how to be an entrepreneurToo often, college students are given the same old career advice:

“Build up and pad your resume carefully to get into a cushy, benefits-laden corporate job, get a promotion when your manager lets you have one, stay there for as long as you can, and then retire”

When I was a college student all but 8 months ago, this was the advice I heard daily from professors and my peers.

I’m not going to say that’s bad advice: that works well for some people.

But is that really our only option?

What about those of us who want to be our own bosses, run our own companies, and make money on our own terms?

Is working 9-5 an undeniable outcome…

…or can we do better for ourselves?

I think we can.

How?

It’s hard to believe that we can do it…

Given that basically no one promotes entrepreneurship to college students, it’s no wonder we think we can’t be successful starting out on our own. Hell, I know I was afraid of startup my own company:

I spent all of college knowing that a corporate job wasn’t for me…

But I was too afraid to do anything about it: too afraid to even come up with a business idea (“what if it’s a bad idea? What if I fail? Isn’t it too big of a risk?”).

Towards the end of college, I knew I’d had enough…that the only option that would work for me was saying “no!” to a corporate job, and trying to start out on my own. Anything else would be a death sentence to an abysmal career of daily misery and drudge.

I was as scared as hell…but I made the leap, and I haven’t looked back since.

…but once we know we can do it, it’s hard to ever go back!

If you think you can’t do it, why have so many other college and young entrepreneurs done it successfully? For example:

  • These college kids who started a bus company that takes college kids to concerts. They didn’t buy buses or anything…they were just the middlemen. They used the proceeds from this to fund their other business ventures.
  • A friend of mine from Arizona State University who started one of the state’s most popular DJ companies…all while in school and while receiving funding from the university! (Take note: you can get funding too!).
  • Kids from Arizona State who turned a profit in 3 months selling fruit baskets online.
  • This guy who makes $500k/yr selling courses on how to play bass guitar.

Note: I intentionally picked examples that weren’t tech-based so that you can’t say “well…ok, if you’re a computer genius, maybe you can do this!”.

Entrepreneurship is for everyone.

I’m not trying to say that simply wanting to be an entrepreneur means you’ll be successful.

My own experience shows just how tough it is to start a company…I’ve been working on my ventures for months, and even though they’re going awesome, there’s been a lot of failure and “learning the hard way”, and they’re still months away from fully being ready.

But in a few years when I’m 25…when I’m 30….and older…I’ll be looking back, glad I took the time early in life to take risks, learn how businesses work, and to make money doing something that I liked and was good at.

And that’s why I encourage you: not because I want to fool you into thinking you can make a quick buck, but because there’s so much potential given the time and effort. If these people above could do it—if I could do it—then you sure as hell can too.

So, do you want to know how to be an entrepreneur?

How to be an Entrepreneur?

If you’re in college, there’s so many AMAZING things you can do to start embracing entrepreneurship.

Here’s 3 things right now:

1. Campus entrepreneurship resources.

Many college campuses have awesome resources for student entrepreneurs.

My alma mater, Arizona State University, has an entire office space devoted to student startups…and it gives away tens of thousands of dollars in prize money to student startups through its Innovation Challenge and Edson Entrepreneurship programs.

ASU also offers small business and startup consultation through its Innovation Advancement Program…and universities like the University of Connecticut offer free IP legal help through the IP Law Clinic.

Even if your university doesn’t have office space and huge buckets of money to hand to student entrepreneurs, odds are they at least have a business plan competition or professors who have been involved in startups (and would be glad to help you out!). All you have to do is ask.

2. Attend a Startup Weekend

What if there was a way to learn how to validate and start a company in 54 hours, all under the supervision of trained mentors and veteran entrepreneurs?

Enter Startup Weekend.

Startup Weekends happen all over the world, and for about $75USD, you get mentorship, meet fantastic entrepreneurs and potential business partners.

Startup Weekend is a true entrepreneur’s boot camp, and you’ll get an awesome sense of what it takes to launch a company by the time you are done.

3. Set long-term goals.

Too many would-be entrepreneurs get frazzled thinking about all of the hoops needed to start a company, and as such, never actually try to do so.

Just like with anything else you want to accomplish, such as figuring out how to get into the best US university for your exchange or study abroad program, success in entrepreneurship comes down to setting goals, understanding what you want to accomplish, persistence, and most importantly, figuring out what you don’t know and how to learn more about it.

The bottom line: If you’re determined, you’ll find a way to make entrepreneurship work for you.

In the comments below, write about your experience with entrepreneurship!

Tried to start a business?

Do you want to, but are having trouble figuring out how to make it work?

Let me know; I’m glad to help!

This article was written by R.C. Thornton, who is an entrepreneur and writer at Decoding Startups, where he teaches college students and young professionals how to embrace and execute entrepreneurship.

 

Comments

  1. I am a student from India currently doing my masters in engg mgmt in California.I like to create a startup based on Domain Auctions and Content Management in the US,but since i am on F1 i am hearing different stories from different ends. Can you help me out in this regard.

  2. After my Masters from Horticulture I passed 6 years in doing jobs in various sectors like from garments to bank sector. I DO believe that getting a job is easier than fixing goal. Unfortunately my entrepreneurship mind was hidden and never explored. I became bored and tired with banking job and in one fine morning I decided to review my thoughts. Every free moment I thought of having a business of my own. Finally I gave up my bank job and started my business in 2012, last year. I am confident enough to do better. With the help of my almighty my confidence is getting stronger. I want to be an employer NOT an employee. I want to pull the trigger NOT to be the target. Wish my luck.

  3. I Thought many times “Why should i devote my entire life to develop some others stuff,why can’t i do it for my own.”if i put the same effort to enhance myself then i would get benefited a lot.But everyone may not have same target.multiple people with multiple aims.

  4. Am Vivian from Nigeria graduate of Psychology please i will like to start up a business of my own but right now i don’t really know what i really want to do, i have not made up my mind on what to do and how to go about it. please i really need help.

  5. Hi I am from Canada and would love to be an enterpreneur. My dad owns a dry cleaning store here but as you know it’s a small business and we are not getting the profit we should be getting from it . Just want to ask you what kind of business do you recommend for me? Money is not the issue I can invest like 100k-200k but the thing is I should get the invested amount back in 1 year. Please let me know about what you think is a good business for me. Thank you.

    • Hey Harman,

      That’s a good question. First, I would recommend *not* starting a business that would require you to invest all of that money! The most important thing first is to build business acumen, which you can do with much less expensive ventures. Why not learn the ropes while doing something with less risk?

      As to which business, it depends upon your skillset. What is a skill you have that people would pay for? It’s tough to answer your question from the info you mentioned- but please feel free to e-mail me at rc at decodingstartups dot com if you’d like to talk more!

  6. Very encouraging article! I have been trying to figure out how to do it for past 1 year but just not be able to do it as US Immigration laws are not easy to meet. I can invest couple of 100K but not 500K as required under Investor Visa EB5; I have even found an American citizen interested in the venture but he does not qualify as Angel Investor.So if you have any ideas please let me know.I shall sincerely appreciate them.

  7. Am a graduate of federal university of Abeokuta here in nigeria, am into food production, food like; maize, soybean, rice, beans, yam in large quantities, like 5hecterage of land, but the major problem am facing is marketing, I try to export some of the but I don’t know people that may have intrest in my goods. Pls how can I go about it. I will be very grateful if I can get solution from you. Thanks

    • Hey Oladosu,

      The first thing I’d recommend is to become very, very proficient in understanding how import / export works. Sites such as http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/…and the US Import/Export Bank website.

      With something like import/export, I think your biggest problem will be understanding how the process works (dealing with shipping, international legal compliance, tariffs, etc.). Next is figuring out what the demand for your product is. If you want to export produce, I think that would be easier to determine, because produce is a commodity good of which demand statistics should be readily available. That Census link I posted above should help significantly.

      All and all, I would recommend trying to connect and meet with someone who is very knowledgeable in your industry and in export (I’m not knowledgeable in either unfortunately!).

      I think exporting is likely a huge undertaking, and it’s something that could be expensive if it goes wrong! Really make sure you know what you are doing before jumping in head-first.

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