Do you need College to be an Entrepreneur?


The short answer to this is ‘no’ for most people. You generally do not need college to be an entrepreneur, since college degrees are universally geared towards developing good employees and in providing a more well-rounded education. So for someone who intends to become an entrepreneur right from the start, a college degree in most cases won’t add much value other than being a cool place to hangout while you decide what you want to do with the rest of your life! Though there might be some college courses or majors that are more focused on entrepreneurship or a particular field in business, a college education does a lot more than just offering a few good business-related courses.

For some serious entrepreneurs, college can be detrimental as there will be many general courses of study which can easily distract an entrepreneur from their chosen path of building and running a business. But for many youngsters who are yet undecided, and for those who are looking to build a good career as an employee, college can be the necessary ingredient for developing the knowledge and broader perspective for their future careers. It all depends on what interests you and what your priorities are, which will determine the importance of a college education for you.

After completing college, some people choose to get a job in a field of their liking and stick with it until they develop the know-how for starting their own business. This is another path that could be a good fit for some. In any case, whether you choose to become an employee or an entrepreneur or both at different times, it is of utmost importance that you choose the right college that’s a good fit for you. For this, some prefer the ivy leagues for their rigor, fame and network, while others choose a more precise education that suits their needs. Degree completion colleges or flexible colleges are a good option for those who want the maximum flexibility in customizing their own curriculum while also reducing the overall cost of college.

TYPE OF BUSINESS

Service-oriented or Consulting

Many younger and more experienced professionals choose a consulting type of business where they deliver a valuable business service to the customer. Examples of consultancies include software development companies, marketing agencies, personal finance advisors, tax accountants and so on.

Product/ Hands-on Creation

Others build products right from the beginning as they enjoy inventing and creating new tools or gadgets. Product companies take longer to develop than the service-oriented business due to the initial financial investment and the additional time it takes to build and test the product in the market. Many product developers use the lean methodology to build a minimum viable product (MVP) to get early market feedback before further development and testing.

Online Services/ Platforms

Online services and platforms frequently use blogs or other content to drive traffic to the site and sell additional services or products to their site visitors. Some build a platform or a subscription service to cater to a specific niche market. Such platforms-driven services require considerable work upfront but can later become somewhat passive with occasional monitoring or tweaking as and when required. Income sources can include ads and affiliates, or monthly subscriptions and related products.

eCommerce shop

An eCommerce shop is an online extension to a typical retail store and generally stock their own or other third-party products for sale. They might either sell physical products such as for a pet store, or digital products such as software tools or ebooks.

Small Franchise

For those who prefer the least amount of risk, a franchise type of business might be a good fit. This would require an upfront cost to be paid to the parent company that operates the core business. As a franchisee, you can benefit from the existing brand name and customer base of the parent company and brand. Each franchise business has its own method of operation and the process is determined by the parent franchising company. Some may offer additional training to your employees and there might be an additional fixed or sales-based cost to be paid to the franchising company on a regular basis.

Retail store

A retail store is basically a physical store in a particular niche such as a pet store, or say a book store, a stationary store, grocery store, clothing store and so on. The primary investment for a retail store is the shop or space for the store itself. In addition to this, there will be a cost for purchasing all the inventory, a system for tracking inventory, organizing the shelf spaces, and a payment system or kiosk.

ENTREPRENEUR TRAINING

The best place I would suggest starting with is the WikiHow article on How to Become an Entrepreneur. Be sure to complete the quiz questions and also go through the Community Q & A listed at the end of the web page. As suggested in this article, a general know-how of business, economics and marketing would make a good foundation. This learning can be part of a college course curriculum or can even be gathered by some intense reading or online courses. Here is a great list of free and affordable online courses on entrepreneurship. Also go over all your other skills and strengths which you think are beneficial to starting or running the type of business that interests you.

Just keep it simple and know that your emotional strengths will be key to your longterm success as an entrepreneur. There will be some ups and downs as you venture into entrepreneurship and you should focus more on the learning than the outcome especially in the initial years.

PERSONAL CHALLENGES

The Greater Risk

There is always a risk of failure when starting any new business. Failure is a necessary ingredient for future success in any business; practically no business person can ever claim to have succeeded without facing failures at various points. But rather than look at all outcomes as failures or successes, it is important to look at them as serious learning experiences. In any case, be sure to limit your financial investment in any business until you see specific positive signs of income or profitability.

Fear and Confidence

One of the biggest challenges in running a business is in learning to spring back from failures and to see all failures as a process of learning the trade. Rather than crouch and get dejected by one or more failures, as a business person you need to be able to analyze your actions critically and run a series of small experiments to know if you’re on the right path.

Society’s Fears and Warnings

There are many among friends and family who may try to dissuade you from starting a business and it may not be always easy to convince everyone, nor should you even try to do so. Those who really care about you will eventually understand what entrepreneurship means to you and then support you at the most critical times.

But as for the naysayers, it is best to stay away from them and also best to not discuss much about your business plans with most people, especially not until you have start to see adequate success in your business.

NO ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL

Trial and Error

Very fixed views are not helpful in business as there will be many challenges that will test your beliefs and values. So it is best to stay light, agile and alert as a business person and test and experiement continuously to see what works and what doesn’t in business.

Partners and Role Models

Also, though it might occasionally help to get guidance from mentors and role models, this might work well for some people but not for others. So keep a careful watch on what works for you and what doesn’t. There are some people for whom having business partners is not only fun but also essential for running and growing the business. Whereas for others, nothing will work until they make the effort to work completely through their own self effort. So keep an unbiased and close watch on what does and does not work for you and then find your own unique path to business success.

Testing and Incremental Changes

If you are planning to build a product, share the idea with some people either online or offline. Online forums such as Quora or Yahoo or Facebook might be good to get feedback on an idea, or you can create a simple signup form and drive traffic to it with some Google or FB ads and see how well it converts. If it appears its converting well, then perhaps this might be a good idea to invest your time and resources in.

Build only the minimal features and then get further market feedback before working further. The most important thing is to just keep moving and build and test the idea quickly without too much over-thinking. Then you will quickly know if the idea is worth it or not and either work on it further (or) move on to something else which has greater chances of success.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, I would like to say that its very important to follow your heart and then figure out what you want to do with your life. College education and a good job and a great career will work great for some of us. For others, even dropping out of college can lead to a great business. For some others, business success comes early in life and then they decide to go back to college at a later point to learn something new. Still others start off after college as an employee for many years, grow their careers and then at some point switch to entrepreneurship. So it all depends on what is right for you at each stage in life. But as long as you listen to your inner self, you can make lesser mistakes and make any mistakes much sooner to get to the life that’s right for you.

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