What would I learn in an MBA with a focus on Entrepreneurship, and what won't I learn?
As a serial entrepreneur with an MBA, here is my perspective:The traditional MBA is designed for engineers or non business majors who wish to move into management at an established firm. As interest in entrepreneurship has increased, many MBA programs have “tweaked” the curriculum to add topics that “include” entrepreneurship. In some cases, this simply means that a few case studies are added about start-ups, and the finance class will spend some time discussing raising capital and going public. That will hardly prepare anyone for entrepreneurship.Realistically, no MBA program can teach you everything you need to know about business. But I would submit that very few (if any) are really designed or equipped to teach anything about entrepreneurship.For starters:Most of the faculty are professional academics, not entrepreneurs: Or even people with real world business experience. It’s a little like learning to ride a bicycle from someone who has only read about bicycles.The bias is towards using textbooks: these are not written or geared towards entrepreneurs. There is a stark difference in content between the “must have entrepreneur reading list” and a typical MBA book list.Each subject is given equal weight - you’ll spend the same amount of class time on each subject, even if the topic could have been covered in half the time. So non-critical topics are expanded to fill time, and the really important topics are compressed.Zero hands on: -Again, I’ll fall back to my bicycle analogy: Imagine taking a Masters program on bicycles where you study the history of bicycles, how they are made, the physics behind riding a bicycle, classes on bicycle design and engineering, gear ratios, wind resistance, tread design, a survey of great cyclists, and occasionally an award winning cyclist will come and guest lecture. The entire program (except for maybe the capstone class) is taught by people who have never owned a bicycle, and during the entire program you never once get to ride one yourself. That is the modern MBA program.This applies to any MBA program, not just the (allegedly) entrepreneurship focused MBA. My Executive MBA cohort was filled with +25 capable and very talented people with years of business experience and technical expertise across all of the business functions (HR, marketing, accounting, finance, etc). Each individual had more hands on business experience than any of the professors teaching the classes, and collectively we spent over $1.2 million on the MBA tuition. As an entrepreneur, I feel we would have been much better off pooling that money into a startup fund and hiring part time advisors and consultants as needed to help us brainstorm/launch/ and run a company for 2 years.The list of what they don’t teach you in business school is long, and the reason there are literally hundreds of business books published each year on leadership, negotiation, contract law, hiring effectively, playing hardball in a competitive environment, mentoring, psychology of entrepreneurship, stress management, trend spotting, sales, crisis management, etc.As an example, my first brick and mortar business involved all sorts of legal and regulatory issues that were never even discussed in business school. Selecting a site, negotiating lease terms (like figuring out what was really “standard leasing practice” or if the landlord was taking us for a ride with a triple net lease and a percentage of revenue), building out the physical space, dealing with the local zoning commission to ensure customers could park, getting the city to approve signage, setting up credit card payment systems, etc. And that was all before the business even opened. Most business programs assume you are walking into an established business and will learn “on the job”.As an entrepreneur, I spent a lot of time “cramming” online, digging through legal books at the local library, and talking to other business owners in order to fill in the huge gap that B-school didn’t even try to cover. Every day was a new learning challenge: labor rules that changed with the number of employees you have, fire inspections, contradictory OSHA regulations, overlapping tax regulations, surprise fees and fines. It never ends. Your banker, accountant, and lawyer will be your new best friends in the first year or two in the business.Your best “prep” will be to read a lot of blogs and stories of others who started up in a similar business. For software engineering, there are literally hundreds of articles, blogs, and journals online. I would also start here: What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes from a Street-smart Executive: Mark H. McCormack: 9780553345834: Amazon.com: Books The book is a bit dated and showing its age, but still worth a read.Hope this was helpful.