but half the battle is getting a resume full of "VP positions" to market.

It’s obviously a personal decision, but let’s just say if you do an ROI calculation on it, it’s usually a bad deal. Some people do it because the dropping of the 100k and having a schedule makes them commit to something. But if you take 100k, and the 2000+ hours and put it to good use 9 times out of 10 you can get further on your own in my opinion. If you do decide to get an MBA, make sure to play the “game” at the University. Network and get to know all the professors real well. The best attribute of an MBA program is the relationships some of the schools have with corporations.

War and peace is now complete.
post #6 of 19
what the heck is a kennedy mba?
post #7 of 19

Don't have an MBA, but I'm considering it in the future.  So I'm not the target audience you wanted advice from but here are my thoughts.  Skimmed War and Peace above and pretty much agree with it.  ROI calculation for someone making a comfortable income always comes out pretty bad for MBA.  What makes the MBA still desirable for some is if it opens up opportunities and networks that you otherwise did not have & these opportunities are something you place a high nonmonetary value on(long term career satisfaction).  

 

Before exploring the MBA route, determine if you can break into desired role/industry without the MBA.  Exhaust linkedin and see the profiles of people with jobs you want.  What was their background prior to VP, did they need an MBA?  Possibly consult with headhunters as well if you can find one with a good reputation.  If you did all this for awhile and discover that the opportunities are not there, next step is to determine if the MBA provides those opportunities.  I don't know much about international MBA programs but most elite US programs will post their recent recruiting statistics.  You can see the percentage and # of students entering each field.  Average starting salary is included as well broken out by industry.  If your goal is to make a career change into a competitive position, then you should really only be considering the top MBA programs with strong career recruitment (and also fulltime programs).  The top 7 in the US are generally highly regarded when it comes to recruitment, with the following tier recruiting well within their given geographic region/or industry niche.  

 

I felt like all of this was common sense but hopefully something there will be useful for you.  Also check out gmatclub.com for an mba related discussion forum.  Also your story should make you an attractive candidate to the adcoms assuming your numbers are strong as well.

post #8 of 19
Quote:
what the heck is a kennedy mba?

Me having brain damage and cocktails. I was just reading about the joint program at Harvard that is MBA for Government. Kennedy being the Harvard school of government. How about HBS.
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by yakmerchant View Post

Me having brain damage and cocktails. I was just reading about the joint program at Harvard that is MBA for Government. Kennedy being the Harvard school of government. How about HBS.

there it is.
post #10 of 19

2 questions: how much do you make now and where do you live?

 

If you live in a place where you are already considered rich, maybe you shouldn't go because 34 is a little old to be starting b school.  The average age is late 20s, early 30s.  And why did you compare INSEAD with Thunderbird?  One is a good school, the other is a joke regardless of what their International "Business" program is like.  Was it because both seem to deemphasize quantitative skills?

post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for the responses.

Landshark - i agree that a lot of it is common sense.  my intention with an MBA is to better organize my thoughts and get the MBA credentials to back up my experience.  Networking is good too as I really enjoy interacting with like-minded individuals who are business oriented.

Superfluous - it's just a small amount of cash going... recent economy has hit me and sales are down 30%. I can let it run while I'm in school but in order for it to grow, it will need to innovate or I will need to find other clients overseas like Australia.

Yakmerchant - agreed on being "in the club... bottle full of bub" :) I think you are correct in continuing to start businesses.  To be honest, I haven't dedicated myself like I would if I were working for a company.  If I were smart, and that's a big IF, I'd work 60 hours a week on my own stuff instead of working so hard on something else.  Shit, I should do that instead. haha. Interesting advice on the CPIM or CSPC certiifcation. That's something I never considered.  Great last paragraph man.

Swimgood - I am pretty sure I can break into the industry / role w/o the MBA but I feel like with the MBA credentials, it would be more of a drop in the hat and I could get further up the ladder.  Good advice on consulting with headhunters.  I haven't seriously looked for a job since 2002 and my resume/experience was so immature back then.  I guess the job seeking approach is completely different when you have 10+ years of exp under your belt.

CushyCouture - For the past 6 years I've been averaging 60k a year and the work is part time.  This year is CRAZY slow but I haven't really pushed myself so I really ought to do that.  I usually live in Arizona but have been in China / HK for the past 2 years on/off.  Interesting thoughts on Insead being a great school and Thunderbird being a joke.  Funny enough, my buddy who went to Harvard for his undergrad said him and his buddies laugh at the people who went to Thunderbird because they also think it's a joke.  I know Insead is a great school and I will apply to it once I take the GMAT.

 

post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by travelr View Post

Thank you all for the responses.

Landshark - i agree that a lot of it is common sense.  my intention with an MBA is to better organize my thoughts and get the MBA credentials to back up my experience.  Networking is good too as I really enjoy interacting with like-minded individuals who are business oriented.

Superfluous - it's just a small amount of cash going... recent economy has hit me and sales are down 30%. I can let it run while I'm in school but in order for it to grow, it will need to innovate or I will need to find other clients overseas like Australia.

Yakmerchant - agreed on being "in the club... bottle full of bub" :) I think you are correct in continuing to start businesses.  To be honest, I haven't dedicated myself like I would if I were working for a company.  If I were smart, and that's a big IF, I'd work 60 hours a week on my own stuff instead of working so hard on something else.  Shit, I should do that instead. haha. Interesting advice on the CPIM or CSPC certiifcation. That's something I never considered.  Great last paragraph man.

Swimgood - I am pretty sure I can break into the industry / role w/o the MBA but I feel like with the MBA credentials, it would be more of a drop in the hat and I could get further up the ladder.  Good advice on consulting with headhunters.  I haven't seriously looked for a job since 2002 and my resume/experience was so immature back then.  I guess the job seeking approach is completely different when you have 10+ years of exp under your belt.

CushyCouture - For the past 6 years I've been averaging 60k a year and the work is part time.  This year is CRAZY slow but I haven't really pushed myself so I really ought to do that.  I usually live in Arizona but have been in China / HK for the past 2 years on/off.  Interesting thoughts on Insead being a great school and Thunderbird being a joke.  Funny enough, my buddy who went to Harvard for his undergrad said him and his buddies laugh at the people who went to Thunderbird because they also think it's a joke.  I know Insead is a great school and I will apply to it once I take the GMAT.

 


You can live comfortably on 60k in Arizona right?  And if like you said you work hard you could probably make significantly more.  Keep in mind b school is something like a 150k endeavor, at least the ones I know about.  If you plan on raising a family like in SF or NY, yeah, an MBA from a top 20 will probably really help you.  I might even say you'd need it unless you're a high powered attorney, doctor, tech baller.  As for INSEAD, if you stay in america you may want to think about attending a top american b school.  Companies that pay the big bucks for MBAs usually want someone with strong quantitative aptitude, and they believe it is found more at Wharton for instance than INSEAD or another foreign school.

post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CushyCouture View Post


You can live comfortably on 60k in Arizona right?  And if like you said you work hard you could probably make significantly more.  Keep in mind b school is something like a 150k endeavor, at least the ones I know about.  If you plan on raising a family like in SF or NY, yeah, an MBA from a top 20 will probably really help you.  I might even say you'd need it unless you're a high powered attorney, doctor, tech baller.  As for INSEAD, if you stay in america you may want to think about attending a top american b school.  Companies that pay the big bucks for MBAs usually want someone with strong quantitative aptitude, and they believe it is found more at Wharton for instance than INSEAD or another foreign school.

 

Cushy, yep, you can live ok on 60k but there is a big difference between "ok" and "well".  I know the cost can be high for school but if I can get into a top school, I don't care about the cost, I will make every sacrifice possible since I know it will be worth it in the long run.  In the past couple of years I've adjusted my thinking process and have taken more of the long view on life and decisions.  It's interesting how your perspective changes after you've accomplished more, traveled and seen different ways people live, etc...

 

You bring up a good point about the different reps for each school.  I need to research that more.  Staying in America is an option but I also want the option to carry a good rep in Asia.  I think INSEAD has a decent rep in both.  I guess those who are in the know in the US will respect it.  Overseas it's known.

 

Thanks for the input man.

post #14 of 19
not exactly on par with you but i'll give you a little bit of personal background and you can see if it is applicable to your situation, which i think in many ways it is.

following high school, i didn't want to go to college at all. i figured if i weren't going to go to college, i needed to start a career. at the time (early 2000s), real estate seemed like easy money.

so at 18 i got a real estate license. i decided i didn't want to sell houses. i came together with two partners and raised a small fund, about $12MM. with my partners, and this capital, we built about 15 houses over a period of three years, and sold them.

at this point i decided i had "done something." i was now free to go to college.

i went to an ivy league school, majored in politics, thought politics was awful, graduated and now work in real estate finance/investment again. the only difference is i'm doing hospitality development instead of residential. i am making SLIGHTLY more than i was when i was 18... except now i have $50k in student loans to pay back (not bad by today's standards, but still).

my point is, i thought if i went to an ivy league school and graduated i'd make a shit ton of money and life would be grand.

while the degree and the name on it got me the position i am at, no question, i hesitate to say i am so much better off than i was 5 years ago working for myself.

am i happier? sure. am i better off? i guess it depends on how you look at it.

i guess my advice then, is MAKE SURE you will garner a serious return on your investment if you decide to spend $150k on an MBA. as mentioned earlier in the thread, you may very well be better off focusing on your business.
post #15 of 19
If you're making 60K, MBA makes sense.
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