Can an Online MBA benefit an entrepreneur?

The question of how valuable MBAs are to ambitious, business-minded entrepreneurs continues to rage – in fact, it’s red hot.

There are well-reasoned cases on all sides of the argument. While there will always be those who forge their own successful commercial path without a business qualification, a considerable number of MBA graduates are choosing not to pursue high-level jobs in favour of setting up their own enterprises.

As education marketing specialists discovered as part of a 2016 study into MBA trends, almost one in five of the 1,000 international MBA applicants surveyed were considering programmes to help them set up their own businesses.

So, how can an Online MBA benefit entrepreneurs?

What is entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is a way of thinking, reasoning and acting that is opportunity obsessed and holistic in approach. It is a process that has the goal of creating, enhancing, realising, and renewing value for not only owners, but for all participants and stakeholders in either a new or existing organisation. Having an entrepreneurial spirit allows individuals to explore, identify and develop new venture opportunities that can benefit not only their own professional careers but also their organisations.

MBAs and entrepreneurs – a powerful combination

An MBA, particularly one based online that allows for development of a business idea alongside it, is an effective way of cementing the skills and attributes needed to create an enterprise from the ground up.

Asked what they hoped to achieve with their MBAs as part of a recent Applications and Aspirations Report, 60.5% of prospective students from 127 different countries named running their own business over any other aspiration.

What’s more, it seems it doesn’t take long for an MBA to pay off for those who want to go their own way. Researchers looking into the varying returns on investment experienced by MBA graduates have found that three years after graduating, those who set up their own projects earned more on average than their counterparts who stayed in employment.

Deliveroo is a great case in point. The international app-based food delivery service was started by MBA graduate William Shu in London in 2013. In 2016, his company secured fifth-round Series E venture capital investment of $275million, more than the total granted to any other MBA-founded start-up that year.

Our own alumni are also making an impact as high-achieving entrepreneurs. Bärbel Buyse completed the MBA (part-time) in 2002 and went on to develop Sepia; a leading visual marketing company based in Belgium. In 2011, Bärbel was awarded the prestigious Women in Enterprise and Development (WOMED) award from Markant, the network of female entreprenuers. She credits the MBA as giving her valuable skills and support needed to embark on her own enterprise.

Some say entrepreneurship can’t be taught, but as increasing numbers of MBA graduates are launching viable solo ventures, today’s MBA programmes must be inspiring a spirit of intrepid commercial flair.

What can an online MBA offer entrepreneurs?

Perhaps more than any other type of MBA programme, an Online MBA offers the most fertile ground for prospective entrepreneurs.

The fact that you can access the programme whenever and wherever you wish gives you rich opportunity to work on your business enterprise alongside your Online MBA. The Vlerick Online MBA encourages you to make your venture a focus for your learning, providing a real case study through which to demonstrate business theory in action and apply newly-sharpened business skills. You can add to your own deepening understanding with feedback from peers and faculty, giving you fresh perspective on your own project. 

Experiential learning is delivered and supported by business experts with their own hard-won business experience; not just academic professors but leaders within market-leading enterprises.

What they bring is in the Vlerick DNA; a balance of academic and business-minded expertise, and a great deal of enthusiasm. Many of them work for market-leading businesses, or sit on the board of multinational corporations as independent directors, so the calibre of business acumen amongst our faculty is second to none.”

“For those who are entrepreneurial, our programme can help them make sure their idea becomes a solid business venture,” says Dr Steve Muylle, Academic Director of our Online MBA.

“You’ll work with innovators who have faced the same challenges in order to become successful entrepreneurs. You can learn a huge amount from their knowledge, experience, pragmatism and access to global business networks.”

A blueprint for entrepreneurial success

Business people who successfully forge their own career paths are thought to embody certain qualities. We agree that self-discipline, tenacity, confidence, creativity and leadership skills all go a long way towards helping potential entrepreneurs achieve their professional goals.  

However, we also believe that where these skills are lacking or less developed than they could be, the right training and education can build them up. By engaging in challenging interactive exercises, synchronous classes and group projects crafted to sharpen these attributes and more, you’ll find yourself more ready to pursue your solo venture than ever before.

While the direct application of MBA knowledge is important, you may be wondering how programme content has been designed to strengthen entrepreneurial expertise.

The Entrepreneurship course has been specifically created to help you master the competences and mindset you’ll need to start your own business. Filled with insights into the theory and practice of entrepreneurship and new venture creation, this course will prove that entrepreneurs are made, not born.

Personal perspective is vital in this regard, which is why the programme starts with a seven-week Leadership Development course alongside the main MBA curriculum. With your own personal coach on hand to help you build up your confidence and leadership skills, finding and holding on to the conviction in your business ideas can become second nature.

Once you’re enrolled on the programme, you’ll be able to access the Vlerick alumni community with a free gold membership. The community is a dynamic support network of more than 21,000 alumni based in more than 100 countries worldwide, and offers a lifelong source of business knowledge sharing and collaboration, an invaluable resource for any entrepreneur.

Gold membership benefits include online Vlerick alumni database access, one-to-one career support and access to exclusive online events.

If you have a business idea and think our Online MBA could help you develop your inner entrepreneur, please request form.


Accreditations & rankings

  • Association of MBAs
  • The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Financial Times