Masters ofBusiness Administration aren’t just significant for business schools anduniversities. An entire industry has been set up around the notion that youdon’t need to go to business school. That everything you need to learn you canbe taught through podcasts, YouTube lessons, self-help business books, TED Talks,and a virtually endless array of resources designed to keep you out of aclassroom. The people who offer these courses and DIY lessons are usuallysuccessful entrepreneurs, some taking the angle that they wasted their money ona MBA, while more still offer a different path for the auto-didacticallyinclined.
Which is better?
Measuring successis subjective and there are advantages and disadvantages to both. On one hand,the structured learning environment of a business school almost guaranteesyou’ll have covered the full curriculum at the end of the course, giving you awell-rounded knowledge of the business world. With self-teaching, you learn asyou go, and your knowledge is directly influenced by the challenges you’vefaced and the next one in front you. This can leave gaps in your fundamentalknowledge that can impact anything new you are trying to learn — like trying tolearn about physics without understanding basic maths.
The sense ofachievement
Ask any MBAgraduate and they’ll tell you that achieving the qualification is a gruellingjourney and the sense of achievement at the end is immense. An entrepreneur whobuilds a successful company will tell you the same thing.
The idea oftaking on a challenge and conquering it using your own wits and acumen is theromantic notion that drives the self-teaching industry. That’s not to say it iswrong, but it lacks the back-up plan that a formal MBA will provide. If youstart teaching yourself the content of a MBA to help your business idea,regardless of how successful you become, you won’t have the qualification atany point. This is fine if you’re Jeff Bezos and your business idea becomes thebiggest of them all, but what happens if your business doesn’t work? Failure isthe greatest teacher, but if you have to find a day job, a Masters in Failuredoesn’t open many doors.
Conversely, ifyou head to business school for a formal education, are you simply learning theskills with which every other graduate is trying to be successful? Is there achance that the structured nature of what you’re learning will extinguish yourcreativity? There is probably an argument for that, but a MBA course isn’tsimply what’s written in the text books. It’s the experience of talking topeople in your class. People who have different experiences, are differentages, have individual ambitions, and each contribute to your MBA in their ownway.
So, which isbetter?
Whether you canget all the information yourself is debateable, but either path will have itschallenges and disappointments. The key thing to remember, is that these thingsdon’t have to be mutually exclusive. Listening to MBA podcasts and watchinglessons might not replace your business school, but they could enhance yourknowledge and give you another perspective. Likewise, never discount thepossibility of heading to business school to enhance your career prospects orgive your business ideas a push.