With the success of famous college dropouts like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs, several university students have the mentality that once you have a promising business idea, it’s best to leave school and pursue it. Some of them harbor fears of someone else getting the same business idea they have and pursuing it and getting established before they graduate, essentially making them the underdogs when they eventually start, and having to play catch-up with an already established competitor who has more funds, a larger customer base and possibly a better reputation. But there is also an argument to be made for staying in school apart from the obvious benefits. Things like having the expertise that comes with a degree in a particular field, having something to fall back on if your venture doesn’t succeed and getting a job to provide income that can support you and your business when you encounter dry patches are all valid reasons for an aspiring entrepreneur to avoid being a college dropout.
Successful entrepreneurs grow their own network of mentors and advisors as their companies grow. Your network of mentors and tutors can provide advice, help you past obstacles, introduce you to important contacts, identify sources of funding and help distribute your products and spread word about your services. Universities are the perfect place to find these mentors and advisors. Get in touch with faculty members who understand your target niche and learn as much as possible from them. Enlist these people to help with your venture and ask them to introduce you to others who might have the specific experience and skills you may need. The larger your network, the greater your chances of success. A college dropout, on the other hand misses out on these opportunities to make valuable connections which would come in handy later.
A university degree will secure a better future for you, on the odd chance that you aren’t the next Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or college dropout-turned-billionaire. The hard truth is that most startups will fail, and it’s not advisable to ignore the statistics because you think your business idea is foolproof. Even if it is, factors outside your control could also be responsible for your business failing. So it helps to have a degree that you can fall back on just in case worst comes to worst and your venture does not succeed. If you fail in business and lose your entire investment, you could still get a job and enjoy traditional job benefits: higher salary, faster career advancement, social recognition, etc.
- Cheap or free labour:
Successful entrepreneurs have a deep mastery of efficiency – they have a real flair for finding and utilizing resources other than money to get what they need. Most universities are full of free or low-cost resources for aspiring entrepreneurs. For example, students proficient in graphic design can help you develop your logo, website and brand imaging. Business Administration students can help you develop your product line and business plan. College dropouts will have less access to this pool of talent which comes for next to nothing. In addition, as a student you may have access to free or low-cost software for a variety of functions. So scope out all the resources available at your university and use the ones you need to begin developing your company.
- Test of entrepreneurship skills:
If you ask me, this is the greatest benefit you can derive from the process of starting your venture while still pursuing a university degree. Entrepreneurship demands passion, commitment, wisdom and multi-tasking skills. Completing your degree while building a business is harder than doing either one independently – but precisely that difficulty is what ultimately makes it a great test for your entrepreneurial ambitions. A college dropout would miss out on this early trial of their skills and commitment to their business venture. If you cannot reconcile your venture with a degree, then you will be under-equipped to manage it if it eventually gets hit with an equally difficult challenge. On the flip side, if you can overcome this challenge once – through planning, extra work, resource leverage, or any other tool – then you will likely be able to solve it again.