An MBA Won’t Guarantee You’ll Be Successful In Business. Here’s Why

An MBA Won’t Guarantee You’ll Be Successful In Business. Here’s Why

There are over 4,000 programs in the United States alone. These intuitions are thought to be shaping the best and brightest students for our future.

How to Grow Your Business in a Downturn
How I Handled My First Business Crisis
Avoid These 4 Big Reasons Small Businesses Fail

There are over 4,000 programs in the United States alone. These intuitions are thought to be shaping the best and brightest students for our future. And while many business leaders have come from these programs, I’ve had a lot of people work for me in my 40 year career and I can assure you that the stamp of having an MBA doesn’t make you a success.

I have found that sometimes it’s just better to find someone who’s really smart, really has a desire to succeed and is going to work incredibly hard to go above and beyond what is expected. This group has been unofficially given the moniker “PSDs,” for poor, smart and determined.  

While one does not actually have to be poor, a large number of the up and coming workforce are from families that did not have the money to send them to graduate schools, nor did many of these young men and women have the desire to continue their education in the classroom. Future entrepreneurs often have a burning desire to get into the working world ASAP. In fact, they have plenty of non-MBA role models like Jeff Bezos, Carl Ichan, Howard Schultz of Starbucks fame, and Bill Gates to name a few.

I’m not saying an MBA is a bad thing, it’s not, but it is also not the holy grail of entrepreneurship.

A PSD candidate for a job is usually hungrier because he or she has to prove their worth, without the benefit of the MBA degree opening doors for them. is operating without a safety net. They don’t have a fallback position waiting at dad’s accounting firm or extra funds for a jaunt through Europe when they graduate. They need to make their mark and will stop at nothing to succeed.

As one highly successful PSD realtor, explains, “I grew up in poverty, so my motivating factor was simple; it was desperation.”

Classroom Versus the Real World 

MBA students are smart, but not necessarily well versed in real-world situations.

They can find solutions from similar examples they have studied, but they have not been forced to implement real-world solutions. PSDs have learned a lot by facing real-world adversity. Classroom education can only take you so far, take it from someone who left college after one year to take on the real world. And 40 successful years, running several businesses, I’ve never looked back. 

The reality is that business, especially today, takes on so many forms that no courses could cover the myriad of possibilities. There are companies starting in garages, basements and makeshift offices, and businesses selling products and services globally, some tangible and some virtual.

Technology has also opened up industries that need to constantly reinvent themselves just to keep up with the competition. PSDs are learning more by putting out fires on a daily basis than reading a textbook about putting out fires on a daily basis.

The classroom experience does not prepare most students for the need to act and react quickly. It’s kind of like taking a driver’s education class. No matter how much you learn in the classroom, when you get behind the wheel of the car, everything is so much different – because now it’s real.      


At the end of the day, it comes down to who has the right mindset to help your business the most, the highly paid MBA student or the PSD. Which one do you feel is willing to go the extra mile, stay late, come in early, and do whatever it takes to prove their worth?

The MBA student may come in with the idea that he or she is going to start at the top, so there is no need to work all that hard–they did that already in school getting their MBA. Often, they have determined their value to a company before joining the business. The “you’ll be lucky to have me,” attitude of some MBA graduates may be countered by the, “I’ll prove myself to you, “attitude,” by the PSD.

It’s also worth mentioning that much of what you can learn in MBA programs can now be learned through books written by MBA graduates and professors, as well as business books by so many leading entrepreneurs. These same business success stories also teach courses and can be found on webinars, seminars, TedTalks and other learning platforms. So, those who are hungry for greater knowledge can learn while they are employed.  

My recommendation to business owners is to interview both MBA graduates and PSDs. I look at the long-term picture when I interview people. Is your highly paid MBA graduate going to have one foot out the door looking for something bigger and better two years into their tenure? Is the PSD ready and anxious to show you what they can do? Are they talking about problem solving based on real life experiences?   

PSDs will come in knowing that they will have to earn everything they get. Their expectations are lower, as is their compensation. They must work harder to prove themselves and earn that higher salary.

For this reason, I like to choose the PSD. I’ve seen many accomplish great things.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

This article is from Inc.com

Do You Enjoy This Article?
Sign up for our newsletter and receive FREE access to download SuccessDigest Digital Weekly Edition for attainment of your financial freedom in the new digital economy!

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.


%d bloggers like this: