The old notion that professionals with business school degrees only work at large multi-national companies is dead and gone. These days many business school graduates are opting for opportunities with small businesses. These companies are actively recruiting business school graduates for prominent positions in their businesses so they can take advantage of the skills these professionals possess.
The Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) Corporate Recruiter’s survey found that 79 percent of companies planned to hire recent MBAs. This number is up from the previous year when 72 percent said they planned to hire professionals with a business school degree.
While these statistics represent companies of varying sizes, small businesses – those with fewer than 1,000 employees – are the leading cause of this growth in MBA hires. Research shows that, compared to last year, this year 32 percent more small companies plan to hire a person with a Master’s in management or other specialized business master’s degree. The hiring boom is not solely exclusive to management professionals. Twenty-seven percent said they planned to hire a Master’s of accounting graduate and 20 percent more said they intended to hire professionals with MBAs. The GMAC’s research surveyed 1,096 recruiters at more than 800 companies in 40 countries.
So what is behind the growing interest in professionals with business school degrees? For small businesses, it is an understanding that these professionals possess unique skill sets not found in general work force applicants. Furthermore, many small businesses have come to understand that if they are to reach the next level, they need talented professionals with business degrees working for them.
7 Key Skills Business School Graduates Should Possess
Here are some of the skill sets business school graduates possess that make them attractive to small businesses.
1. Business school graduates are ready for today’s economy.
The idea that business schools only teach one kind of thinking, or prepare their graduates to work only in massive companies, is not accurate. The world economy has shifted dramatically in the last 20 years, and today’s business schools have altered their curriculum in response. For example, the Harvard Business School’s entrepreneurship faculty is now second in size only to its finance faculty, and the Forbes™ School of Business at the University of Arizona Global Campus offers degree specializations in global management, organizational leadership, and business intelligence. Students who obtain their MBA in today’s market understand that the world of business is fluid, and these educational paths expand a graduate’s experiences while preparing them for the demands of business in the 21st Century.
2. Business school graduates are experienced.
When small businesses invest in an MBA professional, they know they are getting an individual who brings a unique mix of classroom education and real-world experience to their company. Many MBA graduates already possess professional experience and went for their business school degree in order to advance their career. This experience remains one of the most attractive elements of business school graduates because it is seldom found in general applicants. The benefit small businesses enjoy when hiring business school graduates is immediate because these professionals can hit the ground running and be instant contributors to their workplace without a lengthy on-boarding process.
3. Business school graduates possess coveted knowledge.
You’ve seen why small businesses covet real-world experience, and the knowledge these graduates possess is just as important. The knowledge MBA graduates gain in business school provides them with an understanding of the essential roots of business and how the business world works. Upon being hired, business school graduates are then able to translate that knowledge into real-world application for their small business. This knowledge can be used to create a company’s budgets, business plans, cost-benefit analyses, or marketing campaigns.
4. Business school graduates are problem solvers.
One of the biggest strengths unique to small businesses is their ability to solve problems quickly and efficiently when compared to their larger corporate competitors. The online college education obtained at business schools like the Forbes™ School of Business at the University of Arizona Global Campus empowers business school graduates with a skill set of best practices in problem-solving. In addition, their experience allows them to look at existing problems with a fresh eye, offering suggestions and instituting improvements for the betterment of the company.
5. Business school graduates can multi-task.
Small businesses know better than most that their successful operation requires all staff members to wear several hats. MBA candidates have been trained to recognize tasks that can be appropriately partnered together, and they are able to work efficiently at accomplishing tasks successfully and as soon as possible. While larger companies may worry that a given role does not provide enough challenge for a business school graduate, small companies will benefit from the expediency MBA graduates possess.
6. Business school graduates are self-disciplined.
Veterans of the professional world know that earning a business school degree is hard work, and that only the most dedicated individuals accomplish this feat. While business school students are learning the skills they will take into the world of business, they are also learning the self-discipline necessary to accomplish the task of getting their degree. Discipline and dedication are traits business school graduates carry with them into their professional lives, and both traits make them a perfect fit for the growing demands of small businesses.
7. Business school graduates are leaders.
MBA graduates land in leadership positions in companies big and small because they have learned leadership skills as part of their curriculum in business school. These professionals have the skills necessary to influence teams and have a lasting positive impact on the small businesses that hire them.
Starting Up Your Own Small Business
If you see yourself on the other side of the spectrum and consider yourself to be more entrepreneurial, launching your own small business is something that business school graduates can also strive to do. If you have a dream of starting your own business and are eager to lay down your own rules, you probably also know that reaching that dream comes with a lot of obstacles. Nothing happens by itself or overnight, so you need to make sure to allow time to set the foundation, including considering many different questions about this undertaking.
Consider whether you want to be your own boss or prefer being held accountable by someone else. Think about the products or services you want to offer consumers: are you passionate about them? Have you done consumer research? If your answers to these and many others lean toward yes, then you’re on your way!
Beyond these more soul-searching questions, you’ll need to think about some of the more tactical and tangible angles to your new business. You’ll need to understand your customer demographic, where your office or building will be located, and the legal structure of your business. You should also be aware of your finances and accounting practices, and, if you’re going to have employees, you should brush up on the human resource matters in your state.
All of these high-level items can be further developed in a detailed business plan. While there are many templates, your basic plan should at least have a vision and mission, product or service description, an overview of who (management) and how (operations) things will be run, and plans for marketing and finances. It may also be valuable to create a personal SWOT analysis so you can identify the areas where reinforcements, such as mentors or consultants, will be needed.
In regard to mentors and consultants, the company Upstart is prepared to provide assistance. Started by former Google employees, Upstart works to pair investors with students. The investors can fund starting as low as $100 and will receive money back from the student’s income over the following 10 years. The investors can also become mentors to help students achieve their goals. For Upstart, you fund the person, not the project, and encourage their success. It’s another unique approach to give students excelling in college the chance to continue growing after graduation with the funding and guidance they need to succeed.
Business leaders know one of the keys to turning a small business into a large business is to hire the right people. More small businesses are finding business school graduates to be top candidates for open positions because of the varied skill sets they possess. These companies realize that having MBA graduates on their staff presents an efficient way to grow their company for the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow’s business world. Additionally, launching your own small business can be a challenging yet rewarding opportunity for many business graduates, and is something to consider if you see yourself as being entrepreneurial.
Learn more about the Forbes School of Business and Technology and how you can advance your business education.