Should I do research or be an entrepreneur?

<p>An unusual choice, but let me explain.</p>

<p>I come from an entrepreneurial family, have worked at many startups, and love business. However, I'm also nerdy and love to read, write, and research. I've never run a company on my own, though, so I'm not confident in my ability to be an entrepreneur by myself. </p>

<p>Perhaps I wasn't supposed to, but I applied both to MBA programs and PhDs in business. I got into two top schools (think H/S/W/Kellogg/etc.) one in each. (No, I'm not a troll, this is all true. I applied to a bunch of schools, but only got into one of each kind.) </p>

<p>I know that these two types of degrees lead to very different careers and so forth -- I've really done a lot of reading on this. What I have trouble with is just deciding which part of me to encourage with higher education. I mean, you can start a business without an MBA, but you can't teach without a PhD. </p>

<p>Decision points:
- MBA costs $150k. PhD would be free with stipend.
- MBA leads to very high paying jobs. PhD leads to academia, not as high paying. Although perhaps I could do consulting afterwards.
- Physical location for both places, while quite different, are both acceptable.
- MBA is 2 years. PhD is 3/4 years (this is a special program, I don't want to explain or it will be too identifiable)
- I like the life of the mind, but I also like to be practical and accomplish things.
- I like to make my own schedule and hate suits and ties and corporate bs.
- I like travel, languages, design, and other areas that don't really have to do with either. Are they both bad choices? Is my indecision a sign that I should turn down both, wander around for a while, and look for something else?
- I'm really not 100% sure about either of them, to be honest. But I know that you're never 100% sure, and I'm afraid of being at loose ends while I figure it out.</p>

<p>Any insights?</p>

<p>PhD.</p>

<p>You can always go back and get an MBA later in life or part-time (and will probably get more out of it if you do).</p>

<p>I don't believe you are accepted to a PhD program such as what you suggest. I am a b school professor, centrally involved in my profession for several decades. </p>

<p>Speciality program of 3/4 years? I can think of no such program- are you saying 3/4 on the books? Most schools say 4 so how is it a specialty? And, as you would surely know by now, the reality is 5-6, depending upon many factors that can't be predicted in advance. </p>

<p>Also no mention of what area- people applying to PhD programs don't apply to business schools they apply to specific fields within a business school.</p>

<p>Any such PHD program of the calibre to which you refer would require you to have research experience and have great letters of rec from faculty yet there is no mention of either of these (which would normally play a strong roll in your calculation). No reference at all to your research specialization. </p>

<p>Why would this be an issue now? Students long ago visited the programs and made their decisions. Some have already moved to get started on their research. </p>

<p>PhDs in academic business schools are very well paying-- start around 150, senior folks around 300. And yes of course you can teach without a PhD (not to mention, if you suggested 'teaching' in your app you'd not have been admitted anyway since htey are training you to do research). . </p>

<p>My guess is you are a kid in highschool trying to sort out what you want to do with your life. You most definitely do not sound like someone at this stage at all. I don't buy it.</p>

<p>Starbright -- why is everyone so skeptical around here? Is it so impossible that I would have research experience and a business background? </p>

<p>No, this is all true. I am not a high school student. I put plenty of disclaimers in there exactly so I could fend off this sort of response. It is indeed a 3/4 year program -- I do not want to name it lest my identity becomes obvious. I appreciate your intention in not encouraging liars and trolls, but I assure you I am not one of them.</p>

<p>Can you please just tell me what you think?</p>

<p>It doesn't have to be a program in the US, Starbright.</p>

<p>I would go for the PhD. Many programs will allow you to take an MBA within the PhD program, so you end up with both. PhDs seem to do OK going into non-academic work anyway.</p>

<p>Also, to address your question about speciality, yes, I do have a specialized field (and methodology), but I did not state it above, again for privacy reasons. I have of course visited both schools. In fact, I have done a Masters' degree at one of the schools already. My issue is that I love both things and I am not sure which to pursue. After all of this, it is a bit insulting to be called a high school student!</p>

<p>Thank you, Sorghum! I appreciate your help... and good point about getting an MBA as well. I'll have to ask the PhD-school if they do that.</p>

<p>I'm no expert, although I do have an MS in information systems which I got at a business school. My personal opinion based on my experience is that an MBA is a pretty useless degree for either of your career choices. The main reason to get an MBA as far as I'm concerned is to advance in an existing company structure, or to get hired into an existing organziation. You don't need any degree to be an entrepreneur, and although you can teach with an MBA, it's pretty much a no-brainer that a free doctorate would be preferable for an aspiring academic. I would think that most people driven to be entrepreneurs would already be out "entrepreneuring" rather than thinking about yet another Master's degree. </p>

<p>And finally, one of the first things I think either an entrepreneur or a PhD would look at is the 150K difference in the bottom line.</p>

<p>By the way, I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt for not being a troll, but silly things like this -

[quote]
hate suits and ties

[/quote]

don't help me to take you seriously. I'm hoping you're speaking metaphorically.</p>

<p>My H went into business for himself and has been very successful. He doesn't have an MBA; he received his PhD from Harvard and taught at Wash U (didn't get tenure). Rather than looking for another teaching position, H decided to go in a different direction. He's never regretted his decision. After watching my H, I think that success as an entrepreneur is based on one's personality and being in the right place at the right time and seizing that opportunity--carpe diem. Yes, you need to be educated, but I don't think having an MBA or a PhD is preparation that's necessary for starting a company/business. H has a friend who was a Baker Scholar at HBS (it's a big deal). He's incredibly bright and he's hardworking and this person has failed at every business he's attempted. H and I were talking about him recently (he was in town and we met him for dinner). Both of us came to the conclusion that our friend has failed because he's very cautious and overthinks everything and is very, very risk adverse. To be in a start-up business, you have to be willing to take risks and you have to be willing to put yourself on the line, e.g., going without income and working 24/7. </p>

<p>What I'm saying is that I agree with the poster #8--entrepreneurs who have great ideas and want to put them into effect don't wait 2, 3, or 4 years until they've finished an MBA or a PhD--they are driven and they go out and do what they're going to do. IMO you seem much more interested/comfortable with academia and the life of the mind--research/writing/publishing. It's a nice life. Go for it!</p>

<p>
[quote]
it doesn't have to be a program in the US, Starbright.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>I thought about that but he wanted us to think in terms of H/W/Kellogg etc. </p>

<p>Way too general, and from the perspective of someone who knows almost nothing about doctoral programs in business. Doesn't answer my questions when asked (e.g. the fact that its already months too late to be asking), absolutely does not at all sound like someone who has done research, worked with faculty...at all...it never came up. He would know its relevance, he would know he could articulate his area at the right level of abstraction to make no threat to his identity but provide useful information, and so on. Moreover, he would not be asking a lot of anonymous parents for their opinion but instead the faculty at the school to which he's been admitted as well as the faculty he has worked with. I also say 'highschool' because any MBA program at the supposed calibre to which he's been admitted would have required work experience and someone who says stuff like "suit and tie" doesn't sound like someone who actually kows a lot about business either. Oh, but wait, supposedly did a masters in the area yet then got into a top calbre MBA program? Say what? And with a masters already at the same school, it would not take another 3/4 years for the PhD..ack, none of this is more than nonsense.</p>

<p>I read 100s of apps every year and been doing this for decades. This person is a troll.</p>

<p>Starbright, I can only say, with the greatest of regret, that perhaps it is you that is the troll. Since my story is true as posted, it is clear that you don't know enough to judge this situation or to respond with kindness and grace. If I do the PhD, I will undoubtedly meet you in person one day, and the joke will be on you.</p>

<p>Trolls are typically brand new posters such as yourself, coming to the parent forum with very general hypothetical situations that just don't add up to those that know better. Last time I checked, I had 1390 and you can read my past posts and judge from the consistency of several years of postings about my background. </p>

<p>Interesting you still avoid answering the questions which would explain how you are not a troll...and instead try to use a red herring. </p>

<p>Please stop wasting people's time and insulting their intelligence.</p>

<p>Starbright, I don't know who (if anyone) moderates these boards, but I feel like this is a clear case of harassment. I could address your questions if I chose -- I could name my recommenders. I could post my name here. I could tell you the names of the schools. But really, I don't see why that is necessary to give a thoughtful, helpful reply to my question. Obviously, I have discussed this with my professors (both my recommenders and my prospective PhD advisor). However, from what I have read, many of the parents here have great advice and some of them have business PhDs, MBAs, or entrepreneurial careers. I thought this would be a helpful addition to my other consultations, especially with people who don't know me and cannot influence my future (so I can be more candid).</p>

<p>Please, other parents, do not let starbright derail this thread. I think he is being incredibly rude and does not do credit to this wonderful board that has helped so many others.</p>

<p>Also, the fact that I am new here is really not a relevant criticism. I logged in to post a question. Of course, I'm new! Do you not accept new members here at collegeconfidential? I see posts by new people all the time.</p>

<p>I think you are hung up on your own authority, embarrassed to even consider that perhaps you have misidentified me, and unsure enough in your own ego to have the grace to admit you might have made a mistake. </p>

<p>In another one of your posts, you decry the lack of maturity and character in American students. I must say that it may have something to do with their teachers.</p>

<p>By the way, thank you bovertine and bromfield. Food for thought, especially about the Baker Scholar.</p>

<p>since this is on the parent's forum:</p>

<p>Our DS with BS, MS eng/cs, would ask how to make spaghetti but would never ask to what should he do -pHd or job or startup company. </p>

<p>by now, 23-25yo, BS and MBA, should realize that life decisions should be yours alone. Personally I don't think you are ready for phD, and need to do some growing up.</p>

<p>Just for everyone else here -- I went to college, worked for a couple of years at tech startups, went back for a research masters (not at the business school) and then applied to both MBA and PhD programs. (The PhD is at the same university where I got the Masters, but not the same department.) I imagine there are thousands of people who have done this. Also, yes, when I say suit and tie, I am using poetic license. I mean that I do not want to pursue a corporate career in a traditional big company.</p>

<p>Many people are at loose ends, most of the time, and only figure it out on their death bed.
You sounds like you are a technoid, where everything must have a reason and a purpose, a path to an end, with only minor turnouts and rest-stops. </p>

<p>
[quote]
But I know that you're never 100% sure, and I'm afraid of being at loose ends while I figure it out.

[/quote]

...would you settle for 51% sure? The Optimist.
...could you settle for 51% unsure, and take the 49% what you're sure about?" The Pessimist.</p>

<p>Just wanted everyone to know that starbright sent me harassing private messages. I reported it to the moderators but have not yet heard back. I am really shocked and dismayed about this forum, and very sad that this has happened.</p>

<p>Unbelievable. I absolutely did not. And hhis kind of post is completely unacceptable.</p>

<p>Hilarious post, thank you! Please direct yourself to "High School Life" for future reference. As to your question, the MBA is more expensive, so it's clearly more valuable -- good luck.</p>