THE BLOG

"Entrepreneur" Shouldn't Be a Dirty Word

11/14/2013 12:42 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

It seems everywhere an MBA candidate turns all they see are the difficulties that plague today's economy. The relentless need to improve efficiency in the face of faster and smarter foreign competition has led to dramatic corporate downsizing that has further affected the relative stability of white collar professionals.

Graduates are increasingly worried about future job prospects as the outsourcing trend continues unabated to emerging market powerhouses. These seismic changes occurring in today's economy leaves MBA candidates questioning the value of a MBA degree and the supposed guarantee of a career.

Today's MBA graduates are finding the job market to be a competitive one. Not only are they competing against fellow MBA graduates but also against thousands of other MBA graduates from around the globe. With MBA degrees becoming a dime a dozen and the number of positions relatively stagnant -- even shrinking in developed economies due to economic difficulties or industry consolidation -- an MBA graduate may find themselves in the dubious position of having to take any position in order to pay the bills, even if that position underutilizes their training.

There are some job postings out there that list the high level of strategic and financial skills gained from an MBA education, however, these are few and far between. This does not mean that MBA graduates cannot employ their skill sets after graduation. There exist several alternatives that will allow an MBA graduate to achieve higher levels of compensation and prestige as compared with their corporate MBA counterparts. One of the most widely available and potentially lucrative routes is through entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is a dirty word for many MBA candidates. Synonymous with extreme financial distress, entrepreneurship for many MBAs is a deep chasm of despair, particularly considering the high debt load that most MBAs have post-graduation. These attitudes and misconceptions have hurt MBA grads instead of helping them. Our dynamic economy not only affords MBAs the opportunity to employ their skills but also to become the pioneers and innovators who will set a precedent for all future MBA candidates as shining examples of business leaders.

Indeed, in examining the innumerable case studies that comprise MBA courses, a significant number of high profile companies were started by bright, non-MBA accredited individuals with a passion to achieve their dreams and turn them into reality. From Bill Gates to Mark Zuckerberg, the business world rewards increasingly on the basis of success and not by the number of designations that an individual possesses. One could argue that the increasing dynamism of business today makes acquiring designations a losing game as knowledge and processes are revolutionized at lightning speeds.

Another facet that today's dynamic business environment has changed is the employer-employee relationship that is no longer as enduring as it once was. Employers have realized that benefits such as subsidized pensions and free health insurance are burdensome and a misuse of resources. Corporations are increasingly extricating themselves from similar situations, forcing employees to adapt.

Employees are now expected to make multiple career changes and the benefits that today's employees receive are dramatically scaled back. In addition, employees must now manage not only their job responsibilities but their own retirement and health financing.

In many respects, employees are treated as mini-corporations. Nowadays, the employer-employee relationship is merely a contractual agreement between two parties that can be terminated by either party. This in many respects has pushed more employees into pseudo-entrepreneur roles, without their knowledge. If this is the transformation occurring with the employer-employee relationship, one must ask the question: why pursue a pseudo-entrepreneurship role when you can pursue one in totality?

Unfortunately, there are many obstacles when considering taking the entrepreneurial plunge to achieve career satisfaction. These range from the difficulty in finding the 'right idea' to the mounting government bureaucracy. While these pose significant risks the reality of being another corporate drone is just as difficult and unpredictable. Whether it is management incompetence or inflexible human resources policies, the corporate world is just as difficult and brimming with minefields as choosing to be an entrepreneur.

Job security is frequently cited as one of the biggest benefits for working for a major corporation but one that is rapidly disappearing. No position is safe any longer from the dangers of a dynamic and increasingly unpredictable economy. CEOs are terminated in mere months if they fail to perform, middle managers are being downsized into an extinct species and low level workers are being made obsolete either through technology. Even if one were to survive these unpredictable machinations, the financial returns are not worth it.

Even those looking to leave a lasting corporate legacy are finding few opportunities to pursue such goals. Individuals are increasingly treated like drones, assigned some random employee number and buried under paperwork like thousands of other drones. Many entrepreneurs view the creation and running of their own business not only in terms of the financial benefit, but also for the intangible benefits that come from being their own boss.

How many corporate workers can state they have revolutionized the automotive industry like Henry Ford, or the computer industry like Bill Gates? Very few individuals, if any at all can make such bold proclamations. Industry innovators tend to reside outside the system and use the thrill of living on the edge and the lure of rebellion to propel themselves into becoming leading industry game changers. Entrepreneurs leave a legacy that is not only hard to replace but one that can shape the destiny of millions of people for years to come.

While MBA graduates need to pursue careers that they are personally comfortable with, they must recognize that the line between entrepreneurship and corporate positions is blurring. MBA graduates should consider entrepreneurship as the "new" way to demonstrate their abilities in this dynamic economy. Not only would the economy be richer with their efforts, MBA graduates may find enhanced satisfaction as well.

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