The idea of completing any type of full-time, or even part-time, hobby sounds absurd to many Australian small business owners. Your time is invested in running your business, which is already more than a full-time workload. Add on an attempt at a social life, raising a family, and finding time to sleep, you probably don’t think you have any time to spare.
When someone suggests taking on a tertiary qualification your response is something along the lines of “are you out of your mind?” and honestly, if that’s how you feel, no one would blame you.
Except, when it comes to running your own business, or even working in one, the more skills you can bring to the table, the more you can contribute to the business’ success.
TMC Accountants resource manager and accountant Elissa Veleff said completing the Master of Business Administration (MBA) gave her the confidence to make decisions.
“It takes out the doubt, because [the program] goes through a lot of things that happen in the workplace,” Veleff says. “So, where normally you go ‘oh, I’m not too sure about that’, you can say ‘actually, this is the way it’s meant to be’.”
Veleff completed her MBA, the flagship IPA education program through Deakin University after completing the Pathways Program (Stage 1).
A standard MBA covers 12 units of study, however Deakin University has approved for 50% recognition of prior learning — reducing the units you need to study from 12 down to six.
Debra Rieniets, who has run her own business for more than 20 years, chose to complete the MBA because it was “sitting at the back of her to-do-list for life”.
“You’re given a line of education that is specific to what we do in our work. But it’s also specific to any sort of business,” Rieniets says, “so you get to work with all these people who you might not come across in your everyday life.”
It’s not just the people. Rieniets found the program exposed her to people, ideas and other businesses she otherwise would not have encountered. As part of completing her MBA, Rieniets was able to become an intern for a business in New York.
“I went to New York for a month and we were consulting a real business, a real international business, with a real problem they had,” Rienets says. “That was my important growth moment, working in that environment.”
Rieniets, who worked full-time, while studying and raising her family, said people just have to make the time if it’s something they’re interested in.
“Yes, it is really difficult, absolutely — and it needs to be acknowledged,” Rieniets says. The course gave both Rieniets and Veleff access to a wealth of knowledge that was not immediately available to them in their small businesses.
For both, it helped them grow their networks, understand more about how other parts of the business world operated and build their confidence as leaders.
“I guess to a point, sometimes it’s about recognising your skills and your knowledge and sometimes, it’s recognising where you need to improve as well,” Rieniets says.
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