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MBA Essay Advice for Entrepreneurs

Posted January 09, 2019 by Stacy Blackman - Author and President - Stacy Blackman Consulting

Business schools have always prepared students to launch and manage their own businesses. But over the last decade, the number of courses, centers and contests dedicated exclusively to entrepreneurship has mushroomed. When it comes to the MBA application, though, many entrepreneurs feel unsure of the best way to convey their unconventional background. If that sounds familiar, check out this MBA essay advice for entrepreneurs recently shared by Mark Skoskiewicz in Business Because.

Skoskiewicz received his MBA from Kellogg School of Management, and is the founder of test prep company MyGuru. He thinks applicants should focus on including four specific things in their applications.

Show How B-School Will Fill in the Gaps

Many entrepreneurs have failed at getting their business idea off the ground because they didn’t have the tools in their arsenal that they would have learned at business school.

B-school has become the safe place to test out your most creative, outrageous and ambitious ideas without the pressure and fear of failure. It also offers students the chance to refine their business models to nail it next time out in the real world, when the stakes are much higher.

“Your admissions essays should demonstrate that you see the value of building a well-rounded intellectual toolkit to help you build your business,” Skoskiewicz writes. “If there are clearly particular skills or concepts you know you’ll need but which your background lacks, highlighting these specific gaps will create a powerful story.”

Convince the Admissions Committee of Your Thirst for Experiential Learning

These days, top business schools place a lot of emphasis on experiential learning. This hands-on approach to learning undoubtedly benefits those with an entrepreneurial spirit. It also aids generalists who enjoy working in groups and want to learn how to get things done. Unlike the lecture and case method approach, experiential learning encourages students to learn by doing.

“Most MBA programs encourage this type of learning, and you’ll be well served to highlight your interest in learning in this way as part of your rationale for wanting to get an MBA,” he advises.

Don't Get Bogged Down with One Very Specific Entrepreneurial Idea

“Business school can be a powerful platform for articulating ideas to others and getting feedback. So, I think talking about the actual ideas you have and about how you’ll test them in school is a great strategy. But spending too much time talking about a specific idea becomes dangerous,” Skoskiewicz counsels.

“Admissions committees are interested in understanding how an MBA fits into your career plans and what you’ll bring to the community. You shouldn’t waste too much time describing details of specific ideas. This takes space away from describing the ways in which MBA school will help you pursue the idea,” he adds.

A Stacy Blackman Consulting Case Study

After already having gone through two admissions cycles with nothing but dings, Miles came to Stacy Blackman Consulting to take his applications and admissions material to the next level. His prior applications had completely left out his entrepreneurial venture because he did not feel comfortable describing a business that brought in just a couple thousand dollars a month.

While his venture had not grown significantly, it was a legitimate company with employees, partners, customers, a website and more. In fact, in launching and developing his business, Miles showed a lot of initiative, focus, creativity, vision and drive. He told a great story about how his interest in the business developed. He also discussed many of the challenges he had encountered and overcome along the way. While the business was growing slowly, it was growing, and he was learning a ton.

Ultimately, the fact that he still needed business training was clear through his story and tied very nicely with why he needed an MBA.

His new application presented a very focused picture of an unconventional person quite ready for business school. Miles had a lot to learn from and contribute to an MBA program.

Show You Can Be a Team Player

Entrepreneurial success requires teamwork and strong business relationships. Your network of classmates can advise on various areas. Plus, seasoned professors can weigh in on business dilemmas as you build a plan. In fact, good relationships with your professors can translate into a lifelong pipeline of talent connecting graduates with current MBA students.

“Business school is certainly a good place to network with people who share an interest in building companies,” says Skoskiewicz. “Talking about networking and team-building as a rationale for wanting to pursue entrepreneurship while in an MBA program makes sense.”

So heed this MBA essay advice for entrepreneurs. If you do, you’ll stand a good chance of persuading the admissions committee to take a closer look at you.

This article was originally published on the Stacy Blackman Consulting blog.

Stacy Blackman HeadshotStacy Blackman is the author of  The MBA Application Roadmap and the president of Stacy Blackman Consulting.