MBA for Entrepreneurs

Going back for your MBA as an entrepreneur can be a tricky thing. 

First of all, you probably have done the math and know that most entrepreneurs never went to business school.  That’s right—the most successful entrepreneurs in the world not only never got their MBA, they never even went to, or graduated from, college. Why?  They had that special idea and the natural drive to make it happen.  The rest of us might need to get ready.

Some might argue that a true entrepreneur does not have the time to go to full time b-school.

This is to say, if you are already an entrepreneur (you have already started a successful company),  it’s likely that you can’t take two years off to educate yourself on how to run it better.  Certainly the adcoms will not buy it if this is the case.  I have seen applicants try to apply on the story that they have launched a successful business, then fall flat in the admissions process when schools can’t reconcile their history with how they are able to abandon the business to go back to school. 

In fact, it’s actually better to have crashed a startup and apply vs. applying with a currently-operating enterprise. 

For starters, schools do not like it when full-time MBA students have work outside the curriculum.  Secondly, having a really good failure story can engender sympathy and interest from b-schools who see you as having something to offer your classmates (a great asset to have indeed since much of what you learn in b-school comes from your classmates).

But what if you want to become an entrepreneur after b-school?

This is actually a much more common story in the application process.  As many as 40% of MBA applicants see themselves starting up their own company eventually.  If this describes you, the one risk you run when crafting your approach to the MBA applications is that you may end up sounding like a lot of other applicants, and failing to differentiate yourself in a memorable way can really present challenges to getting the “yes” from top schools. 

If your plan is to start your own company after business school, here’s a couple of recommendations:

One, you need to make sure you have a very solid vision in addition to a background which indicates a high probability of success with startups—in short, they have to believe you can do it.  Secondly, you should perhaps speak about your desire to start a company as a secondary career track or a plan B, since b-schools actually prefer students who will boost their employment stats by getting an actual job when they graduate.


To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at or contact us via