Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. Like many people, I wish there was a way to go back to my younger years with what I know now.
While my entrepreneurial roots took hold at a relatively early time in my life (I was in high school when I sold black boxes and vacuum cleaners), I can't help but wonder what could've happened had I done things the way I would do them now, with the knowledge I currently have.
When I was in college, there were several setbacks to launching my own company: I had exams, I didn't have funding, and I lacked experience. But as you get older, you realize that there will always be an excuse not to do things, and I learned that college was in fact, the best time get started as an entrepreneur.
Simply put, NOW is the best time to take action. After all, YOLO, right?
If you're a college student who's still on the fence about taking the big leap, here 14 reasons I hope will push you to start today.
1. Mentors are Just Waiting to be Found
I wouldn't have gotten to where I am now without key mentors in my life.
In college, mentorship is everywhere. These are people with many years of experience, or play a prominent role in their respective communities. Your college professors, department chairs, and even your fellow students can all provide opportunities, some of which can set you off on the rare path to success.
In fact, one of my first consulting gigs happened after I was delivering a speech for Speech 101, which led to a modest contract with Elpac Electronics.
2. Your Professors are Walking Fountains of Knowledge
Do you have classes in Economics or Business? Some of your professors just might be successful entrepreneurs who have decided to kick back and take a teaching gig after years of entrepreneurship. Some of my professors also had priceless connections and were more than happy to help point students in the right direction.
Talking about a startup idea with your professor as a student is much more likely to get them excited because they genuinely want to see you succeed
This is perhaps one of my college regrets--I didn't take the time to get to know them sooner. After graduating, it's much harder to set meetings with your teachers.
3. Access to Alums
Your college is guaranteed to have successful alums, some of which may have visited your campus for talks or meetings. Unfortunately, when I was a student, I didn't quite appreciate the opportunities they offered, so I never mustered the courage to meet with them.
College alums, especially entrepreneurs, love to meet with students--I know I do. These people have been in your shoes. They know your struggles. They know what opportunities you need.
Don't be embarrassed to ask for help when you can find it. If you're rebuffed, so what? Big deal. Just move on to the next opportunity.
4. There are More Financial Opportunities than You Think
When your college diet consists mainly of beer and ramen, starting a business can sound like crazy talk.
Where are you going to get the money?
That's certainly a valid question. But if you know where to look, college can be a goldmine for financial opportunities awaiting students with entrepreneurial mindsets.
For example, have you checked if your college has a business plan competition? Go to your college's business school to check if they have any opportunities offering seed money as rewards.
Besides that, you can also check organizations such as:
These are just a few of the many organizations offering businesses with seed money and networking opportunities.
5. You Can Make Mistakes
When you're in the 'real world,' the stakes for failure are much higher than those as a student. Given your time and financial constraints, as well as your obligations as an adult, mistakes could easily cripple your startup efforts.
While these issues are certainly still around when you're a college student, you really only have yourself to hold accountable. When there are fewer responsibilities to worry about, you have the freedom to devote your time, heart, and soul into ideas you're passionate about.
In other words, it's much easier to take risks as a college student. Not to mention no one will hold them against you, because you're 'still a student.'
6. Students Provide Dedicated and Inexpensive Labor
The college landscape is one big learning environment, one where you share countless hours of classes with the same people. As you near graduation, you and your fellow students will begin to think more about your careers, and chances are, some will be unable to get theirs up to speed.
So what happens is that many talented students are happy to take on work for little investment because they want to pad their resume. It's the reason why many students jockey for internships: experience. And if you have a startup in need of talent, your next employee or co-founder just might be one of your classmates.
Moreover, your friends will know how to work with you as a team (after years of being in the same classes), and could be your most loyal and hardworking people.
7. College Campus Offer a Wealth of Resources
Besides housing professors happy to get involved with startups, universities offer a wealth of resources for entrepreneurs. These include:
- Fast internet connections
- Free meeting rooms
- Cheap, sometimes even free, talent
These and many more resources would cost hundreds to thousands of dollars outside the campus. And seeing as how you're actually paying for them through tuition and taxes, why not take advantage of them now?
8. It's a Huge Career Builder
Even if your college startup tanks, it's still a huge plus on your resume's 'Experience' section. Starting a business shows you're creative, driven, proactive, and willing to take risks--qualities of an employee any successful company is looking for.
While a good GPA won't hurt, having startup experience in college can put your career on the fast track to rare opportunities with huge payoffs. So if your stint as an entrepreneur doesn't work out, at least you have a potentially vibrant career to look forward to.
9. You Get to Identify Your Passions Early On
Graduating and regretting your choice of degree is real problem graduates struggle with. They feel lost, worthless, and unable to identify their career paths.
Founding your own startup is a great way to identify what you're most passionate about at an early age. For example, if you like app development but also love the outdoors, your startup could serve as a bridge between both passions.
10. You Have More Control Over Your Life
Taking the reins over your career trajectory can be nerve wracking compared to just graduating and taking on a plush desk job. But if you want real control over your life's direction, a startup arguably serves as the best avenue to do just that. Just be ready to take on more responsibility, though
Entrepreneurship is a learning experience. And if you can summon the will and courage to make the jump, you're sure to have a rewarding and life-changing experience, success or not. It sounds so clich I know, but there's no better way of describing it.
If anything, this article proves one thing I've always wanted to make clear with people: you don't need a degree to start your own business.
Do you have any college entrepreneurship stories you'd like to share?