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July 16, 2011


I wanted to provide some admissions advice for MBA applicants with entrepreneurial goals. As with all my advice, it is based simply on what is intended to generate a positive admissions result from an MBA program and is not primarily intended to be actual career advice.

How will a specific MBA program help you achieve your entrepreneurial goals?
Be specific.  For example, Wharton, a school that many don't initially associate with entrepreneurship, has significant resources in this area, which are all accessible via this page.  You can find similar entrepreneurial pages for HBS, Stanford (Given the vast entrepreneurial resources that exist through Stanford University, this link is for the entire university, not just the GSB), Columbia Business School, UC Berkeley Haas, Chicago Booth, MIT Sloan,  and many others if you look for them. Some schools, might not have a single comprehensive page. If you can't find main academic, student club, and research pages, it is probably a good indicator that the school is not very good at entrepreneurship. If the school is not good at entrepreneurship and you want to go there, I suggest making non-entrepreneurial goals for that school.  I have worked with  many clients who changed their goals to fit the school's actual resources and found it to be a successful admissions strategy.

Given the entrepreneurial resources that exist at the school you are planning to apply to, do you need post-MBA goals that involve working at a company prior to starting your own?
I often have encountered reapplicants with the past experience to make a strong case for post-MBA entrepreneurial career who inserted a non-entrepreneurial short-term goal in their career (usually in consulting or some equally unimaginative path) because they needed two goals which were very different (As though being an entrepreneur and building a successful enterprise long-term were not different enough!) or because they did not think that anyone would consider a direct move into entrepreneurship as reasonable.  When I work with people who clearly have an entrepreneurial track record, my basic position is that unless they really see some reason why they need a short-term non-entrepreneurial phase prior to launching their own business, they should completely focus on a post-MBA entrepreneurial future.  MBA programs that are strong in entrepreneurship are designed to actually help their students launch successful start-ups.  See for example, this press release from Chicago Booth.  By the way, I think a huge number of applicants do not ever think about Booth for entrepreneurship, which is a huge mistake. 

If you don't have a specific business plan that you think you want to develop in your MBA program, what areas interest you?
I think for those who have already tried and succeeded or failed or something in-between it is not necessary that you go in with a full plan that you want to implement.  Rather, think about what really interests you and that you can make the best case for.  You don't need a business plan when you apply, but you do need to explain what you are passionate about.  Of course, if you actually have a plan and can justify why you need an MBA to launch it, that is great!

Longer Term Entrepreneurial Goals
It is certainly reasonable to have a short-term goal that is non-entrepreneurial and a longer term goal that is.  Starting one's own business after mastering a profession is reasonable enough.  Longer term entrepreneurial goals in areas such as finance and consulting can certainly require an initial post-MBA career as an employee.  Disclosure: I am biased because this what I did after working as an admissions consultant at a company from 2001-2007.  I developed expertise in an organizational setting that made it possible for me to go independent.  When one aspires to launch a consultancy, a venture fund, or other types of businesses that rest on expertise, a post-MBA goal that makes that makes obtaining that expertise possible is necessary. Whatever your entrepreneurial goals are, just make sure that your longer terms goals actually show a wideness of vision that help the admissions office understand that you are someone who wants to have significant impact in the future.

-Adam Markus
 アダム マーカス
I am a graduate admissions consultant based in Tokyo, Japan with clients worldwide. If you would like to arrange an initial consultation, please complete my intake form, which is publicly available on google docs hereand then send your completed form to adammarkus@gmail.com.  You can also send me your resume if it is convenient for you.  Please don't email me any essays, other admissions consultant's intake forms, your life story, or any long email asking for a written profile assessment. The only profiles I assess are those with people who I offer initial consultations to.  See here for why.

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