The short answer to that question is ‘no.’ But the longer, in depth answer should add a ‘but . . . ‘
You don’t need an MBA to become a successful entrepreneur, but what an MBA can provide you with, the skills and the contacts, can certainly make it easier to succeed with a new idea or startup. Let’s explore this concept a little further:
The discipline of advanced education.
Nowadays it seems common, even cliched, to have a bachelor’s degree in something, whether it be English, Engineering, or Phy Ed. But it’s important to remember that less than fifty years ago most adult Americans did not have a college degree. They entered the workforce with a high school education, if that, and managed, for the most part, to successfully navigate the career whitewaters they encountered. Those who were truly ambitious, or had a rich uncle, got a college degree and then expected to reach the rarified atmosphere of upper management or work in one of the white collar trades like CPA or Pharmacy.
What college education has always meant to dedicated students is DISCIPLINE. Despite the headlines today, it takes hard work and intelligence to get into a good university, and it takes even more of the same, plus a steely discipline, to go after an MBA. The work done to be awarded an MBA means that the recipient has learned to discipline himself or herself much more than the average college grad. And discipline is one of the keystones of successful entrepreneurship. Hands down.
A built-in network of resource persons and possible investors.
Ask any successful entrepreneur about the most valuable contacts and supportive investors at the beginning of their careers and chances are good they are going to mention some of their MBA professors and some of their fellow students. A good MBA program has built-in motivators for teachers to become mentors to their students, and for fellow students to become colleagues and, when possible, financial enablers with seed money and allied material support — such as a free or steeply discounted advertising campaign or an introduction to a group of otherwise aloof investors. These are invaluable aids to an entrepreneur who is just starting out with an idea or concept — one that somebody without those MBA-related ties cannot expect to duplicate.
Of course there are still diploma mills around that will grant just about anyone a degree, even an MBA, for little or no real coursework and original field work. And sadly, there are still people gullible enough to think that such a scam has any meaning or weight in the real world of business and finance. These kinds of certificates aren’t even worth the gilt-edged paper their printed on.
But when a person puts themselves through a rigorous course of learning in order to obtain an advanced understanding of the business world and high finance, and then is awarded a legitimate sheepskin for their work and thought, it just naturally gives the graduate a sense of accomplishment, and builds their self confidence into something that is hard to knock down and defeat. An entrepreneur needs all the confidence they can get — and an MBA is one solid way of achieving that.