For those of you considering an MBA program as a way to increase your business acumen, build your personal brand, and set yourself apart from the competition, there are cheaper and arguably better alternatives.
The total cost for a two-year degree program can run anywhere from $70,000 (at a lower-tier school) to $160,000 (at a top private college). But, even if you earn your MBA in your spare time, there’s still an opportunity cost. Late nights, long assignments, and a staggered work/life balance become added tiresome expenses.
With that in mind, here are three smarter career moves that not only cost less than an MBA, but can also lead to heightened professional success with the benefit of extra income.
1. Write a Book, and Self-Publish, Too.
Sounds strange? Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc. magazines all recognize books as the business card of the 21st century. Of course, there’s the matter of actually writing your book which could take more time (and skill) than completing a two-year MBA, so professional ghostwriting might be your best option.
But, rather than hiring a low-end ghostwriter at 50 cents a word (which could end up costing you $25,000) look for a self-publisher that offers to ghostwrite. This way, you can transform your professional expertise into a high-quality book, that establishes you as a respected authority in your field, by spending only a fraction of what an MBA costs.
Pro Tip: Sending a book as a gift to clients and prospects opens more doors than an MBA after your name.
2. Master the Art of Storytelling.
Nowadays, everyone is up to their eyes with information, turning what might have been a competitive advantage into a huge abstract burden. By now we’re all familiar with the term Big Data, but the last thing people want is more meaningless information. They want to understand how you, your company, and your product fit into their own lives. In other words, they want a good story.
In need of a good story? Refer to item number one on our list. A recent example of this comes from Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella. In September of 2017, he published “Hit Refresh”, documenting his compelling life story while offering a window into the modern Microsoft. Nadella also uses the book to write about his management style, and his focus on empathy and continuous learning.
Storytelling in business doesn’t just have to be about writing books, however. Stories can be blueprints for securing media attention and speaking engagements which, when paired with a book you can sell, can lead to increases in revenue.
3. Start Your Own Business.
If you’re already thinking about doing items one and two on the list above, you’re halfway to starting your own business. By building your brand through a self-published book that you can use as a professional marketing tool, then you have a proven business model. Coupled with great storytelling and other marketing tactics that grab the attention of current and prospective peers or clients, you could potentially be making more money in the time it’d take you to complete a semester of night classes toward your MBA.
Starting your own business doesn’t necessarily mean you have to leave the company you’re currently working with. It could be an additional endeavor, bringing in surplus income. But, if you’re wanting to move away from your current field or company, venturing out on your own may be the right choice.
Want another boost to your marketing plan? You can get your self-published branding book in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal bestseller list by influencing enough (or paying enough) friends and business associates to buy roughly 2,500 advance copies.
In closing, if your career path shows an MBA is in the cards, we’re not discouraging you from taking that step. Rather, we’re encouraging you to look at alternatives that could have a much more gratifying return on your investment and your career.