You’re Never Too Old to Go Back to School (Especially if You Want to Launch a Business)

You’ve been in the same role at the same business for most of your career – which is a good 10 years longer than you’d care to admit. What’s more, you have a business idea, and you are committed to carrying it through to launch. Since you have so much business experience under your belt, you are a shoo-in for business success – right?

Actually, maybe not. Regardless of how long you have worked in industry, if you don’t have the right business experience – i.e. upper-level management experience – you probably won’t know how to run your own business successfully. Fortunately, there is a path you can take to prepare you for entrepreneurship: going back to school to earn your MBA.

Adult back to school

It doesn’t matter whether you have been working for five years or 50, you are never too old to return to school for credentials that will enhance your career. Here’s why you should get over your self-deprecating ageism and apply to MBA programs.

There Isn’t a Perfect Age for an MBA

Undoubtedly, you have already uncovered the great dispute between MBA-holders and non-MBA-holders. The latter fervently argue that MBAs are not necessary for any type of business success – and they are right: If you have decades of time to waste in industry clawing your way to the top, you will eventually organically learn everything you might otherwise learn in an MBA classroom.

However, MBA-holders typically find that their careers are accelerated thanks to their degree, which means greater success sooner. Indeed, Financial Times found that MBAs still have a dramatic effect on workers’ salaries, improving earning potential roughly 100 percent in just a few years after graduation.

Though younger MBA-seekers have more time left in their careers to utilize their degrees, older MBA students have more real-world experience to capitalize on during their studies. Thus, there is no perfect age for earning an MBA; everyone benefits.

There Are Benefits to Returning to School After a Significant Gap

MBA programs typically don’t like students who hop straight from undergrad into graduate business courses. This is because students have almost no real-world knowledge and skill to build upon during their studies, and they will have little to contribute to their courses. Even worse, students who do not have any gap between undergrad and graduate school typically don’t know what they want out of their advanced studies; they are merely delaying the frightening prospect of the job market with further education.

Non-traditional students – i.e. those with larger gaps of time between bachelor’s and master’s degrees – thrive in MBA programs for just these reasons: They know what the real world is like, and they know exactly how an MBA will improve their careers. For you, this might be giving you greater management knowledge to increase your success running your own business, but it might also be providing a prestigious parachute to ensure employment should your entrepreneurial dreams fall flat.

MBA programs tend to entice older students with enviable perks; for example, you can apply for many online MBA programs with no GMAT score thanks to your extensive business experience. You might also be able to leverage your existing professional network to gain preferential admissions treatment from top schools. You shouldn’t be embarrassed by your work history; you should use it to your advantage as you would any other enviable trait or skill.

Dedication to learning

With More Preparation Comes Greater Success

Business is full of risk, and brand-new businesses launched by greenhorn entrepreneurs are the riskiest of all. As the business leader, your job is to reduce risk as much as possible, and the best way to do that is through preparation. Specifically, you shouldn’t be afraid of arming yourself with as much business knowledge and skill as possible before you dive into running your own small business, and the best place to gain knowledge and skill quickly and thoroughly is in school.

MBA programs are designed to produce business leaders, and leadership experience is likely what you are most lacking in your career. In launching a small business, time is usually of the essence, which means you should start looking for worthwhile MBA programs now. The more time you waste not improving yourself for entrepreneurship, the less chance your future business has for success – so you should stop worrying about your age and enroll in an MBA today.