About a year and a half ago, I was gung-ho about getting into an MBA program. One of the main drivers for this goal was a recent career change – from a blue collar military background to a white collar consulting job. I thought achieving an MBA would help me advance in my career.
In many ways, an MBA would have helped me in my career, and I’m sure it would still be beneficial. But my personal and professional goals have changed since I began researching MBA programs, and in that time, I realized that I don’t need an MBA like I thought I did.
One of the personal reasons I wanted an MBA was for the challenge. I enjoy working toward goals and I enjoy difficult challenges. A top tier MBA program places you among some of the top business minds in the world and you have a chance to learn from your professors and fellow students. In the last year and a half I have gotten most of the challenge I was seeking from my small business.
My professional goals no longer dictate the need for an MBA either. While an MBA would help me if I were to pursue a managerial path, I have come to the realization that I don’t mind where I am in my career at this time. When I first joined the civilian workforce I felt like my options were limited, but as my experience has grown, I feel like there are more options available to me.
ROI of an MBA
Achieving an MBA is an expensive endeavor – both in terms of tuition and in terms of opportunity cost. A top tier MBA program will cost anywhere from $20,000 – $40,000 per year (or more) for tuition alone. And in that time you will usually have to forgo your normal salary. The total cost of a top tier MBA program can easily run into the quarter million dollar range in terms of tuition and opportunity cost, and that can take years to pay off.
My ROI has decreased in the last year and a half. When I first wrote about selecting an MBA program, I wasn’t making much money from either my day job or my business. However, things changed rather quickly. In the last year and a half I have received several raises and I now earn substantially more than I did a year and a half ago. My small business has also grown, and while I am earning more money with it, it also takes up more of my time. Starting an MBA program would mean that I would be giving up a higher salary and have less time to grow my business, and that means it would take much longer to achieve a positive ROI from an MBA program.
What about an online MBA program?
Online MBA programs offer a lot of flexibility and are better accepted now than they were a few years ago. But an online MBA program takes up the one thing I don’t have enough of right now – time. With a baby on the way and a small business that takes up much of my spare time, I don’t have the time to commit to an MBA program at this point in my life.
Seizing opportunity by growing my small business
Part of becoming an MBA is learning to recognize things like return on investment and opportunity cost. Right now I realize that my business is providing me the things I was seeking from an MBA program – in terms of increased income, a challenge, and learning new skills. I am the CEO of my company… and the CFO, chief marketing officer, secretary, technical writer, and everything in between. I wear a lot of hats around here, and it has been an incredible learning experience.
I’m not closing the door on an MBA forever
Just as my situation changed in the last year and a half, I realize things can change again. I could lose my day job, I could sell my small business or it could fold, my company could offer to sponsor me into a program, I could decide that an MBA is the right thing for me no matter what the opportunity cost. But right now, that isn’t the case. Instead, I am choosing to grow my small business and see where that takes me. I know the MBA programs will always be around, but this opportunity may not. For the time being, growing my business is my choice.