Be Here Now: MBA Dilemma – Entrepreneurship Or Employment After Graduation

After obtaining an MBA degree, you’ll find a critical crossroad awaits: the choice between launching a business and starting a full-time job. If you’re reading this blog, you most likely possess unique knowledge, skills, and ambitions that can lead to success in either path.

You will never know the right path that will lead to happiness and success. Spoiler alert: I think there is no “right path” at all. Instead, your goal is a moving target, and your pros and cons will change depending on your current life situation and whether you have kids, financial obligations – or dozens of other reasons.

In this blog, I will share personal observations, exploring the merits and considerations surrounding entrepreneurship and traditional employment post-MBA to bring more clarity to your decision-making process. I had the opportunity to explore both paths in the last nine months.

Sebastian on a morning run to the Rocky steps


If you have an unwavering desire to build something from the ground up, entrepreneurship will be your thing. The diverse skills you acquired during an MBA – including strategic thinking, financial management, marketing, and (most important) the great contacts you made. They are enough to say: “I got the knowledge, the network, and I can spell “entrepreneurship”. I can be an entrepreneur”.

During my journey at INSEAD and the Wharton Business School, I met colleagues who have successfully built their own companies. Among them, I met Ankita, who heads a media company with 25 employees in India and France while completing her Wharton MBA in Philadelphia. Ankita’s self-discipline is remarkable: she excelled academically, competed at the Olympics, and still found the time to run a business. When I asked her for advice, she told me that a healthy lifestyle gives her the energy to do all activities. Additionally, it is very important for her to be passionate about the business she operates.

Another MBA colleague is Denis. He owns a catering company with over 500 employees. His advice about entrepreneurship was this: “Just do it and learn about entrepreneurship, while being an entrepreneur”. Denis is obsessed with quality and great customer experience. He told me that one of the hardest tasks is to find good employees. Once you find the employees who are doing the extra work, use common sense, and are reliable, you need to keep them! Invest time to develop them and turn them into leaders within your business. They will become your extended eyes and hands that will grow the business.

Another friend of mine is Tom (Name was changed for confidentiality). He left a well-paying job in Australia where he constantly overperformed. He was a “made man” there, but he chose the unpaved path, resigning and following his dream of funding a startup. Working in the medical field, the first two years were rough with almost no income and lots of doubts. But he did not give up and became successful. Throughout his experience, he developed his character and expanded his knowledge in areas like fundraising, new technologies and innovation. For the outside, it might look like an overnight success, but it took him more than two years, tears and sweat to build his business.

Engaging with entrepreneurs shows me that our desires, thoughts, and fears are similar. Entrepreneurs have their doubts – and many bad days when nothing seems to work. None of them had easy and quick success. The average age of successful entrepreneurs is 42, according to Harvard Business Review and not glamourous 20-year-olds like movies suggest. When building a business, it’s advisable to anticipate the known risks. One of the known struggles is the monetary aspect. It’s advisable to plan for a two-year runway. That means you should have enough money to sustain your lifestyle for this period. It will help you to focus on growing the business so financial struggles will not hold you back.

Entrepreneurship thrives on disruptive ideas that challenge the status quo. You can bring your visions to life. Attending classes focused on entrepreneurship and innovation during my MBA journey exposed me to many remarkable success stories. One such example is the enigmatic FURBY, a product born from audacious ideas that eventually captured the hearts of millions.

The Furby toy, launched in 1998, achieved immense success due to its pioneering interactivity, simulating language, and fostering a sense of nurture and emotional connection among users. The combination of strategic marketing, economic timing, and a touch of scarcity made it a sought-after item. On the first look, this toy seems like a terrible idea, but it was a bestseller. The lesson is, you don’t need to invent the next big thing to be successful, but you should bring something new to the market or improve existing products significantly.

Since you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, you can also choose a proven business model. Instead of jumping in the unknown, you might just try to implement a proven business model and optimize quality, processes, and cost. This kind of business is called a lifestyle business, as it might not become a Unicorn but can help you to sustain a decent lifestyle. You can always adopt the speed of growth to your current lifestyle.

This brings me to my own company: “Tasty Kitchen Catering”. I’m a terrible cook and therefore love the idea of catering. Catering is a proven business model, no need for a Minimal Viable Product (MVP). You need a kitchen and people who can cook. Luckily my best friend from childhood, Andreas, is a master chef and has his own kitchen. He started the company two years ago and I joined as an advisor, but quickly became co-owner once I invested a few months of work into the company.

I used my technological skills to rebuild the Website, created ads for Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn, set up a CRM system, and used my knowledge from sales at SAP to attract B2B customers. Within three months, the sales numbers tripled. We quickly realized that two founders could comfortably live out of such a business if we attract at least ten large B2B customers with more than 10K revenue/month.

I learned that entrepreneurship grants autonomy and control. As a founder, you have the freedom to go to work whenever you want, and you don’t need to ask anyone for days off. It’s up to you if you need a break. Just remember, if you don’t do something, your company would not move forward. You are the CEO, but you are also the one who does the “heavy lifting” – literally – when you don’t have people to help you.

Sebastian lifting a table for setting up the catering.

Experiencing this freedom when I owned the catering business was remarkable and somehow hard to believe. Monday morning, I could just sit down, drink coffee, or take a walk in the park. No need to justify what I did and why I take a day off. On other days, I worked until 3 AM or even more if there was a lot to do.

As the business owner, you are the one who makes fundamental decisions that will shape your company for the next years to come. Choosing the CRM system, the website tool, or the e-mail provider for customer communications has deep implications for the future of the business. You need to be sure, based on the information you have, that you will make the right decision.

When talking money, entrepreneurship inherently entails risks, but it also presents opportunities for substantial financial rewards. If you land a contract worth 30 K Euro, it means that the profit margin belongs to you! YES YOU! You don’t need to wait for the salary at the end of the month. Once the customer pays, it’s in your bank account and (in principle) you are free to spend it for a new sports car, software, a gold chain – or whatever comes in your mind. To build a sustainable business, you must be reasonable and responsible.

That said, it is very important to discuss money, working hours or other key areas with your co-founder. If the discussion is too easy, then you are doing something wrong. Most likely, there will be some friction. Write down whatever you agree and sign the paper; later it will be very helpful if there is conflict.

You can create lasting wealth by leveraging the knowledge gained from an MBA, networking connections, and market insights. In my case, I had to pause the catering Business, because we did not find the ten customers as quickly as we thought, and Andreas purchased a new restaurant. His priority now is to make sure that the restaurant runs smoothly before focusing on growing a new catering business. I was a bit sad at the beginning, but this gave me the possibility to get a new job in a company and explore the benefits of being an employee again.


Now let’s talk about the “normal” path, the one that you probably learned from your parents, friends and 99% of the people surrounding you.

After pausing the catering business, I joined Siemens, an amazing global technology company specializing in areas such as digitalization, automation, and electrification across diverse sectors ranging from energy to transportation. I’m part of a new team, dedicated to ensuring that our customers are successful when using Siemens software. I work with Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software space, which helps customer to develop new products. My customer base represents some of the most innovative companies in the South-East-Asian region.

Here are several advantages I’ve enjoyed in following a more traditional path.

Access to talented people, executives and trainings: The first advantage to working for a company: You have access to a lot of very talented individuals who are willing to help you – without expecting anything in return. At Siemens, I meet colleagues like Raphael, who has more than a decade of experience in several industries and Siemens PLM products. Whenever we go for lunch, I learn about a new development in the area and I understand where the market is heading.

I also have the chance to talk about strategy with the local managing director in Singapore, the CFO, and other executives. All these things would’ve been very difficult to do when I was the business owner. If I need access to market reports, I simply access them in our database. If I need to get enabled on a topic, I can request some learning budget or visit an internal training.

Predictability of income streams: As the MBA consumes a lot of financial resources, it was a refreshing feeling when I saw a ROI (Return of Investment) when my first salary was transferred to my bank account. The likelihood to get next month’s salary is also high. This might seem boring, but sometimes boredom has its advantages too, as it keeps your focus on other topics that are more strategic for your life and building a career.

Sleep well at night and have a vacation: If you are the owner of the company, everything depends on you and your immediate decisions. That means also that you might have sleepless nights and constant fears of running out of cash and not paying your employees on time. If you are an employee, you can relax after work. You can close your laptop, go home, and watch a movie without the fear that your creditors will be on your doorstep the next morning.

Have easier discussions with your team: When I was an entrepreneur, all my discussions centered on the life and death of my own company. But now, since I’m an employee, I can also focus on harmony within my team, take things easier, and relax after work.

Siemens success will not directly depend on a short-term innovation or my immediate decisions. Processes might seem slow on occasion, but at the same time they are also stable. I can plan long term, create strategic initiatives, and focus on relationship building, rather than being stressed all the time that the company will go belly-up if the PowerPoint doesn’t look good for investors.

Various Intrapreneurship programs: No one stops you for being entrepreneurial within a larger company. If you already gained some entrepreneurial knowledge, you could also use it in an “Intrapreneurship program”. That means that a company will fund you and support you to grow your idea. Big companies love entrepreneurs. Therefore, be bold and step forward if you see this kind of project. You will have the possibility to join a Company organized bootcamp where you have the chance to work on your own idea, risk-free, while receiving the salary at the end of every month. If you are successful (though, as with every startup, the odds are against you), then you can keep a considerable stake in the company. All these advantages can also be combined with the employee benefits. If successful, this is a clear win-win situation.

Manage your own business, manage your customers: Working in a customer-facing role can help you to sharpen your sales skills and people skills. You can view your role within a company as an entrepreneurial role. Imagine that you are the owner of the division where you are working, and your corporate customers are your own companies’ customers. Very quickly, you will see that you manage several multi-million-dollar customers.

Get involved in leading strategic initiatives: Once you get settled in your job, make the effort to do the next step: leading strategic initiatives of your division. Approach the executives and ask what processes can be improved. Then take ownership of such an initiative and show how you will improve existing processes. This will demonstrate the added value (beyond your day-to-day activities) you bring to your organization.

In conclusion, if you are doing the right things, you will discover quickly that a company job can prepare you to be a better entrepreneur.

Hmm, and now?

The decision to embark on entrepreneurship or pursue traditional employment after completing an MBA is profoundly personal, influenced by your aspirations, risk tolerance, and prevailing circumstances. Entrepreneurship offers the thrill of building one’s vision, financial potential, and personal autonomy. Conversely, traditional employment provides opportunities for skill development, industry exposure, stability, and access to established networks.

No matter which path you choose, I can assure you that the MBA will bring you success and empower you to make informed decisions and carve your paths in the ever-evolving business landscape. And never forget, whatever you choose, it only takes one moment to change your path again.

Sebastian got his master’s degree in Computer Science at the TU Darmstadt in Germany, where he was also the president of an international student association. He is passionate about speaking at events, having deep conversations, and coaching people. Sebastian worked in Business Software Sales in Germany, the US, and South East Asia. In his spare time, he enjoys meeting friends and family overseas, ice baths, and hosting events.




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