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Entrepreneurialism is a buzzword that conjures up exciting images of innovation, new ideas, creativity, new markets and businesses. Although entrepreneurialism is growing in various areas of the globe, the Middle East region –a hive of innovation and emerging markets− is perfectly positioned to create the next generation of entrepreneurs. In particular, as some governing bodies continue to recognize and value the importance of investing in entrepreneurial endeavors and a general culture that supports the growth of the Middle East for national economic success, business owners and leaders should also look to invest in their own future.
For some, that investment may entail identifying other ways to continue to build their business. For others, it may be more personal in nature: by investing in one’s own education, such as enrolling on a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program to gain the skills and knowledge to be a more effective and successful leader. Whichever path is chosen, entrepreneurs need to develop a range of technical, managerial, financial, decision-making and informational skills in conjunction with interpersonal and other leadership-based competencies in order to grow their company and develop new ideas that can be learned and enhanced through professional development.
However, according to 2013 GEM UAE, Entrepreneurship: An Emirati Perspective, a report that examines key aspects of entrepreneurship among Emiratis by measuring their attitudes, activities and aspirations, only half of Emiratis believe they have the necessary skills and knowledge to start a business. As a result of this skills gap, there has been increased enrollment in MBA programs in recent years, including professional businesswomen because online MBA programs are unfettered by the gender barriers normally embedded within societies and local educational institutions in the Middle East.
While there are some people born with an entrepreneurial spirit, many are interested in learning how to be successful through professional development. Today’s entrepreneurs possess in abundance passion, vision and the ability to innovate. They persevere; they are resilient; and they have patience, curiosity and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Yet there is also an increasing demand for business professionals to learn how to become better entrepreneurs by identifying and handling complex and everchanging business environments, and this can’t be learned by experience alone.
Since MBA programs differ from one another, it’s important to understand which ones will help contribute to the success of future entrepreneurial endeavors.
Investigate programs that allow students to work while they learn. Online learning can play a vital role in supporting entrepreneurs who wish to have the flexibility of learning while they earn. Traditionally, enrolling in a MBA would require a massive time investment and in the business world, time is money. However, with the advent of online MBAs, entrepreneurs can learn the essential skills needed to be successful while continuing to develop their business on a daily basis. This flexibility is key for today’s busy professionals who often juggle work, studies and family priorities.
Identify MBA programs that include contemporary issues. Reviewing historic case studies and learning about companies that achieved success can help impact an entrepreneur’s bottom line, but MBA programs that also address the contemporary needs of today’s workforce will complement modern business models. Through lively and interactive discussions among peers and faculty, students in online MBA programs can explore more timely and relevant issues in the immediate context of the classroom, and learn to develop strategies and plans to address implications and consequences.
Seek a global classroom that will help inform future endeavors. MBA programs often attract leaders from around the world, and online programs are no different. The online classroom simulates a team environment and allows students to collaborate with peers in their global class- room on shared assignments. Working with and learning from like-minded professionals from the MENA region and beyond enhances the exchange of ideas and informs best practices from an international cohort, and this can ultimately lead to an overall culture of innovation and creativity.
Explore MBA programs that model today’s digital practice. As companies increasingly operate digitally to acquire customers and partners from around the world, it’s important to experience learning how to connect and build those important relationships during a MBA program. One should look for MBA programs that provide opportunities to connect via social media and other networks so students can explore a social experience beyond the classroom. The development of long-term and fruitful relationships with faculty and peers is of significant benefit to budding entrepreneurs and their business endeavors after graduation.
With the surge of digital innovations and social media as well as a truly globalized economy, today’s entrepreneurs tend to operate in an always-on environment. An online MBA offers a potent mix of management skill set, leadership competency base and rich networking opportunities expected from a MBA, along with the accessibility and international reach befitting the entrepreneur of today in a challenging and competitive business landscape.