Ah, college. The few precious years of your life spent safely exploring newfound independence, while learning some important lessons without even realizing it. It's no coincidence that colleges are becoming a hotbed for budding entrepreneurs to start building their business dreams.
Many of the business world’s greats knew they wanted to be entrepreneurs from a young age. What they didn’t necessarily have is wisdom from those who had gone before them.
We asked eight experienced entrepreneurs what their advice for college entrepreneurs would be. Here's what they had to say:
Build a Support Network
One of the biggest pieces of advice is to make sure you have a solid support network. You need people to give you advice, pick you up when you’re feeling down, and help you stay true to your mission.
“Surround yourself with people who dream, dare, and do. Who you associate with can shape your personality, actions and outcomes. Being an entrepreneur entails a different lifestyle from everyone else. It's scary. But find your tribe of people who can inspire you, support you and teach you. There's nothing better than people who are always in search of growth challenging each other and motivating each other.”
- Dr. Perpetua Neo, founder of Psychotherapy & Coaching – Brighton & Hove, and Online
“Always have a trusted advisers who will be 100% honest with you. It can be difficult to hear the critiques of something you are so passionate about, but an outside view is incredibly valuable. You can't read the label from inside the bottle.”
- Becca Booth, founder of Trout Marketing
Never Stop Learning
You’re in college, so learning is your day-to-day, but don’t leave that behind when you leave the classroom.
“Find people who are doing what you want to do, and ask them a million questions.”
- Kaleigh Moore, founder of Lumen
“Read, read, read. You can never know too much. Understanding the challenges and opportunities of the many pieces that create a product have been imperative to my success.”
- Oleg Korneitchouk, serial entrepreneur and Director of Marketing at SmartSites
Stay Focused and Ask For Help
Big picture thinking is great, but sometimes you need to hone your focus on the urgent to-do’s to get your idea off the ground.
“Think small. Think about today. What needs your attention right now? What needs to get done in this moment so that tomorrow is victorious? When you begin thinking in terms of the next step instead of the next big break, you begin to take control of your entrepreneurial path. Then, your wishes turn into your dreams.”
- Bridget Chambers, founder of Bridget Chambers Coaching, Inc.
When you’re working on that to-do list, you may find there are some things that are just beyond your skillset, or you can’t fit in to your 24-hour day. That’s where the support network we talked about earlier comes in.
“Don't be afraid to ask for help. Most all successful business people reach a point somewhere along their personal and business paths where they run out of ideas, hope, and even answers. These are temporary moments of despair or sheer terror in some cases but this is also where your friends, family, and mentors come in to help you. People want to help you and see you succeed.”
- David Burrows, co-founder of Laundri
College is hard. Starting a business is hard. Starting a business in college can be super hard. That being said, you’re spending your time doing something great, so keep your commitment to your idea strong.
“You will never 'waste' your time being an entrepreneur. The lessons you learn in starting and growing a business will surpass even the very best lecture you attended or text book you read on the subject. So find something you are passionate about and start building something of value.”
- Paul Towers, founder of Lyfe
“Let the journey take you where it will! Don't stress about who you'll be in 10 years. These things work themselves out.”
- Emma Siemasko, founder of Stories By Emma
Keep on Learning
Your entrepreneurial journey will always be unique to you, but it's important to remember that others have gone before you — and discovered some key insights. At the end of the day, how to build your business and follow your dream as an entrepreneur is up to you. But these tidbits of advice can give you some help and inspiration along the way!