So you are thinking of leaping into entrepreneurship? Maybe it’s been something that has been on your mind for a long time. If you are like most entrepreneurs, you’ve been dabbling in business most of your life without even calling it entrepreneurship. Think back to when you were a child: did you have lemonade stands? Were you selling cookies for the local Girl Guides chapter? Did you offer to do chores for money around the house? Then you may have been destined for a career as an entrepreneur much longer than you’ve been consciously thinking about it. But what should you do now that it’s on your radar? Should you just start a business or should you go to college?
College Isn’t for Everyone
Many successful entrepreneurs will tell you that they didn’t go to college; many didn’t even finish high school. But many more will stand on their soapbox and tell you firmly that you must get an education to be successful in life. So who is right?
It’s not about who is right. It’s about what is right for you. Quitting high school never sounds like a good idea, but for some people, it is unavoidable. Especially if teenagers had to help out around the house or earn money to pay bills. Some young people don’t have what it takes to sit in a college classroom and focus for hours at a time – but that doesn’t make them any less capable of running a multi-million dollar business. In fact, many entrepreneurs are self-proclaimed ADHD sufferers, and many more are being treated for their attention deficit disorders. For some reason, the ability to change tasks quickly has always been touted as a skill entrepreneurs need, but a college diploma is not one of them.
Ask Yourself These Questions About Going to College
When you think about going to college versus starting a business, there are several questions you need to ask yourself:
- Are you ready to strike out on your own and start your business from scratch or would you benefit from a few more years of maturing and learning about yourself and the world?
- Do you have money to invest in a business right now? Would getting a degree add legitimacy to your business building and enable you to get access to money that you could use to start your business later? For example, earning a business degree seems like a logical place to start in college, and it could help you earn a great job for a few years to build a nest egg to launch your business in a few years.
- Do you have the interest and desire to attend college? Don’t just do it because your parents are telling you to do it. If you are older than 18 and have been considering college over starting a business, ask yourself the same question: do you see yourself sitting in a classroom for up to 8 hours a day learning?
- What is the value of the education in the short term versus the long term?
- What learning experience do you expect to get when you participate in either venture?
When you answer these questions, make sure you are answering them from a place of authenticity. Don’t use your parents’ or your teachers’ words. It’s your life, and you get to decide what you want to do with it.
What’s the Bottom Line?
So do you need to go to college to be an entrepreneur? In short, no. Do you ever need to go to college? No. Should you go to college in your are thinking of being an entrepreneur? It might not hurt. Here’s why:
- Being in college gives you a chance to explore your work ethic, dedication to business, and figure out what you are good at.
- Being in college gives you access to people, places, and experiences that you might not have had otherwise.
- Being in college gives you a chance to test your theories and study things based on your business idea.
Oh wait, building a business does all of these things as well. So the question remains then: do you want to go to college or the college of life? Either answer is going to move you forward and help you get to where you want to go. Many people take the less direct route and go to college for a few years, or go back to college to get a degree or designation that will add credibility to their business and prepare them for certain aspects of business ownership. Based on that logic, ask yourself this: do you want some time to prepare for running your own business or do you want to just jump right in?
Do What is Best For You
There is no right answer. The right answer is the one that is the right fit for you. So consider your options and then consider this: could you do both? Could you go to college AND start your business. Side hustles are all the rage, and many students launch businesses in college these days. It’s worth considering if formal education is important to you and you think you can learn something that will help propel you into the next stage of your life. Just remember, there’s value in whatever you decide, but you must decide.