College and the Budding Entrepreneur

Launching a business is an exciting endeavor and if you plan to attend college here are some thoughts from Anna Prior of the Wall Street Journal on how to use college as an aid in your endeavor. If you have been to college or have no plans to attend college, you can still learn how to leverage your talents from this advice.

The first point made is that venture capitalists don’t care as much about the college degree or college attended. Their main concern is whether or not a new business is solving a problem for the public or other businesses, and if the founder is the person that can take the idea and make it a winner. Expensive schools are not the key to success.

Networking is considered to be the largest area a would be entrepreneur needs to focus on. For this reason, choose your college and community carefully. Consider if your target business is an important industry in the community where your school is located. When this is the case, there will be more opportunity to network, find mentors and build relationships. Finding mentors and networking opportunities are keys to success but be mindful and always research the individuals you plan to work/study with. Don’t be afraid to ask about the businesses they have launched and the community ties they have developed. Community banks and chambers of commerce are also a good sources to build your adviser network. Community bankers know who the business mentors are and a local chamber of commerce will give clues to the business successes and needs of an area.

Do you need to get a business degree? The answer is no. Advisers encourage students to study what they are passionate about and not get wrapped up in earning the highest GPA possible. They encourage college students to become involved in meaningful organizations on campus, as they can be great sources of opportunity to hone leadership skills. Take classes in theatrics or communications to become more comfortable with reaching out to strangers or public speaking. Summer vacations should also be used as opportunities to learn and network while interning. Successful business people emphasize that the type of job does not matter as much as just gaining experience. Be open-minded and remember finding out what you don’t wish to pursue as a career is vitally important.

Whether you launch your first start-up in college or at the age of 50, be mindful of debt. Nothing can kill a business faster than lean resources. If you have student debt or other financial obligations, make sure you can structure payments to fit your needs but always remember in the end the money has to be repaid. Two organizations offering financial assistance to entrepreneurs are the National Association for the Self-Employed and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Starting your own business offers great freedom and responsibility. Good luck!


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