The Personal MBA: A Review (2024 Update)

Home » Book Recommendations and Book Reviews » The Personal MBA: A Review (2024 Update)
Click Here to Get a FREE Printable Worksheet for Setting Effective SMART Goals

There might be affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission of anything you buy. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Please do your own research before making any online purchase.

The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman is a must read book for any prospective entrepreneur or anyone who wants to start a small business. It's also a wonderful primer for anyone who needs to learn the essential aspects of business management.

Now, while it's a great book for businessmen and entrepreneurs, it does a few minor flaws, which we'll cover in this following review.  

Why The Personal MBA is a Great Starting Point

The book starts out really strong, making a great argument for the ever decreasing value of an MBA in contrast to the quickly rising education costs. An MBA from a respectable school can cost over $200,000.

Furthermore much of what is taught in a classroom setting is outdated. Even worse, in some cases, the lessons are WRONG when it comes to what's actually happening in our highly agile business world of today.

Getting an MBA promises nothing more than the extensive debt to goes with it.

To quote Josh Kaufman:

“Business schools don't create successful people. They simply accept them, then take credit for their success.”

So the stated benefit of The Personal MBA is you will get all the important knowledge from an MBA program in a single inexpensive book.

While it would be wonderful if that was true, it does not teach you everything you would learn in an MBA program. Even a wasteful, expensive, and off target program will provide more knowledge than what you would get from a single book.

That said, The Personal MBA does a great job of providing a simple overview of the important lessons you would learn in a classroom setting. 

Real-World Application of The Personal MBA

After reading this book, I feel you could be able to stand round MBA graduates and “talk shop” with a good understanding of what's being discussed.

This is actually more important than you might think. One of the barriers to entry of any exclusive group (MBAs, lawyers, doctors, police, military) is creating their own shorthand “language.”

Often this acts as a shorthand for the group while also creating a barrier of entry where people who don't fully grasp the concepts without understanding the “language”

So, while The Personal MBA may not deliver on the implicit promise of an entire masters of business worth of knowledge between its covers, it does give an important start. Most importantly it also points you in some directions where you can learn more on your own through self education.

While I disagree that any single book could teach you an MBA-level worth of knowledge, I absolutely believe that 20 to 30 great business-centric books plus The Personal MBA could easily give you that level of education.

This book (and his website) point you in the direction of many more books that can round out your “Personal MBA” education. Read these books and The Personal MBA and you may well be on the way to exceeding any MBA graduate in the knowledge that matters.

To get the most out of The Personal MBA, you need a system. One strategy you can use is the Feynman Technique. To learn how you can use this mental model to improve your ability to learn new things, take a few minutes to watch the following video:

The Personal MBA Suggested Further Readings

If you want a list of books that can give you an MBA level education, here are some of the books that Kaufman recommends

(Note: This is an abridged list that can give you an idea of some of his recommended subject matters, and a single suggested book from each list. See his book for complete list. Not surprisingly, about 40% of the books he lists are already in my best self help books list. )

You can see from this list that it's possible to get a well-rounded, graduate level business education for the cost a few hundred dollars or to quote Good Will Hunting: “an education you could have got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library!”

So What Does The Personal MBA Teach Us?

What does this book actually teach you?

Well, here is a highlight of the things you'll learn:

  • How good business ideas balance profit potential with passion
  • Capital resources and how to leverage investments
  • Finding products your customers need
  • Understanding your product
  • Understanding your customers’ needs
  • Making a positive impression on your customers
  • Forming the right marketing message
  • Power of testimonials
  • How to close a sale
  • Accounting for your customer’s fears
  • Winning negotiations before they begin
  • Being a good communicator
  • Making the most effective use of your day

Final Thoughts on The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman

As you can see from the highlighted topics above, the primary lesson of The Personal MBA is you learn how to market your product and work with customers. It is essential to communicate well with them, both as an advocate for your product and as a method to improve your product.

Forming this ability to understand what your customer’s desire and delivering it to them before they even know they need it is the core of The Personal MBA.

” Every time your customers purchase from you, they’re deciding that they value what you have to offer more than they value anything else their money could buy at that moment.”

Josh Kaufman

This style of forward thinking, understanding your customers needs and creating the best product possible and will lead you down the path of success. All you need to do is couple it with hard work and the knowledge you can glean from 30 to 40 library books.

It would be far better to have someone who understands the importance of the customer/product relationship and was self educated on their business tools than have a Harvard or Wharton MBA who ruthlessly sticks to last century’s best business practices.

If you lack business training, or want an excellent refresher on the some of the best current tactics on understanding your product and customer, this book should be an absolute must read.

Finally, if you want to read more self-help books, check out these blog posts:

personal mba | personal mba reading list | personal mba review