In our last post, we talked about how a hybrid skill set comprised of both hard and power skills is highly sought after right now. Earning an MBA can definitely help engineers refine their power skills, including communication, empathy, and creativity.

Earning an MBA also pays off for entrepreneurially minded engineers as well. As U.S. News & World Report recently pointed out, an MBA program can teach you how to turn a good idea into a good business.

What’s Important to Your Prospective Customer?

Lada Rasochova, executive director of the California Institute for Innovation and Development at the University of California San Diego’s Rady School of Management, notes, “It doesn’t matter how great the technology is if there’s no customer.”

In tandem with this, Lynne Sarikas, Director of the Graduate Career Center at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern University, states:

One of the best examples of the difference between an engineer and a business leader with engineering experience comes from the world of product design. The engineer wants to include all the features and functions in the product that they are capable of designing. The business leader wants to include the features and functions that are important to their clients and prospects and that differentiate from their competition.

Learning this crucial difference is a definite benefit of an MBA program.

Fail in Order to Succeed

Another is that these types of schools provide the best “incubator” atmosphere to test creative entrepreneurial ideas and concepts. MBA programs provide safe places for entrepreneurial ideas to fail or succeed, with the opportunity for engineers to refine their business models if needed.

Successful entrepreneurs who failed in their first ventures include Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter; Vera Wang, the fashion designer; and Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post.

Many Ways to Learn Business Skills

It’s also true that engineers have more choices than ever before when it comes to business knowledge pathways. We wrote in a previous post about the proliferation of innovation centers across U.S. campuses that stoke students’ entrepreneurial spirit.

There has also been an explosion of all types of business-oriented programs, whether full- or part-time, online or in a physical classroom.

For example, the University of California San Diego’s Rady School of Management provides full-time evening and weekend MBA programs. It requires all MBA students to take a unique Lab to Market set of classes, steering one entrepreneurial idea from market research to a business plan.

Another example of a flexible program is Harvard Business School’s four-week Entrepreneurship Essentials certificate course, providing an accelerated education in business basics like financing an entrepreneurial idea.

Finally, there’s programs like the University of Michigan Ann Arbor’s Desai Accelerator, a joint venture between the School of Engineering and the Ross School of Business. Offering a 16-week program for startups, the Accelerator benefits from a strong network of advisors and start-up experts and resources like skilled student interns and legal support.

Entrepreneurial Skills Help Engineers

No matter how you hone your power skills, an entrepreneurial mindset is valuable for engineers throughout their careers. It enables engineers to contribute in multiple, cross-disciplinary ways to their companies and to be more strategic.

In our next post, we’ll take another look at how some schools are teaching entrepreneurial skills through dedicated programs.