MBA programs can be the perfect training ground for entrepreneurs

  • August 11, 2023
  • By WashU Olin Business School
  • 3 minute read

People gravitate toward an MBA program for many different reasons. For students with an entrepreneurial mindset and a desire to grow their own businesses, an MBA can offer a fountain of experience, knowledge, mentorship and friendship, which they can use to create their ventures and influence success.

An MBA for entrepreneurs is also an opportunity for students to start growing their businesses as they learn. Does an MBA help entrepreneurs become better business owners? Without a doubt, the lessons learned in an MBA program’s training-ground environment will model many business scenarios. Students can use this environment to practice, gain confidence and make valuable mistakes. What’s more, they can do so in the company of leaders and founders already practicing these skills.

On top of that, entrepreneurial-minded individuals bring a particular energy to their campuses and online environments. They are more likely to bring creative, innovative and practical approaches to problems and be willing to get stuck in difficult situations for the sake of learning. In this way, entrepreneurs and universities grow together in a mutually inspiring relationship.

How does an MBA help entrepreneurs grow the seed of their businesses?

For MBA seekers with their minds set on business ownership, the Olin MBA program can be a roadmap to entrepreneurship (with some important detours and off-the-beaten-track experiences baked in).

Find an origin story

At the Hatchery, Olin’s own entrepreneurship platform, students can try out the most challenging aspects of starting a business. They can pitch their ideas to venture capitalists, test their business plans and publicize their startups to investors on a global stage. This renowned resource helps early-stage entrepreneurs investigate their plans in a safe, low-risk environment while building real community connections.

Experience life as a leader

Olin’s focuses on experiential learning, which is learning gained through real trial and error. This type of learning sticks with students as they make their way into the wider business world. Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning offers courses that connect students with local and global entrepreneurs so that they can witness the ground level of early-stage ventures. For instance, students can put their data-driven leadership to the test in the CEL Metrics Clinic, which connects students with St. Louis startups in a student-led, faculty-supervised consulting project with real-world impact.

Test one’s metal

Olin prides itself on a particular accelerator class called “The League of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs.” It is designed for students who are almost ready to enter the business world with their ideas and navigate the fundraising stage. Fundraising is often the most intimidating lesson new entrepreneurs must learn. Being able to tackle it in a supportive yet challenging environment alongside other entrepreneurs can be critically important.

Create a team

It is an important part of the MBA experience to meet like-minded and dissimilar individuals who can help students progress their ventures. Olin’s courses are designed to help students form business relationships with cohorts, faculty members, a diverse alumni network and external leaders they will encounter along the way. The whole of St. Louis and the wider region is mobilized around Olin’s MBA as a rich entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Don’t take our word for it, though. Look instead at the entrepreneurs out in the world—those who are already taking the lessons of the MBA program and bringing them to life, serving real customers and solving real problems.

Kai Skallerud is one such alumnus. He came to Olin as a medical student but with a passion for founding a healthcare business. His business earned funding through the St. Louis Inno Madness contest, and Kai spoke about the importance of the preparation he received through the MBA program. “[It] gave me the confidence I needed to take entrepreneurial risks in the real world,” he said. The practical but protected environment of the program allowed him to test his limits and ideas and piece together the steps to entrepreneurial success.

If this sounds like exactly what you need as you begin (or continue) your business journey, contact Olin’s MBA team for more information about the MBA for entrepreneurs.

About the Author

Washington University in Saint Louis

WashU Olin Business School

Firmly established at the Gateway to the West, Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis stands as the gateway to something far grander in scale. The education we deliver prepares our students to thoughtfully make difficult decisions—the kind that can change the world.

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