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What Is the ROI of an MBA, From the Perspective of a Proven Financial Guru?

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Fueling Financial Freedom

By Mallory Baska; Owner, Fueling Financial Freedom

An investment in yourself pays the highest dividends. I believe in this statement but often find investing in yourself is one of the hardest decisions to make. I’m not talking about investing in the stock market, real estate, or skincare. I’m talking about truly investing in yourself and your education. 

Photos: Mallory Baska, Fueling Financial Freedom

Investing in education is just as critical as retirement but often without the instant gratification, making it a more difficult decision to make. You don’t get that immediate “feel good” feeling like channeling money into a new car. 

Determining the ROI (return on investment) of education is imperative when seeking advanced degrees or upskilling opportunities like an MBA. What is the ROI of an online course? A mastermind? A mini-MBA over a traditional one? You really have to think about how you are going to apply your education. Once applied, what is the potential ROI for your career? It’s not as straightforward as say, backing into the ROI of a $10,000 investment in the S&P 500 with nearly 100 years of data behind it. But I’m here to make it easier for you.

The power behind investing in your education is exponential in the way it compounds. As an entrepreneur, woman in business, and investor with a fairly steep early retirement goal, I want to share the best investments I have made (or not made) in myself in order to illustrate the ROI of education. 

Here’s my shortlist of the best investments I have ever made with my ROI of each recommendation.

1. Improving My Financial Literacy

I really began investing time into improving my financial literacy around age 23-24, and I’m still learning. I believe this improvement process never stops, and the biggest investment in this space is time. But when determining the value add, time is money.  Looking back and scrubbing through my budget (I have my spending documented back to 2016), my husband and I have dedicated about $5,000 to improving our financial literacy. This went towards many books, a Real Estate Investors conference, a Personal Finance conference, membership to specific online programs, etc. 

The ROI here is millions. 

You read that right – millions. This financial literacy has not only fueled (and will continue to fuel) our investment decisions, this is education that will be instilled in future generations of our family. The ROI of learning lifelong skills is immeasurable and worth your time and money. And it’s something the Invited MBA teaches everyday (more on that later).

2. Improving My Business Acumen as an Entrepreneur

I work in business full-time (Sr. Product Marketing Manager) and have a pretty solid baseline of business acumen. But when it came to starting my own business, I quickly realized there was a lot I did not know. Sure, I knew the basics like how to manage business finances. But I needed more strategic direction, and I will still need more down the road! 

Last year, I invested $2,000 in a business coaching program specifically for online entrepreneurs. At first, I was nervous to make that investment. But let me tell you about the ROI so far. 

After completing the program in December of last year, I began implementing strategies and learnings into my business practices in 2022. One strategy specifically drove $36,000 in revenue for my business in three days. That right there is a 1,700% ROI!

Improving your business acumen should be a priority in choosing education opportunities.

Choosing Not to Pursue a Traditional MBA

As an entrepreneurial woman in business, something I toyed with early on in my career was if I should pursue a business degree. Do I need an MBA to make “good” money? I really didn’t know, but I felt this aura around MBAs in Corporate America. At the same time, I couldn’t help but sit back and notice the successful leaders without traditional MBAs. 

I networked and asked mentors their thoughts on the traditional MBA. I kept hearing the same thing – it’s not a requirement these days, even for C-Suite execs. 

You can read more from Mallory on her website here.

A Senior Vice President at my former company told me, “It won’t hurt you to get an MBA, but it also may not make a difference at all. Especially if you’re not attending a top 10 MBA program. There are ways to increase your business acumen and leadership skills without it. And most important, as a leader, is your emotional IQ. This can be improved upon outside the traditional MBA program.” 

Don’t get me wrong, I recognize the education that comes with a traditional MBA is very valuable, but especially after that conversation, I couldn’t help but think – isn’t there a way to obtain a similar business education without the massive investment that comes with a traditional MBA program?

I also found data from Preston Cooper, a contributor to Forbes and a Visiting Fellow at the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, that concludes it is not entirely clear in today’s world that the traditional MBA will add that much more value from a counterfactual earnings perspective. 

Cooper’s data finds that 62% of Master’s Degrees or MBAs have a negative ROI. The only MBA programs above the trend with very positive ROIs are top 20 programs – Harvard, Yale, Wharton. But those are also the programs that put your life on hold and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is not an option for everyone.

That’s when I learned about the Invited MBA. The Invited MBA began as a leadership program for Fortune 500 companies such as Coca-Cola, Southwest Airlines, Dell, and more. I remember thinking… ah-ha! This is it. 

The mini-MBA provides a fast track to the essential business skills and financial acumen needed to be successful without the 2-year, $100K commitment of the traditional MBA. And, clearly, reputable companies were behind it as well, funding this program for associates manager level and above. I was immediately impressed. 

The Greatest Investment? An Investment in Yourself

Investing in your education will pay the highest dividends (if done right and applied).

If you are a working professional aspiring to climb the corporate ladder or entrepreneur looking to accelerate your business acumen and leadership skills without a significant financial investment, check out the Invited MBA program as you think about leveling up your business or career.

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