I’m sitting in a café in Durham, North of England – the frosty air sweeps in whenever the door opens, it’s snowing outside but nice and snug in here. I take a sip of my strong expresso.
It’s been 2 years almost to the week that I graduated from my Masters degree in Durham University, a romantic ancient city with a castle and cathedral in the North of England – and I’m back in Durham for a visit. For me, University = good times. I matured, got fit, fell in love and got some brains. However I’ve learnt a hell of a lot in the short time since I’ve left – I wanted to share some of that with you.
Are you a student entrepreneur? Or in a student startup? – this article’s for you.
I believe there are few harder transitions than when you graduate from the structured and secure world of university – to the unstructured and risky world of entrepreneurship. And you learn some big hard lessons, fast.
I previously wrote an article on why Entrepreneurs should not bother with an MBA. This article is different. It’s written for those currently in university and planning to pursue entrepreneurship afterwards. It’s a collection of the biggest lessons I learnt since leaving university and what I’d do if I was in your shoes and back there now.
Here’s my 7 lessons to
Think you deserve to be successful because you got a 1st, or studied hard, or went to a good university. This thinking might work if you’re going corporate – but not in entrepreneurship my friend.
When you start your business – you start from scratch again. Nobody owes you anything and your college degree means nothing. The guy who never finished school has the same chance of success as you do. It’s quite humbling when you realise this.
But if you had what it takes to do great in university I believe you’ll have the confidence & determination to make your startup business a success.
Top tip: Be humble – and be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.
2. Think you know it all (you don’t, trust me)
Following from the previous point – just as in the world of entrepreneurship a degree doesn’t mean success – so too, knowledge of all the theory in the world, also doesn’t mean success.
Entrepreneurship is more about action than planning (or at least a healthy mix of both).
I never suffered too much from the first point of ‘expecting anything’ (see above) but I did suffer from thinking I knew it all (and probably still do to a degree – this is probably not a bad thing for an entrepreneur, but that’s a different topic).
I learnt all the theory in university, knew all the models to forecast growth and won 4 business plan competitions for a business I went on to launch in my final year of university – I was sure success was a formality.
The business went on to fail.
What I learnt is that this theory is good, but it’s not enough on it’s own – you need to learn just as much (probably more) on the practical side as you do on the theory side. The earlier you begin this, the better
For example, do you know to get professional liability insurance to protect your business? That’s something that’s not emphasized much in schools but is definitely an integral part of your future business.