BUSINESS FORUM: Is now a good time to seek further education?

Q: I was fortunate to get hired as a CEO during the telecom bubble but have not had a good job since. Recently, I have been looking at the mobile space and also thinking about an MBA. I am at a loss after being rejected by several top schools—probably due to my age. At this point, I am running out of networking contacts. Any suggestions?

A: I am sympathetic and I hope you allow me to speak my mind. Do filter what I say to fit because I tend to be conservative.

I suspect you want an MBA to give you an edge in finding an executive position. But there may be other steps to achieving your goal—maybe even scaling back the position for which you apply in order to avoid a large gap in your resume.

I wonder how much you can gain from getting an MBA at this stage of your career. An MBA program can bring a healthy dose of general management techniques for someone just starting out, which can be very useful knowledge when you manage a real-life project. However, you have probably experienced most of what is taught. The downside to seeking an MBA at this point is that you run the risk of getting rejected for having an unusual career path. People are usually looking for reasons not to hire when filling a job opening, especially in very competitive positions.

You may want to think about applying a strategy that I would call "competing down": In your case, look for opportunities in areas where you can compete at an advantage or where you bring a unique capability to the job, and in areas less sought after or less competitive. Look critically at your resume; you can be very helpful working alongside a novice entrepreneur. Mobile, on the other hand, is a hot space at this time, so you may want to think about where there are fewer job seekers and how to compete with young people who have grown up in the digital age, having been inundated with mobile applications during their early years.

Q: This is my first attempt at starting a business. How can I get investors interested in my idea before I spend too much time, only discover it is not a sound investment?

A: Ideas come and go; you have to assume investors are not going to be interested unless they see a full business plan. They will want to be sure you are serious about your idea and you know where it should lead the business. I can understand why you wouldn't want to waste time on an idea that isn't going to go anywhere.

You may be able to use your lack of experience as a way to get advice after you have written an executive summary that addresses the key issues. And if you accept the potential investors' input to develop the business plan, then by their definition you'll have a good business idea. In marketing jargon, that is in effect "creating a pull" for investors to think about your idea and find their own reasons to buy into it.

You may have noticed I shifted "idea" to "business idea." The point is a good business idea is more than just a viable technology or a useful application: It has to make business sense from every point of view. My advice is for you to work through the outline of a business plan to address the key issues in your executive summary: technology, applications, and product; plans for getting financial resources, technical capabilities, management, and business skills; and whatever else is necessary to gain competitive advantage in the marketplace. Time spent even on a plan you don't ultimately pursue is not wasted because you are practicing to get good at what you need to do each time—until you truly have encountered a "good idea."


Click to EnlargeMILTON CHANG is founder and managing director of Incubic Management LLC. He is also director of Precision Photonics and mBio. Chang is a Fellow of IEEE, OSA, and LIA. He has received Distinguished Alumni awards from the University of Illinois and Caltech, is a trustee of Caltech, and is member of the Committee of 100. Contact Chang at miltonchang@incubic.com with questions, and visit www.incubic.com for other articles he has written regarding entrepreneurship.

 

More Laser Focus World Current Issue Articles
More Laser Focus World Archives Issue Articles

50 YEARS OF SOLID-STATE LASERS


A long way from the ruby laser

Most Popular Articles

Webcasts

Multichannel Spectroscopy: Technology and Applications

This webcast, sponsored by Hamamatsu, highlights some of the photonic technology used in spectroscopy, and the resulting applications.

Handheld Spectrometers

Spectroscopy is a powerful and versatile tool that traditionally often required a large and bulky instrument. The combination of compact optics and modern pa...

Fracking, climate change, and lasers:  new tools to reduce fugitive methane emissions

This webcast, sponsored by Hamamatsu Corporation, covers recent developments and field deployments of compact quantum-cascade-laser (QCL)-based methane senso...

Opportunities in the Mid-IR

The technology for exploiting the mid-IR is developing rapidly:  it includes quantum-cascade lasers and other sources, spectroscopic instruments of many...
White Papers

Narrow-line fiber-coupled modules for DPAL pumping

A new series of fiber coupled diode laser modules optimized for DPAL pumping is presented, featur...

Accurate LED Source Modeling Using TracePro

Modern optical modeling programs allow product design engineers to create, analyze, and optimize ...

Optical Isolators Improve Engraving Performance of Pulsed Fiber Lasers

The deleterious effects of back reflections on pulsed fiber lasers used in marking and engraving ...
Technical Digests

ADHESIVES, SEALANTS, AND COATINGS: Solutions for optical technologies

A vast array of optical systems of various types and degrees of complexity require the use of adh...

WAVELENGTH-SWEPT LASERS: Dispersion-tuned fiber laser sweeps over a 140 nm range for OCT

By eliminating the use of mechanical tunable filters and instead tuning by intensity-modulation i...

Keeping pace with developments in photonic materials research

For demanding or custom spectroscopy solutions, care must be taken in selecting and integrating a...

HIGH-POWER FIBER LASERS: Working in the kilowatt regime

High-power materials-processing fiber lasers are available in an increasing variety of forms, as ...

Click here to have your products listed in the Laser Focus World Buyers Guide.

RELATED PRODUCTS

Social Activity
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Copyright © 2007-2014. PennWell Corporation, Tulsa, OK. All Rights Reserved.PRIVACY POLICY | TERMS AND CONDITIONS