- Under-consumes, lives beneath one's means for a while, and goes into personal debt to start a business.
- Accepts capital from investors, gives up some control, and partners up to start a business.
- Works for somebody else who did one of the first two.
If successful, they also tend to correlate with how much value one creates in society, and how much reward one is given for creating that value. For example, Michael Dell created much more value for society by starting his own business at age 19 offering low-cost computers to people, compared to the 50,000th employee to join Dell. Even if that 50,000th employee is a thousand times more talented than Michael Dell, that employee gets practically none of the high reward that the founder enjoys. Additionally, unlike Michael Dell, who can exercise ultimate control over the business, the 50,000th employee gets practically none, but in return is given a much more stable and less risky career path.
While maybe not thinking precisely in the terms I outlined above, many people at business schools wonder what kind of business person they are. A higher-risk, higher-reward, creator of major value? Or a lower-risk, lower-reward, member of an existing apparatus that contributes by creating incremental value? Many try to position themselves in the middle by joining a small firm, trying to tap into some of the upside potential of a start-up while still enjoying more relative stability than an entrepreneur.
It can be argued that top notch MBAs are needed in all these business segments in order to make the whole system flow... including being the providers of capital in option #2. The main question is, what is the best fit for your personality?