If you are an entrepreneur and you are headed toward an MBA in Entrepreneurship, you might be wondering if your application should look any different from those submitted by professionals with a corporate background.
The truth is there is no one right way to design your business school application. It is best to focus on your individual story and unique experience when presenting your case. While staying true to yourself is of prime importance for your integrity and success, there are some pointers that MBA aspirants can follow to bring out their entrepreneurial spirit in their application.
Showcase your entrepreneurial talent
Investing in your ideas, founding your own company, and building a project from the ground up all mean that you have gone a step further in some aspects of business than most business professionals. Entrepreneurs are known to be open to risk-taking and possess the all-round leadership knowledge needed for running your own startup. It is a very unique experience and naturally, MBA admissions committees will want to know more about it. You will have the opportunity to emphasize the unique traits of your profile in the MBA application essays and throughout interviews conducted face-to-face or online. The potential to bring your know-how into their classroom, allowing fellow executives to learn from it, is usually of great interest to AdComs. “All these experiences translate well to application stories, as well as experiences to bring to the classroom,” business school admissions consultant Alex Brown told MetroMBA.
Check out: Top 5 Entrepreneurs with MBA Degrees
However, it is just as important to maintain a good balance in your application in terms of the focus you put on your entrepreneurial personality. MBA applicants should be able to show how a business and management degree fits into their overall career plans as well as demonstrate what they will bring to the community. Spending a lot of time in focusing on one entrepreneurial venture may not work to their advantage.
Highlight what an MBA will bring to you as an entrepreneur
One of the greatest benefits of studying in an MBA program will be your access to the experience and knowledge of your classmates. To be successful and fulfill their vision, entrepreneurs should be able to look around and learn from their surroundings. Mike Davis, a serial entrepreneur and an alumnus from INSEAD (France), believes that the true value of the MBA can be found precisely in the rich mix of people and backgrounds. “I walked into the [MBA] classroom, and I remember the first discussion we had around entrepreneurship, and I thought: I am small-time. Let me stop talking and let me start listening,” Mr Davis told Fortuna Admissions. “It was great that it happened early in my time at INSEAD: the rest of my time I focused on getting to know everyone in my class. All 500. Their names, what they had done, what they wanted to do, and asking how I can help them achieve their goals.”
Indeed, having failed – or facing challenges in your ventures are not reasons to doubt the positive outcome of your MBA application. On the contrary, application essays and interviews provide an excellent opportunity to address those difficulties and explain how you have grown and learned from them as an entrepreneur. The MBA format enables professionals to fill in any gaps in their knowledge and to get familiar with all the important details of doing business, including strategy, marketing, finance, and more. Prove that you see the value of building a full-fledged intellectual toolkit to guide you towards realizing your next business ideas.
Explain your choice for specialization
As an entrepreneur headed to business school, you will be faced with the choice of doing a general MBA program or an MBA in Entrepreneurship. With the increasing popularity of this term, international programs specifically designed to teach entrepreneurship have also multiplied. At the end of the day, both types of formats – the general one and the specialization – will add to your leadership potential and help you grow professionally. However, going for either one should be a strategic and carefully thought out decision. Admissions consultant Alex Brown recommends researching your shortlisted programs in detail and exploring what they offer in terms of startup incubators and labs, access to venture funds, and other entrepreneurial resources.
Check out: What Are the Best MBAs for Entrepreneurship?
After jotting down the most important program offerings for you and deciding on the best MBA format to fulfill your goals, be sure to explain this motivation in your entire application. Admissions officers who interact with you will appreciate hearing a plan for what you want to achieve and how a particular program will get you there. As Chad Losee, Managing Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid at Harvard Business School (US) suggests, people do not necessarily have to present a life plan already mapped out, but getting “a sense for how people think about the decisions that they make” is certainly appreciated.
Get creative with recommendations
Letters of recommendation are another important admission requirement in most MBA programs. Usually, two professional recommendations in written form provided by the applicant’s current or previous employer are necessary for admission. After verifying the requirements of the program you are applying for, you can start devising a plan for getting the most out of your recommendations. For example, if you are the type of entrepreneur who has been self-employed for the better part of your career, you will need to explore alternative ways to select your recommenders. Entrepreneur and MBA alumna from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (US) Divinity Matovu suggests considering clients, partners or co-founders, investors, and mentors who are familiar with your work for the role of recommenders.
Depending on who ends up writing the letters of recommendation, it is vital to prepare them and instruct them about the task at hand. The texts they provide should be truthful but they should also highlight the value proposition of your business, their objective thoughts on your performance, and the results delivered through your work.
Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur or an accomplished one, opting for the MBA program that corresponds to your background is guaranteed to take you further in your career. Start crafting your application today.