We asked student entrepreneurs how they handle the difficult balance between running a business and attending school. These students have competed in the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA), a competition run by the Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO), which supports student entrepreneurs through mentorship, recognition, and connections to take their businesses to the next level.
Identify Your Most Important Tasks
"Student entrepreneurship has been one of the most challenging aspects of my college career. Add to that an intensive architecture program and part-time bartending a few nights a week, and it feels like you are caught in a constant whirlwind; as soon as you've completed your tasks list, it doubles or triples and you are back to square one!
"One of the biggest struggles is devoting enough time to my architectural studies. Architecture is one of the most time-consuming majors. One of the things I have realized is that my studio can't always take precedent over my business. I spend most of my nights working until the wee hours of the morning, hopped up on caffeine accomplishing as much as I can. Prioritizing tasks is critical; you have to accept the fact that you cannot accomplish everything on your to-do list."
Mike Zaengle, Penn State University
Co-Founder and Vice President of Design; Green Towers, LLC
Spend Time Intentionally
"It's hard to strike a balance, because it isn't fair to expect professors to make special exceptions. As student entrepreneurs, we sometimes have to put academics second, which contradicts the 'school first' mindset we had since the first grade.
"While all of my friends are working diligently in school and I am exhibiting at a tradeshow or pitching at a competition, I sometimes feel guilty. I'm asked why I didn't just take a semester or two off to pursue my business but I want to avoid that at all costs--I would hate to be left behind while all my friends were celebrating graduation. That said, this dilemma also teaches me to be very intentional about the way I spend my time. I find myself most effective in managing both of my full-time commitments when I avoid distractions such as weekend parties."
Kaeya Majmundar, Emory University
Founder and CEO; BZbox