Beyond the MBA: Exploring new business education alternatives

Authored by:
Claudia Limbach

Claudia Limbach

Going to business school to complete an MBA (Masters of Business Administration) has long been regarded as an essential post-graduate course for professionals and while it offers core components in entrepreneurship, is it still a worthwhile investment in today’s business climate?

As we prepare to enter the fourth industrial revolution, how we live, work and communicate is changing. Key technologies and a convergence of our physical, digital, and biological worlds, will have an impact across all industries as smart and intelligent machines are automated to enhance our lives both in the workplace and in private. What does this mean for business education and what is the best start we can give to our entrepreneurial careers that ensure relevant skills, industry experience, a good return on investment whilst remaining accessible for all?

Whilst the cost of an MBA can vary, the average course amount for a one-year full-time course load can cost $50 000 USD to $80 000 USD for the full two-year program. Complete the course at an esteemed college such as Harvard or Columbia and you’re looking at up to $300 000 USD for a two-year program, which means unless you’re from a seriously wealthy family, you’re looking at years and years of tuition debt.

Where an MBA once represented a networking opportunity, the advent of digital networks and an increase of globalization mean that our networking opportunities are no longer restricted to the classroom or “old-boy networks”. As we’ve previously discussed, creative networking opportunities abound especially for those willing to step outside of their comfort zone. MBAs once represented a world of exclusivity, requiring top college marks to be selected for the program but now many MBAs are available to complete part-time and online, which means they have now lost part of their prestige.

Successful entrepreneurs share many characteristics: Confidence, drive, open-mindedness and the ability to self-start - but many of the world’s best-known entrepreneurs didn’t complete college including Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey. Amy Wilkinson, founder and CEO of Ingenuity, Lecturer at Stanford Graduate School of Business and author of “The Creator’s Code: The Six Essential Skills of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs” argues that no special expertise is required to these skills and that “the ability to turn ideas into enduring enterprises is available to anyone willing to learn and work”. It leaves you questioning whether your time could be better spent investing in future work skills, building your network, honing your technical skills, and finding the right mentor to suit your needs.

"I'm very pleased to be on the advisory board for the eLab programme. The innovative format - a mix of proven frameworks together with practical advice from start-ups themselves -  is exactly what future founders need to develop their ideas and prepare them for the fast-moving world of entrepreneurship."  
Alison Coward, eLab Advisory Board.

At eLab, we offer fast-tracked learning specifically tailored for future entrepreneurs. As the nonprofit global leader in intercultural exchange, we invite you to join us at our cutting-edge campuses and work together with you to generate and develop your ideas. We’ll help you to cultivate core business skills including finance, funding, planning, design prototypes, ethics, data analysis, impact measurement, and more. We’ll ensure you understand the startup structure, connect you to mentors and VCs and help you to develop your pitch for future investors. We offer this at an affordable and competitive price, leaving you with more funds to invest in your business. Check out our programs and scholarships and get the lowdown on how accelerated learning with eLab will kickstart your entrepreneurial career.

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