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via Forbes: Alejandro Cremades here. I’m the executive chairman of CoFoundersLab, one of the largest communities of entrepreneurs online. CoFoundersLab’s community of expert entrepreneurs often advises new founders to critically assess the strategies of other start-ups, especially unicorns, who prove time and again that they possess visionary leaders.

In this thread found on CoFoundersLab, Patrick Larsen, examines the path to becoming an entrepreneur. Specifically, he explores whether it’s important for a prospective entrepreneur to have an MBA.

In general, Larsen says entrepreneurship, like any skill or field of study, is taught. While some people are autodidacts, everyone still learns from doing, Larsen argues. After all, he says, if you took a three-year-old Steve Jobs and put him on a desert island, he wouldn’t have become the greatest pitch man of all-time. Jobs learned from immersing himself in an environment and creating learning experiences.

Where can entrepreneurs learn? Larsen notes that most of the top MBA programs have excellent entrepreneurship programs.

On-the-ground, you can learn from mentors, competitors and even employees, Larsen says. Outside of work, you can acquire skills and knowledge from books and videos — even from just walking down the street. You can learn and be taught, and you can teach entrepreneurship. This is the “Growth Mentality.” See the book “Mindset” by Carol Dweck for more on this.

In general, Larsen says the (false) perception in entrepreneurial circles is that you have to be a “natural” to succeed. He reasons this could be because people are afraid of failure, commitment and a future of potential setbacks and disappointments.

If you’re considering enrolling in an MBA program to strengthen your entrepreneurial knowledge base and skill set, Larsen advises you to examine two factors:

1) An MBA gives you an easy road to a corporate career. The accounting and finance you learn are applicable to most companies with profits, stable cash flows, fixed costs, accurate forecasting, etc. Start-ups often only have a few of these qualities — if they’re lucky. So if you’re looking for a stable business, you might be not be suited for a start-up.

2) An MBA can saddle you with debt. That makes taking a risk, like a start-up, much scarier. An MBA and its attendant debt can also limit the amount of times you’re able to “fail” and “pivot” with your start-up. You can’t default on this debt.

3) An MBA allows you to raise money, earns people’s trust, learn strategy and acquire rigorous critical-thinking skills, Larsen says.

But, he says, you need to think of starting a business as a sample size of one. That is: It doesn’t matter if an MBA is good for others or not. You need to ask yourself if it’s a good option for YOU, Larsen says. Is the school right? Is the timing right? Are you in the right place mentally to take on debt and possibly not make money for a few years after you graduate? Are you motivated, and will you keep on trying if you stumble?

If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to look back on your MBA and be grateful for all of the knowledge you acquired and people and mentors you met, Laren says. This is how you “learn” to be an entrepreneur.

 

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