According to a new survey by venture capital firm Illuminate Ventures, over 85% of current MBAs and applicants say they view entrepreneurship as a current or future career path. The online survey among MBA applicants and current students was carried out between the end of 2019 and mid-2020. It collected responses from more than 500 students from 20 US-based MBA programs. Men who took part in the survey stated a margin of 88% to 80% more likely than women to think about starting their own company or to join a startup.
Most of the MBAs who responded to the survey say they are more immersed in entrepreneurship than immersed in starting their own business. The majority of respondents said they wanted to start their entrepreneurial journeys after the MBA by either joining an early-stage startup or by co-founding a company that did not incorporate their entrepreneurial idea. Most women replied that they would rather start at an early stage, while most men said they would like to start as a co-founder. The least likely place to start for both women and men has been to start a business with an idea of their own that they already have.
Around 48% of men who responded to the survey said they were already involved in entrepreneurship, while only 34% of women said they were currently in some form of entrepreneurship.
Measuring and assessing the differences between men and women was a primary purpose of the survey. Led by Cindy Padnos and Jennifer Savage, Illuminate Ventures is one of the rare women-only venture capital firms.
Resilience and perseverance listed as the most important attribute for entrepreneurship success
There were of course differences between men and women. But there were also many similarities. For example, the greatest motivation for becoming entrepreneurs for both men and women is to bring their ideas to market. The lowest motivating factor for either group was substantial financial gain. MBAs were then asked to rate six attributes of business success. Again, men and women agreed that the most important trait of a successful entrepreneur is resilience and perseverance. The least important attribute? Expertise.
However, there were differences between the attributes in the middle. For example, male MBAs cited the ability to attract a team as the second most important trait for resilience and perseverance. Women, on the other hand, cited the ability to attract a team as the second lowest important attribute, just above domain knowledge. The second most important characteristic for women was access to networks.
In ranking the barriers to business success, women and men were on one side. Both cited financial security concerns as the largest barrier and had a unique idea as the lowest barrier. And both groups named access to capital as the second highest barrier.
IMPACT ON BUSINESS SCHOOLS AND TRAINING FOR FUTURE MBA ENTREPRENEURS
The percentage of MBAs surveyed considering entrepreneurship is remarkably high, even considering an inherent entrepreneurship and venture capital bias, considering the survey was conducted by a venture capital firm. However, the survey results contain some interesting details for business schools and the approach to entrepreneurship education. When asked which data sources they valued most, MBAs put traditional forms of education at the bottom of the list. For example, entrepreneurship clubs, professors, and classroom education programs were listed as the top three lowest data sources that MBAs valued most.
On the other hand, entrepreneurs who met students have been by far the most important sources of data for current and future MBAs. After the entrepreneurs the students met were mentors, websites, and publications.
You can find the full report here.
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