All Talk and No Action Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Entrepreneurs and the impact they can have on any society has always interested me.

Many people I know of plan to get into some business of their own in future. Also there is no dearth of ideas today. Some are sound and practical. Others, a little over the top. However, it’s nice and encouraging to be living in an age which is brimming with optimism and action.

Most studies and learned men tell us that India needs entrepreneurial spirit and ventures if it has to succeed and carve a niche for itself. The various problems that plague our country cannot be left to be solved by the government. Active participation by the masses is required if we want more employment and wealth creation.

Now most of these young people including myself who plan to be a part of this change also plan to do our Masters in Business Administration.

Every year hordes of people pass out of management institutes armed with world class degrees. There is no stopping them once they are armed with such fancy degrees.

However, here comes the confusing or rather, the eye opening part.

Most people that feature in Forbes/HBS/ BusinessWeek lists’ of successful entrepreneurs do not have any formal management degrees. In fact many of them have had no formal education at all !

Also, those who have had sound education – their degrees have varied from law to physics to fine arts to history!

Famous Indian entrepreneurs like Sunil Mittal, Kiran Shaw, P.P. Chabbria, Laxmi Mittal and many more have had no formal background in “How to do business”.

I for one also believe that a management course makes good “Managers” rather than leaders/entrepreneurs. The course makes one analyse/follow processes/think in a structured way.

Yes, an MBA opens doors for you, helps build a fabulous network and provides the “first push” required. However, a degree alone cannot predict the course of your future !

Many studies have shown that most MBAs from world renowned institutes do not venture into businesses. A few who do, generally stick to tried and tested business models. They rarely come up with path breaking ideas. Can this be blamed on to their education?

Successful businesses not only require processes and systems but also creativity and resilience. They require risk taking ability and venturing into dangerous waters. One needs to make very good use of intuition to juggle out of problems. You might know all the facts and figures and have ready analysis – however, it is your gut feel and belief in your idea that shall sail you through.

Most important – one requires belief and self confidence. A will to succeed and perform. Alas, these cannot be taught even by the best universities in the world.

Now, this brings me back to square one – how much importance should be accorded to a management education?

And more importantly, which way is India headed?


Shyam said...

Well this is really interesting, had been thinking about this myself when in campus...why is it that most of the students from good b-schools in India dont go for their own start with thye go for a good education so that they have a safety cushion and that they learn more about the industry, but after doing that they are somehow caught in a comfort/caution zone where they have lots to loose if they fail and so are no longer daring enough to take the the biggest blessing thehy sought so far actually turns into a curse as far as going the solo way is concerned

Mr BS said...

I think more than half of the students end take up giving CAT and doing MBA is...because that's the "fad" these things..In the 90's it was like every other student wanted to do engg or medicine just because that was the "in thing" then....Now having a bachelors degree isn't considered good enuf and people opt to go for some post-graduation course..and for most of them it's MBA...
And when you often see articles in all the leading newspapers and websites about some lucky fella from IIM / ISB etc getting paid in $'s, then they see more reasons for doing such a course..

I know of hundreds of mech and civil enggs who are working in the software industry..doing something totally unrelated to what they studied or what they might have wanted to do when they had enrolled for such a course...

As far as students who have the urge to be entrepreneurs and do MBA, one of the reasons as Shyam has mentioned above is that once you start earning big bucks, you get into a comfort zone and then are not ready to take that many risks.
Also one of the other factors might be the time you complete your MBA, probably you are at the right (or almost the right) age to get married and then taking risks is not a very attractive proposition. You don't get the necessary amount of encouragement from your family and friends etc which matter a lot in the Indian society.
Also as you pointed out, I think any course would only help you as much as you want it to...
As with most things in life...At the end of the day, it's the individual, their attitude and urge to follow their passion, that matters and not the lack or excess of degrees earned by him.

As a final point, I remember one of my friends getting a call from one of the foremost B schools in India and in the interview he was asked why he wanted to do MBA and he said he wanted to be a entrepreneur (which was indeed true) and they replied "probably you have come to the wrong place. we train students to be managers, people who manage large teams and do such things well, and not entrepreneurs" and that was the end of that!

india unbound said...

We need to open up our higher education sector if we want to improve the quality of our human resource.

According to a NASSCOM study only 25 % of MBAs and Engineers who graduate from more than 750 B Schools and thousands of Engineering Colleges in the country are employable.

The best of IIMs are not even in top 50 or 100 globally.

It is a pity that we liberalised economy in 1991 but not the education sector.

I agree that MBA is not necessary to be an enterpreneur as Henry Ford, Dhirubhai and others did not go to any B School. But on the other hand we have Stanford University which still is the engine that keeps the silicon valley running.

B Schools in India which are located in far fetched areas should see an oppurtunity in their isolation and remoteness and strive to create a Silicon valley of their own.

JD said...

I think the war of leader and manager . busineesman and business manager will continue like this

but this is a universal law. You cant expect everyone to be a businessman,; you need a robust process control and operations to implement it . for that thing we need classical management course to get things done.

Most of the times leadership and entreprenual skills are exhibited by a manager at a lower level also.

the urgument is just like brick is better or wall?

every brick has an improtance and there we need standard format which makes the bricks same again and again there a B school approach comes.
but the qulaity of soil makes it strong or fragile.

So people who will admire the quality of soil will remain in the soil only and those who becomes brick they cosnutruct the wall

At least they can fight with Stones( Natuaral leader) if soil make her process to make a brick

All Talk and No Action said...

@Shyam -
True, most people can't come out of the safety and comfort cocoon. But we can then also view it as that these people were probably never meant to be entrepreneurs. Calculated risk taking and constant challenging of oneself are hallmarks if entrepreneurs.

Very well said. Again, as you have given an example of your friend - such things happen in most top tier B schools. The only good trend that has just begun is that IIM-A & ISB have now started supporting entrepreneurs and giving them an option of sitting for placements 1 year after they have graduated and have not been successful with their entrepreneurial ideas/ventures. Hopefully, others shall follow suit.

@IndiaUnbound -
Well observed. However, as far as institutions like Stanford are concerned, yes, they are breeding grounds for entrepreneurs. However, what we need to assess is how much % of a class gets into entrepreneurship. Closer home, NITs and IITs have funds and incubation centers to fund student ideas. Yet, how many of these ideas cross the start up phase and how many students have the inclination to pursue their ideas after they pass out?

@JD -
Err, I think I just lost track of what you are trying to convey :-)

Dhawal Shah said...

Yeah, something really to comment on.

I have heard this 100s of times,

I will start something, WHEN, someday?

This is just not the right time, WHY

I need finance, education.

I need the right opportunity.

Will my business provide security.

I have parents to take care of.

I cant start my business becuse of millions of reasons.

WHat BS.

Entrepreneurs make the most of now.

Narayan Murthy didnt have money, time, resources but he still made the bold decision and jumped into the waters.

Entrepreneurship is like swimming. You cant learn by reading or dreaming, but by actually jumping into the waters.

So I guess ONE should just STOP talking and ACTION on it.

It is human to have fears, no question about it. I too had it, but you just got to do it. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs made it because of the adversity, not simply coz of the opportunity.

When the stakes are you, you walk through walls. all you need is faith which calms you and passion that drives you.

Did the movies, Aviator (hollywood) and Guru (bollywood) only entertain you, didnt they inspire you.

BTW, My new venture is attracting 1 Lakh of positive cash flow, monthly lesser than projections, but definitely worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

Dear India Unbound,

No disrespect, but Stop giving stats that dont make sense.

Let me explain, IIMs are what they are because of the high quality students and rigourous study processes.

Other BSchools are more practical education oriented.

I think I need an MBA after your wise comments.


All Talk and No Action said...

Thanks for your motivational comments. I agree with them all.
Also, a nice way to promote your venture! Free publicity....

Thanks for ur inputs. However, I agree w Vikas here. Most Indian Grads are not "Market Ready"! This explains the huge amounts spent on "training" by recruiters...

india unbound said...


I agree with you that high quality students are the main reason for the enviable position of IIMs in Indian B School sector.

And what exactly do you mean by "other B Schools". Have you clubbed ISB and Totaram School of Management in one category?

And would you also care to explain how stats given by me are irrelevant in the context of the topic?

PS: Anyways I am happy that my comments helped you in making an important decision in your life.