Should you apply for an MBA or launch a startup? Surely that’s a misnomer? How can two disparate, unconnected terms be remotely linked?

The answer is more straightforward that you think. 

You’ve completed your undergraduate degree in the last few years and you’re thinking about what to do next in 2020?

Most of us (well according to a YouGov survey 30% of all the people in the UK) think about starting their own business. You have a great idea for a business but can you turn your great idea into a running, thriving and sustainable business? 

The conundrum is whether it is better to take one to two years developing your business idea and study a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or dive straight into the deep end and set up your new business now.

An MBA will give you the academic rigour behind what makes a successful business and you can use the MBA to research your new products or services, ready for an effective set up and launch.

However, will you have lost out in the market by waiting two years when you could have launched your business now? 

Let’s look further at MBAs. Are they worth the time and money and what will you have learned at the end of them?

Over 100 universities in the UK alone offer MBAs. They cost from £10,000 up to £67,000 and are usually studied over 1 to 2 years.

Currently, the best MBA programmes in the UK are at:

1. London Business School
2. Judge Business School (University of Cambridge)
3. Said Business School (University of Oxford)
4. Imperial College Business School
5. Warwick Business School
6. Alliance Manchester Business School
7. City University London Bayes Business School
8. Durham University Business School
9. Lancaster University Management School
10. University of Edinburgh Business School

The best MBA programmes globally are:

1. Columbia Business School
2. Insead
3. Lese Business School
4. Harvard Business School
4. Stanford Graduate Business School
6. SDA Bocconi School of Management
7. University of California at Berkeley
8. Cornell University: Johnson
9. Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management
10. Yale School of Management

You can study full or part time or even by distance learning. Sometimes if you’re already working, your employer may offer funds to support you.

If they do please be careful as some employers request that after finishing your MBA you remain with them for 1-2 years afterwards so that they can gain benefit from the financial contribution they’ve made to your learning. There are also grants and scholarships to help you pay for your MBA, if you search for them.  

The quality as well as the cost of MBAs, differs substantially between universities. Therefore it is vital that you check reviews of MBAs from previous students, that the MBA is accredited by AMBA (Association of MBAs) and you know exactly what content you will be studying.

It is worth asking to chat with the tutors who run the MBAs as you need to choose the one which is right for you. 

As part of your MBA you must write a dissertation on a work-based project. It always needs to be a real-world live example. This is your chance to research and plan in-depth your business idea and see how you can grow it into a real business as part of your MBA, learning as you go. 

With your MBA you can gain invaluable experience on how to manage finances for your business, develop your marketing strategy, lead teams and operationally and strategically plan your business to succeed.

On the other hand you could be two years further down the line, with substantially more student debt accrued and still to launch your business.

You can read numerous success stories about how an MBA was the difference between success and failure for a new start-up business and without an MBA the business would have floundered.

You can also read other testimonials about how the best way to succeed in business is to start your own immediately and learn on the job. 

Numerous statistics by national government bodies show 20% of new businesses fail within the first 12 months in the UK and this rises to 50% by year 5.

However how many of these are linked to business owners who do or don’t possess an MBA is not available.

What is known is that an MBA will give you a further postgraduate qualification which is valued by employers when recruiting, especially for senior post holders and a UK MBA is also internationally recognised around the world. 

Further information

For more tips and advice on applying for an MBA or starting a business, please see: