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I am a 21 years of age and I am graduating with a degree in Economics this May. My father invested in a granite counter top business while I was in school and for about 2 years now, I've known that want to take over and run the business instead of my other plans. I probably won't run it for at least another 10 years so I was considering getting an MBA. Are there any contractor's on the forum with an MBA? How useful has it been for you? Is it worth the cost of tuition? Thank you.
 

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No formal MBA schooling here but wish that I had. If you can afford to go I would. You can learn the granite side to the business (if you don't already know it) on the side.
For me coming from the trades the business side of construction has been the most challenging, and fulfilling.
When I started out the I never paid much attention to the business stuff, you will be well ahead of most of your competition. Just be sure to get enough hands on in the field training so you know the whole business.
 

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Nest Home Improvement
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Many critics have pointed to MBA's (these supposedly smart individuals) that have significantly contributed to the business strategies (and lack of ethics) that have put us in our current economic crisis.

You can receive an education on what will matter most for you and your granite business but don't necessarily need to go to Business school.

-Learn the entire granite business by doing every job from the receptionist to the installer.
-Go to trade shows and conferences.
-Study best practices from around the country.
-Find someone locally that can serve as mentor/adviser
-Learn how to read financial statements

I am pro-education, I have a Masters degree however not an MBA. However, there is much to learn that is not included in B-school.
 

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G.C.
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I am a 21 years of age and I am graduating with a degree in Economics this May. My father invested in a granite counter top business while I was in school and for about 2 years now, I've known that want to take over and run the business instead of my other plans. I probably won't run it for at least another 10 years so I was considering getting an MBA. Are there any contractor's on the forum with an MBA? How useful has it been for you? Is it worth the cost of tuition? Thank you.
1. An MBA won't help much with a small contracting business. It may hurt because "street smarts" are more important than "book smarts" in a small business. MBA's from diploma mills like the University of Phoenix just take your money while offering high school level courses.

2. Don't work at a family business! Follow your "other plans." Do your own thing. Follow your own dreams. Be confident you made a success on your own. Family businesses are a place of financial tyranny. You do not want to be there. Families and business where never meant to go together no matter what anyone says here.

You are young. You have time to make your own may.
 

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Dave from Macatawa
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do the math on what is the cost of the MBA. are you going to take on debt, how much? What will be your earnings while you get the MBA.
You know how to put his on a spread sheet, I am sure.

Then look at the family business. Can you make it grow and by how much in the same period you are getting the MBA?
 

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If you have the time and money get your MBA. While I agree that you must have "street smarts" this alone does not equal success. The biggest mistake made by most tradesman is they forget they own a business and must be a businessman first. The MBA will be one of the best investments you will make. Should you decide you don't want to run your own company it will be very useful in finding employment in most companies. Anybody saying an MBA will not help with a small business is greatly misinformed and probably not entitled to an opinion on the matter.

That said you do need to learn both ends of the business. Arguments about ethics or morals are not valid. You either have these or you do not. Education will not remove or instill these values in you. Remember this when someone tells you not to further educate yourself: Knowledge is power. The only reason someone would tell you to not educate yourself as much as possible is in order to retain power over you.
 

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G.C.
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An MBA is not worth getting unless your “other plans” include working for a medium, or large company, or teaching. An MBA is primarily a program that teaches someone how to work within a medium or large company and its bureaucracy. It teaches you to manage things only found there. Most programs offer little for entrepreneurs or small businesses.

An MBA could be worse for someone running a small company for a couple reasons. One, MBA students often come out with the thinking their book learning is better than actual experience. Their heads are filled with principles and formulas that don’t work and it takes years to reprogram all the crap. Second, the cost of getting an MBA is significant. At a good school the price is around 60K. USC’s Executive MBA cost 100k. If you spent less and go the diploma mill route, like Phoenix University, you still have to spend a significant amount in time and money, learned little and good medium to large companies will not think highly of the degree, (you will be able to tell everyone you have an MBA if that is important).


Small businesses are successful more because of common sense, a willingness to work hard and put in a lot of hours, good personal finances, and luck. You don’t learn that with an MBA.

Both of my grandfathers started and ran their own company’s. One sold his when he retired the other’s company is operating today and is a multi-million dollar company. My father and uncle started and ran their own business. Two of my brothers started and run their own separate businesses. I own my own business. My grandfathers did NOT have a high school education. My father and uncle just had a high school education. They all did well base on the things mentioned above.

I have a Bachelors Degree in Business. When I went to school only a few of my professors had real world business experience. Even less had entrepreneurial experience or any small business experience. For the most part they taught the latest fad in managing medium to large companies. The bachelor’s degree was good because in taught some basic business principles and it taught you to be disciplined in life by sticking to it.

Education is good but, when you go for an advanced degree the cost/benefit has to be considered more carefully. If you’re going to teach or work in a larger company an MBA is good. If not than its not.

Also, with all the people in my family that own their company’s I can confidently recommend that family’s SHOULD NOT be in business together. The problems are just as much if the company is successful as if it is not successful. I highly recommend you DO NOT go to work in a family business. You are young and will have more confidence making your own way and following your other plans.


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Structural Engineer
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Prior to venturing out on my own, I worked for a large multinational corporation. They basically paid for the bulk of my MBA, because it was a career track. As the time grew near to my plant's closure (we knew for 2 years), I got the urge to venture out on my own. I let them know my intentions, and I stopped asking for reimbursements for the degree. I finished the degree the same year the plant closed, and the hung the shingle out there on my own.

I can say without a doubt, the MBA degree - that piece of paper - has meant absolutely nothing to my business, clients, or success. The knowledge, however, has been valuable. Coming from an industrial construction background, the accounting, systems management, marketing, and legal/contract knowledge was a great set of tools picked up in a relatively short period of time. But you can learn that all in any library (but it might take you a lot longer), or from just putting miles under your feet. And like I said, that piece of paper really hasn't opened any doors. It really hasn't mattered.

If you think you're going to be in the family business from now until the long dirt nap, save the money and buy some books and read them. If you think you're going to go out and work for someone else, yeah, maybe go get it. But I don't think an MBA is going to turn you into Warren Buffett. Put it this way, Pete Marchetto never went and got an MBA, and he's doing ok.

The idea of a degree in construction management is spot on. You might even be able to get a fast track certificate. There's a college in my state that has a 9 month certificate program, and it's geared towards the folks that manage projects where the shovel meets the dirt. We call it the office trailer admissions ticket - it does a good job of getting you out of the field and into the office trailer. Nothing fancy, no degrees, just good knowledge and best practices for doing construction projects in a professional manner.
 

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Definitely get the MBA... if the business falls through, your chances of getting a great position with another company are significantly higher than someone without an MBA
 

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There really is no way to answer your question, it depends on the type of person you are. Many of us on here have no formal education, but hit the ground running at 17 and built something up we could be proud of by our 40's. GMOD
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for the input everybody. There a lot of things mentioned here that I didn't think about or realize. Such as the fact that MBA's are more suited for mid scale or large businesses like Eagleandbaby mentioned. Also, I never looked into a degree in Construction Management because that actual process of installing a kitchen, vanity top, bar top, etc. is relatively small. I'll keep the idea of an MBA in the back of my mind but what I think is best is to graduate and like Carolinahandyman suggested, learn the ins and out of the business. With knowing exactly what goes into running the business, I'll be better suited to judge what will and will not help me in the long run. Thanks again everybody. The input is very much appreciated.
 

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Like the old saying goes. It ain't what you know it's who you know. I have meet so many guys who have had qualifications coming out of their ears and work in a place where me the so called "Thicko" works earning the same money. All my stupid mates who didn't learn anything have some of the best jobs but only due to them knowing someone who got them a job.

As an example

Mate 1 failed all exams and now earns over $300k a year working in investment banking
Mate 2 Thick also Earns over $250k a year in commodities market
Mate 3 Was about as cleaver as me. Earns $200k+ a year working the stock market for RBS
Mate 4 Party animal thicko About to take over a construction company that turns over 10+ million a year.

All these guys got handed their jobs and all my cleaver mates are out of work and over qualified for every job they apply for.

But it's a choice you have to make and no one else can tell you how to plan your life.
 

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wannabe
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No one ever suffered from an education....you may or may not get the financial rewards to offset the time you spend learning.

I got my education only to work for a construction company, I liked it and stayed. Did I need to waste the money, probably not, but my experiences didn't hurt me and has given me an edge.

I dropped out after 5 1/2 years...my only regret is not having that piece of paper. Where will you be in 2 years? working for your dad, or working for your dad with an MBA...
 
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