It’s been nearly five years since the global economic meltdown. Your family business has survived, but no doubt you’ve had to make a

lot of cuts. If you’re finally ready to stop cutting and start reinvesting, consider putting your money in yourself and your education.  Is a part-time MBA the next best step for you and your business?

The MBA as a Critical Ingredient for Success

Businesses like Hourly Nerd claim that an MBA is a critical ingredient in helping a small business thrive. Hourly Nerd matches MBA graduates to small businesses to help them handle everything from navigating technology and formulating new strategies to making the right hiring decisions. Although a consultant can be an invaluable tool, you can be your own consultant when you have the right education.

Unfortunately, as a current business owner, you don’t have time to take off on a two-year sojourn at business school. However, you can find a few hours a week to work on your MBA part-time. A part-time MBA program can provide you with the flexibility you need while enabling you to embrace new business strategies. It helps you think about your business in light of the changing global economy.

More Money

It may feel like you need to enroll in a full-time program if you want to reap the financial benefits of an MBA, but research conducted by the Journal of Education for Business found differently: Part-time MBA students spend an average of three to four years in school, compared to just one or two years for full-time students. Regardless of how long these students stay in their programs, once they graduate, their average earnings are 41 percent more than when they started their program, and five years after graduation, their earnings are 56 percent higher.

Those who entered their programs with an established track record of high earnings, however, saw slightly less gains, but their earnings on average were 29 percent higher after graduation and 43 percent higher five years down the line.

Applying to a Program

While you know business like the back of your hand, you may not have the academic background to support that fact. While you may see that as a hurdle, business schools often see it as an advantage, according to Alliant International University. Many schools will accept students who do not have a business degree from their undergraduate programs, as these students bring diversity to the MBA program. However, you will need to prove how your real-life experiences have prepared you for the MBA program, regardless of whether your college degree is in engineering or history or cultural studies.

Whether your family business is a third-generation shoe store or an idea that is still brewing in the back of your mind, you need to invest in it to make it soar—and sometimes, the best investment is in yourself. So, dust off your library card, pack your backpack and get ready to learn.