The majority of young people believe that college is a must. They see it as the first step toward a professional career. But what if everything your parents and guidance counselors told you was wrong?
Ok...Maybe they weren't entirely wrong, but I'm here to tell you a different story.
I'm a proud college dropout - one of a growing number of flourishing entrepreneurs with surprising educational backgrounds. Thus far, the companies I've built have generated over $20 million in sales. I've experienced plenty of ups and downs in my business career. But for a thirty-three year old without a college degree, I'd say I've done all right.
There are those who believe young people, even entrepreneurs, will benefit greatly from entering the workforce with a college degree. There are valid reasons for supporting this claim.
But I am not one of those people. Looking back at my life, dropping out of college was the smartest decision I ever made. I left CU-Boulder as a sophomore against the better judgment of all my friends, family and classmates. At the time, they thought I was making a huge mistake. However, I was determined to prove them wrong, and this determination helped fuel my success.
If you're considering dropping out of college, please, take time with the decision. Don't just pull the trigger. Believe me; the real world is just as challenging and if you thought a final exam was hard, wait till you're working 12 hour days with no paycheck in sight. Building companies has been the most challenging thing I've ever done. However, if you're a self-starter who can see the benefit of risk versus reward, you might have what it takes.
With over a decade of experience building and selling companies, I've learned a lot of lessons the hard way. Here is some great advice that any dropout turned entrepreneur should know.
- The long haul - Don't believe in getting rich quick schemes. [G1] Building a great business takes time. You must have the commitment and a level of perseverance many people lack.
Risks vs. reward - Entrepreneurs take huge risks in the hopes of a big payout. Sometimes [G1] a gamble turns out in our favor. Other times, risking too much can leave you wishing you were back in midterms.
Appreciating failure - If you can learn from your failures, they can be the foundation for a successful business. Be agile; fail, overcome, learn and grow.
Problem-solving - Entrepreneurship is a constant process of solving problems to make your business better. You must learn to be solutions oriented.
Adapt to change - Business conditions, markets, and competitors always evolve. So will your business. Be ready to and pivot when necessary.
Self-Belief -You must believe in your ability to succeed. If you can't convince yourself of the value of your product or service, good luck convincing investors and customers in a saturated, established market.
Always be learning - You probably don't have all the info you need to run a successful business, at least not yet. The good news - you can learn everything you need to know. Do yourself a favor and spend time developing a level of expertise in your core business.
These ideas might sound simple, but I'm always amazed at how many young entrepreneurs want immediate success without putting in the work. Sorry dreamers, but hard work and achievement are directly related.
As a final note, in the words of the moderately successful Richard Branson,
"You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over."