Why most MBAs are ill-prepared to start a business

MBA programs generally lack a key component that makes them not worth it for people who want to start their own businesses.

MBA graduates make good candidates for mid-level managers of larger companies. But, MBA programs generally lack a key component that makes them not worth it for people who want to start their own businesses.

The Master of Business Administration (MBA or M.B.A.) is probably one of the most recognized and best-known management qualifications in the world. Having an MBA can accelerate your career, prepare you for promotion or help you have a complete career change. An MBA degree is recommended (and often required) for many executive, management, finance, bank, marketing, accounting and human resources jobs.

But, is getting an MBA a good choice when you want to start a new business? My answer to that question would have to be a “no.” The reason is, most MBA programs don’t teach you a squat about selling despite that fact that selling is the most important business skill for a start-up entrepreneur. Selling is what fuels business growth and should be every start-up’s top priority.

So, why MBA schools don’t teach it? Or, do they?

To find out, I took a look the 2011 curriculum of two of the most famous MBA schools in the world: London Business School and Harvard Business School. Here’s what their curriculum looks like:

London Business School Harvard Business School
Core courses:
  • Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Corporate Finance
  • Data Analytics for Management
  • Discovering Entrepreneurial Opportunities
  • Financial Accounting
  • Understanding the International Macroeconomy
  • Global Leadership Assessment for Managers
  • IT for Business Value
  • Global Leadership Development Programme
  • Language Learning
  • Management Accounting
  • Managerial Economics
  • Managing Organisational Behaviour
  • Marketing
  • Operations Management
  • Strategy
  • Understanding General Management


  • Accounting
  • Economics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • Languages
  • Management Science and Operations
  • Marketing
  • Organisational Behaviour
  • Strategic and International Management
  • University College London electives


Required curriculum:
  • Finance I
  • Financial Reporting and Control
  • Leadership and Organizational Behavior
  • Marketing
  • Technology and Operations Management
  • Business, Government, and the International Economy
  • Strategy
  • The Entrepreneurial Manager
  • Finance II
  • Leadership and Corporate Accountability

Elective curriculum:

  • Accounting and Management
  • Business, Government & the International Economy
  • Entrepreneurial Management
  • Finance
  • General Management
  • Marketing
  • Negotiation, Organizations & Markets
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Strategy
  • Technology & Operations Management


Pretty impressive, isn’t it? Yes, it is. And, most of what you learn will definitely be helpful to you as an aspiring entrepreneur. But the complete lack of attention to selling—even if it is touched upon in other lectures or projects—doesn’t make getting an MBA degree a worthy investment in my eyes. Especially not, if your goal is to start your own business.

Just to make sure I didn’t miss selling somewhere, I dug deeper into subjects like Marketing, Management, Operations and Entrepreneurship. However, I didn’t find a single mention of selling. Not even how to manage a sales force! Personally, I don’t understand this omission at all and consider it inexcusable. After all, it’s sales that fuels a business. And, not just any business. Every business!

If you have an MBA degree or consider getting one, please don’t take this personally. But, what this experience taught me is that MBA schools don’t appreciate the importance of selling and they are not worth your hard-earned money, unless you plan on working for somebody else for the rest of your life.