Starting a business is HARD!!

We hadn’t seen each other since graduation. I was creating health apps in India and she started an agriculture business in Latin America. We caught up over dinner and both agreed the decision to start our own businesses were the right ones. It was thrilling and fulfilling, but it wasn’t all roses.

There were the emotional elements, loneliness, at times raw fear, and work-life balance. But the most surprising was the amount of time and effort it took to build the systems, logistics, and infrastructure. When we knew each other before, we both used to sit in front of a screen working on spreadsheets, doing case studies, and problem sets. We had no idea then what really made a business run. They never taught us all that stuff. It is attention to detail, boring, tedious, and time-consuming. But if it goes wrong, the business won’t function, the accounts won’t balance, and the business will literally get out of control.

We told our horror stories and thought the next new thing should be a business in a box. But we knew of colleagues who tried standard system and all complained about their lack of functionality and the difficulty in making any modifications.

If I leave to get an MBA my business will fail; what should I do?

I started my business four years ago and sales are over $4m. We have 43 employees and have made a profit every month for the past 14 months. The market place is growing more competitive, inflation is rising, and the economy looks like it might stall.

I have good people working for me but there is no one who can replace me. I got into INSEAD two years ago and postponed my entry to work on the business. The offer expires this year and I really want to go to get more education, build my networks, and mature. But I know if I leave the business for two years, it will probably fail. It would also be a big risk to bring someone else to run it while I’m away. I only take $40K in salary because of my equity and I can’t get anyone good for that low a salary without giving away more equity, which I don’t want to do.

I have to decide by the end of the month. My parents say I should go, my investors and employees say I need to stay.

Do I need to get an MBA before I start my business?

I’ve been working at a startup for a few years and raised funds for that venture. Now I want to start my own business. I’ve talked to family and friends, who can commit $200K in addition to what I’ve saved.

My uncle thinks I need to get an MBA though and is trying to convince my father of this. I don’t see the point; I have a BE in electrical engineering from a US university and I have startup experience. I am a doer and love the excitement of startups. I’m ready to start my own business.