10 Ways College Will and Won’t Prepare You for Entrepreneurship : Under30CEO 10 Ways College Will and Won’t Prepare You for Entrepreneurship : Under30CEO
Join the Under30CEO Community We deliver tips, tools and inspiration for your business. Daily to your inbox.

10 Ways College Will and Won’t Prepare You for Entrepreneurship

| April 25, 2011 | 7 Comments

business school

Because many entrepreneurs skipped college (Richard Branson, Michael Dell, Bill Gates), you may be wondering if college is the right choice for you.

Like most things in life, college is not perfect. However, while many entrepreneurs didn’t go to college, many still found their few years in college useful. As an entrepreneur and college graduate, I can easily say college is a great way to prepare for life as an entrepreneur.

First, my top 5 ways college WILL prepare you. Then, the 5 ways it won’t prepare you. And three bonus tips on getting the most out of college.

How College WILL Prepare You

1. The Basics

College will teach you the basics of business you will need to strive as an entrepreneur. For instance, when you have discussions with your team, you will need to know what ROI means, what the difference between a debit and credit is, and why you should become a corporation and not an LLC.

2. Learn to Learn

Great entrepreneurs have an uncanny ability to learn. College teaches us how to improve our learning. Spending most of your day reading, writing, and discussing helps refine your intellect and improve your thinking.

3. Networking

No entrepreneur ever accomplished anything on his own. There was always a team. In college, you are surrounded by people with similar interests. You will make some of your best friends in college. These friends and colleagues are the people who will help you accomplish your goals.

4. Discovery

Almost every entrepreneur is worldly and well rounded. They’ve been exposed to other countries, lifestyles, and people. College can help guide you through this discovery process. It exposes you to new books, new ways of thinking, and new people. You may journey to another country for study abroad or visit your auditorium to hear a speech from a Holocaust survivor.

5. Time Management

Let’s not lie: it’s very difficult to manage time in college. You have school work, sports, clubs, events, work, and an intense social life. If you want to succeed, you need to learn how to properly manage your time. An entrepreneurs life is just as chaotic as life in college. You need to learn to be your own manager and manage your own time.

How College WON’T Prepare You

1. Emotional Readiness

Being an entrepreneur is an emotional roller coaster. Some days, you feel like you are conquering the world. Other days, you are ready to call it quits and give up. College may teach you the basics of accounting, but it won’t teach you how to deal with these emotions of being an entrepreneur.

2. Practical Knowledge

College is ALL theory. I’ve noticed that 75% of my college business classes don’t apply to real world business. You’d imagine that marketing 101 would teach you marketing techniques. Not at all.

3. How to Start

It takes courage to actually begin a business. Everyone can put together a business plan, but few can actually press go. Business schools leave all of this out. Instead of teaching us how to raise $12 million, why not teach us how to sell our first product?

4. Who Is the Professor

You’d expect someone teaching you how to use a computer to have experience using computers. It’s not that way in business school. Most of my professors had no practical experience in the business world. Many were trained academically.

5. There Are No Grades in Real Life

College teaches you to follow a pattern: show up to class, do your homework, study, and you will get an A. In the real world, there are no patterns and there are no grades. Many first time entrepreneurs freak out when they realize this. I did for sure. I thought if I could find a book that said do this, then do that, you will succeed. There is no book like this. You have to create your own path.

How Do You get the Most out of College?

1. Learning Doesn’t Stop When Class Ends

Find any and all opportunities to learn. Go to the library and read, even if the books aren’t assigned. Attend speeches and presentations. Get involved with clubs. And don’t limit yourself to the business school. In college, I went to presentations by famous literary authors, saw plays, and visited art galleries.

2. Start a Business

If you want to start a business, why not start it in college? Just doing this will put you ahead of 99% of the entrepreneur majors. Like is commonly said, you can’t learn something without doing it. You will learn more by starting a business than school can teach you.

3. Get a Mentor

One day, you will meet a professor who you just click with. Everything he or she says resonates with you. When you find him or her, ask if he or she will mentor you.

As you see, there were some aspects of college that were a complete waste of time. At the same time, I realize that if I didn’t go to college, I would not have achieved any of my current success.

For those entrepreneurs who went to college, do you agree with this list? What can you add?

See averett university online

If you’d like to read more by Brandon Yanofsky, you can check out his blog on Small Business Marketing. He also runs a small business providing Salon Marketing.

Opt In Image
Awesome People + Awesome Places
Travel around the world while making new friends

Under30Experiences curates awesome experiences around the world for young travelers.

Tags: , ,

Category: Startup Advice

  • http://start-upz.blogspot.com/ Chris Ziomek

    I especially agree with “Start a Business” as a way to get the most out of college. In college, I worked for two brothers who started a pizza delivery business that quickly dominated the brands of Dominos, Pizza Hut, etc. The brothers optimized all aspects of their business: marketing strategy, operational efficiency, employee motivation, etc. And, they were able to build wealth instead of debt in college!

  • http://www.twitter.com/thomasfrank09 Thomas Frank

    Awesome article. I started my business in high school and now I’m running it in college alongside two part-time jobs. The time management I have to do is insane, but it’s preparing me for the future. I really would emphasize the networking aspect that you mentioned – networking alone is worth the student loans I have because of the opportunities it’s presented me. Classes are more filler time for me now.

  • http://www.blistmarketing.com Brandon Yanofsky

    Thanks for the comment Thomas.

    It’s great that you got started so early with your business. That’s my one regret: starting late. I didn’t start my business until my last semester of college.

    I’m sure I’ll be hearing about your business soon enough

  • http://www.blistmarketing.com Brandon Yanofsky

    Thanks for the comment Chris.

    You definitely hit on a point I left out: starting a business will male you money in college.

    I love hearing stories of people who use their businesses to finance their college expenses instead of just taking out loans.

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Virtual office assistant

    Wow, lots to digest. Thanks for generously sharing this useful info. Especially appreciate the acknowledgment that for some businesses, the goal may not be tens of thousands of fans but a few hundred solid ones. As far as i feel College is the place where foundation for further life is laid.


  • Kathy-Ann Fletcher

    This is a great article … I think it shows that rather than college being a waste of time it shows that you get success with or without college if you are willing to learn from all your experiences even school. I always thought that the college environment was the foundation for the rest of your life to develop an appreciation for learning and inquiry that will carry you into your career whether self-employed or otherwise … why many may fail outside of the university is not because of the university but due to the thought that all learning happens there. It serves a role in the learning but we all have to take responsibility for our own learning and career while learning and adapting on the go.