This month I finished up my last assignments and earned my MBA. While this degree is technically a Masters of Business Administration, I feel that in some ways I learned more about the balloon business than about business as a whole. As an entrepreneur and self-motivated individual, the corporate concentrations of the program frustrated me at times. However, many of the lessons that I learned during school were applicable to the business that I managed, the business that I founded, and the business that I’ve been preparing for the last year.
Was Graduate Business School Worthwhile?
Ultimately, enrolling in the program was a great decision. When I started, I was 22, strictly a balloon artist, and had few other marketable skills. Now, I’m better prepared for the job market not only because of my degree, but because of the business experience that I obtained while working in graduate school. The flexibility of my schedule with night classes allowed me to focus on what was important to me and experiment while still making progress towards my goals.
What Did I Accomplish?
The last two years were two of the most productive of my life. I had previously been a full-time student earning my undergraduate degree, and while that was very important to my future I made less productive use of my time than while I was in graduate school. Since I dedicated about 10-20 hours per week on school at Illinois State, I was able to diversify my skills, start a company, and earn enough money to save up and start a new business in Denver. I taught myself some web design, ultimately designing the Simply Smiles website on my own. Funbelievable Balloons posted record revenue numbers in the two years that I was in charge of the company, and a successful new balloon arch business was formed. I learned how to face paint as well, ultimately tripling the number of services that I can offer to potential customers. Additionally, I learned some technical business skills, blending experience and training to prepare myself for running the company of my dreams.
The Worst Part
Last year, when I was about halfway done with the program, I enrolled in a mandatory statistics class. Now, statistics are hard in any context. In this class in particular, we moved very quickly and had to learn to code our analysis into a very sophisticated program called SAS. At the same time, I was having contractual issues and issues being paid by Funbelievable Balloons, which all combined for a very stressful situation. However, my fiancee was very supportive and encouraged me to push through and keep my eyes on the future when I would be running my own company and have a graduate degree for life.
The Plan Now
I’m moving to Denver in exactly one month. My primary goal is to spend as much time as possible with my friends and family before I leave the Midwest. Additionally, I want to finish up a few projects to be all ready to start the company out strong. Lali and I have substantial savings for our move, to the tune of about 5-6 months of expenses. While it’s tempting to invest some of my cash in the company and start working it full time, it is in both of our best interest to each get a day job while we start things up and save more money. When I arrive in Denver, I anticipate beginning the application process while also canvassing restaurants near our apartment so that we can set up some weekly jobs to start generating cash flows, word-of-mouth, and find new entertainers. We are very excited to come to Denver and start our new lives!