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Starting Your Own Small Business: 11 Points That Everyone With an MBA Degree Should Consider

Businesses thrive and businesses fail. Be sure you’ve factored in these key points before taking on ownership responsibilities.

Founder. President. Owner. CEO. Sole proprietor. These titles may appeal to anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit eager to start a new business. And whether you hold a high school diploma or a doctorate in business, the prospect of business ownership is exciting. You may be familiar with some of these business successes—but they, too, started with small, with the right idea and the right attitude:1

  • Paul Orfalea never thought he could get a job because of his dyslexia. He ended up borrowing $5,000 from a bank and launched a business in his garage—that business was Kinko’s, now owned by FedEx.
  • J.C. Penney lived with his young wife and their baby in an attic above their dry goods store in Wyoming. Today there are more than 650 J.C. Penney’s stores.
  • TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® was a moving business Mary Ellen Sheets helped her sons set up to earn money during high school. When they left for college, the phone kept ringing—and Mary Ellen kept the business running. Today, the company has franchises all over the world.

Of course, not every business idea turns into a thriving enterprise. In fact, more than 30% of businesses close within their first two years and nearly half don’t survive past the first five years.2 So, when you look at the stories behind these and other entrepreneurial successes, remember that a number of important questions undoubtedly played a role. These are some of the same questions you should consider before starting a business.

Starting Your Own Small Business: 11 Points That Everyone With an MBA Degree Should Consider

  1. Commitment: Do you have enough time to create and sustain a business? Will this be a part-time or full-time venture? Are you willing to take risks? Do you have passion and confidence? Are you decisive and creative? Do you need additional education, such as a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA), prior to starting?
  2. Research: Have you done any market research by going online, learning which markets are most successful at the time? You don’t want to go into a business market that is in decline. Pick one that is up-and-coming. Use resources like to see where consumers are being underserved. Consider whether your business will be available at the global level.
  3. Type: In light of the market needs your products or services will meet, is it smarter to purchase a franchise or existing business?
  4. Customers: Who are your customers and why will they buy your product or service? Can you begin with established contacts such as those in your neighborhood, church, or school, and then branch out via social media? Can they afford your services? How long will it take you to convert a prospect to a customer?
  5. Competitors: Who are your competitors? How will you differentiate your business from others? Have you thought through the strengths and weaknesses of your product or service? Will your pricing be competitive?
  6. Location: What kind of space, facility, and resources will the business require? Many small businesses are home-based—is that an option? What about equipment, insurance, and licenses?
  7. Dollars: What funding will you need to start and maintain the business? Be sure not to underestimate. Have you considered businesses with lower start-up costs in the event you’re unable to secure a loan on terms that are reasonable to you? Do you have a banker with whom you are comfortable? If not, finding one and establishing a relationship will be beneficial on many levels, both at the outset and in the long run.
  8. Structure: There are a variety of legal structures available, each with its own advantages. Are you familiar with the differences between a corporation, sole proprietorship, partnership, S corporation, and nonprofit organization? What options do you have for legal advice? By starting your research online and learning about available options, you’ll likely be more cost effective in the event you need to seek counsel.
  9. Goals: Have you written a business plan and established goals? Many online graduate degree programs—from a BS in Business Administration to online DBA programs—position business plans as a roadmap to success. Plan out 3–5 years and make sure your plan is flexible. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel; research business plans for similar businesses that are now thriving.
  10. Marketing: Be deliberate about marketing and branding. If this isn’t your area of expertise, seek out a consultant or small agency. Determine the types of advertising that will suit your needs and reach your customers; the mix will likely include word of mouth, events (including a grand opening, if appropriate), digital advertising (Internet, social media, e-mail marketing), and even traditional advertising (print, TV, radio). Whatever the mix, your online presence—including your website’s visibility, which you can enhance through organic or paid SEO efforts—is critical.
  11. Support: Who will support and guide you? If you’re seeking additional education to enhance your entrepreneurial endeavors, the flexibility and support of an online university may be ideal for you. Do you have a mentor—perhaps someone with an online business degree with a specialization that relates to your business? Your community may have additional resources available, including your local Chamber of Commerce. Asking other business owners for advice is also a great approach.

New businesses often succeed or fail based on how well thought-out they are. That’s why evaluating, researching, and developing your business using these topics as a guide is crucial. Strong planning up front will position you for greater success in the long run.

Whether you want to open a new business, advance your career, or position yourself to receive a promotion at work, earning your master’s in business administration degree is a great start. And online education makes it more convenient than ever to gain the experience and knowledge you need to excel as a business owner or manager. At Walden—an accredited university—you can earn your master’s in business or management from wherever you have internet access. Walden’s online Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program offers the flexibility to take classes at whatever time of day works best for you so that your professional endeavors can flourish alongside your degree plans.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering online Master of Business Administration (MBA), Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), and BS in Business Administration degree programs, as well as a suite of business degrees and certificate programs. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.

1Source: Fred DeLuca and John P. Hayes. Start Small Finish Big. (New York: Warner Books, Inc., 2000)

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,