Why an entrepreneur is better taking a year off and lying on a beach than investing in an MBA.

Should an small business entrepreneur do an MBAAhhhh, this old chestnut (I just know I am going to get flamed for this one!)

I have close to 10 friends who have completed MBAs.  They are all very bright, driven and successful people.  But I noticed none are entrepreneurs. In 2010 a professor at London Business School mentioned to me only around 2% of MBA graduates end up becoming “entrepreneurs”.  I found this stat startling, so I went digging for some figures on entrepreneurship and MBAs.

Stanford Graduate School of Management is a pretty good proxy, they say:

The costs of an MBA can be huge – a good MBA can be between £30,000-£55,000 in fees alone; and relationships/marriages are drained from the experience, especially if you have a young family.  If you try to complete an MBA while still working IN your business you risk a whole lot more.

And, I think you’re mad.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe an MBA is a great qualification and experience to have – my mates tell me half the value in the MBA is the network of other successful people you build along the way. If you have or want a corporate career this is a big qualification to have.  I do note however, the average age of an MBA graduate in the US is mid-20s, which to me is senseless – a lot of the value you unlock during an MBA surely is from crystallising the management and business experience you have had already?

My 2 cents – if you want to add value to your business career take a sabbatical instead.  A sabbatical sounds silly, and easy, but it’s not.

Here’s what you’d have to do:

Step 1 – Get your business in a position so it can run itself.

Again, another key message from Michael Gerber’s The E-myth Revisited.  Not impossible, just hard – it’ll take courage, hard work and smart work by you and your team to make it happen.  And, a huge dose of trust in your team.

Step 2 – Prepare for your sabbatical.

I don’t mean by packing the sunscreen.  Sit down and write some goals, what do you want to achieve while you are away.  Hopefully there will be that stack of reading you’ve been meaning to get through.  But also you should take this time to think about your business, work ON your business.  Then load up your MP3 player and Kindle or whatever e-book reader you use (or you can be game and try and fit all the books in your luggage), pick your destination(s) and off you go.

Step 3 – When away, stay the hell away from your baby.

This is going to be painful and take tremendous discipline, but you can do it.  If you want to that is.  Sure, you can check emails and do bits-and-bobs while away but you are undermining the whole reason to do this.


If you have a romantic partner, why not pose the question to them – could they handle a year laying on a beach or travelling the world while you worked ON your business?  It could be the best move you ever make and you may be surprised on your return – your business is worth even more having grown while you were away AND proven it really doesn’t need you.

And that is a great position to be in.  What would you do next? Comments below, please.

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