The London Business School is 50 years old in 2014 and is widely recognized as being one of the top in the world. Even some Americans admit it’s the “best outside the US”. Forbes magazine rates it highly, based on earning power of graduates of the 2 year MBA course polled in the five years since the class of 2008 graduated into an era marked by crashes of Lehman Brothers amongst other big name casualties.
But what of its commitment to entrepreneurship? Highly trained managers are not automatically entrepreneurs, just excellent custodians, one might argue. If you were considering starting your own business in the UK would an LBS education boost your chances of success?
The MBA core course includes Discovering Entrepreneurial Opportunities. The EMBA core course offers Entrepreneurial Management. The LBS Entrepreneurship department runs five entrepreneurship electives every year that are open to about 1,000 students. These can be considered as complimentary to the MBA/EMBA studies or simply taken as individual electives.
The Entrepreneurship Summer School comes closest to teaching core entrepreneurial skills and has no pre-requisite electives. It starts with one block in July and two further weekends in July and August. In between, several weeks of field research are required. This is hands-on stuff. To be accepted, students must already have a venture in mind that is meaty enough to satisfy the assessors that it is a suitable subject on which to deploy the tools and methodologies that are taught.
The course has two primary objectives:
- enable a prospective entrepreneur to assess their own suitability for the entrepreneurial life
- assess the viability of the venture and identify the capabilities, dependencies and success factors that will be required
New Venture Development (develop a business plan for the venture)
Designed to explore the challenges involved with setting up a new venture, this course focuses on converting the dream into reality through constructing a sound business plan with the essential elements required to pass scrutiny. Students also gain experience in presenting and defending their plan in a professional manner.
Financing the Entrepreneurial Business (financing the venture from entry to exit)
For those considering raising capital, providing venture capital, becoming consultants to start-ups or simply intending to buy an existing enterprise. It covers the practice of financing and its issues and pitfalls, pricing, structuring. Importantly, it also includes exiting, both from the points of view of the investor and the entrepreneur.
Managing the Growing Business (growing the venture through the various stages of growth)
After raising the capital and the initial start-up phase, the entrepreneur needs to build the business. This course describes to how take a small business to the next level of scale and is suitable both for start-ups and existing businesses. In contrast with the core MBA/EMBA courses that study large enterprises mostly, this course focuses on small businesses during the first three years when the risk of failure is highest.
New Technology Ventures
Refreshed every year to reflect new technology entrepreneurship, this course shows how to approach the market with cutting edge ideas. Concepts such as ‘lean start-ups’, minimum viable products and agile methods are taught. These ventures are characteristically high risk / high reward. The key success factor is often persuading consumers or customers to adopt the innovation quickly.
The LBS prides itself on its alumni and the supportive community they provide. The opportunities for global networking are very obvious and apparently very real. Add to that the freely available rich content of lectures, case studies and relevant content geared for the entrepreneur – it all adds up to an excellent training ground and support system for potential and established entrepreneurs.