There has been much written about whether or not an entrepreneur needs an MBA to be successful in his or her business. I thought I’d share why it works for a Raleigh-based entrepreneur.
Liliana Cantrell is the founder of Sweetie Pie Organics, an organic baby snack food company. I heard about her company when one of my MBA students began an internship with her. It was not until I met her that I realized that she herself has an MBA. So, I was curious about how her MBA has helped her build her business.
Entrepreneurs are known for taking risks and being creative. While this is all true, Liliana said that her MBA training also helped prepare her for growth. “My MBA education helped me personally put all of the pieces together in a clear go-to-market strategy and implementation plan: from an idea in 2014 to a product approved by 450 Whole Foods stores in 2016.”
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In addition, Liliana said that in order to gain business from large companies like Whole Foods, she had to show that she was organized and ready to execute. “Large national public companies such as Whole Foods and UNFI have a very structured business approach and low tolerance for incompliances, operational errors, and bad planning; things that smaller brands are famous for. It is not enough to have a great product anymore to do business with the big guys. Efficient operational principles not only opened a lot of doors for us and gave us a competitive advantage, but also saved us a lot of money.”
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Sweetie Pie Organics is unique in that the founder and her two employees at the headquarters location are all women who all have an MBA. When I asked Liliana about this she said that she likes working with MBAs “because they are great problem solvers, fast learners, and can see the big picture.”
Finally, I was curious about how her HQ employees feel that their MBA has helped them in their roles. Olga Kerr, the CMO, mentioned that her MBA has provided her “with the crucial experience and set of skills that help to assess and resolve any situation or problem no matter how challenging it might be. The marketing field is evolving so fast that to know how to adapt and learn new things effectively can be a great advantage in this industry. My MBA grad, Swati Sar, is now the e-commerce lead for Sweetie Pie Organics. For Swati: “My MBA education helped me link my IT experience to market research, understand competitive landscape, propose, and implement a strategy to grow e-commerce for Sweetie Pie Organics.”
While it may not be for everyone, an MBA degree certainly has proven to be worthwhile for these entrepreneurial women.