Back to school: How to be a student-entrepreneur

Every year, towards the end of August, comes a time where all fun and game have to end. It’s the time to go back to school. But for entrepreneurs, work is not a seasonal activity or a part-time job. So how do they manage a business get good grades? That’s exactly what we do at Uvolt : we are a team of student-entrepreneurs. Here are our tips and tricks to being a successful student-entrepreneur.

Antony Diaz, Founder and CEO of Uvolt, CEGEP student at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf

Use your school’s resources

It’s crucial that you use school as an advantage rather than a constraint. Whether you’re in high school, in college or in university, your school has a plethora of resources accessible to you only because you’re their student. Let’s start with your teachers. Never forget, many of them are specialized in various subjects and we’re more than sure they will be interested to help you and possibly even become your mentor. People are interested in what you do. Don’t be afraid to tell them about it.

Also, most universities have startup programs associated to them. For example, we’ve had some incredible support from Concordia University’s District 3, École de Technologie Supérieure’s Centech and McGill University’s Dobson Center for Entrepreneurship.

Integrate your business into your schoolwork

Feel free to go see your teachers after class and ask them how you can apply your schoolwork to your business. In some cases, you might also find it reasonable to ask if you could be evaluated on a certain aspect of your business. In a management class, you can ask to be tested on your business plan. For example, in French class, last year, Antony made his pitch in front of his class as an oral presentation. Not only did he get great feedback from his teacher, he also made sure people remembered Uvolt.

Talk about your business. A lot.

School is also a great place to meet business partners. You know someone who’s as passionate as you about innovation and entrepreneurship? Take the time to have lunch with that person. Work with them in teams to see if there’s chemistry between you. Chances are, if you work well with that person at school, you’ll work well with them in business.

It’s also important to remember that the more you talk to your teachers about your business, the more they might understand if you have to miss class for your project.

Marc-Antoine Bonin, our Co-Founder and CFO, has a pretty compelling story to prove it: “I remember in one of my business classes, I told my teacher I had to skip a test for an important business meeting. My teacher told me if I wasn’t there for the test, I was going to have a zero. I told him I didn’t care, because the meeting was simply too important. When I saw my grade online, my teacher had given me 100% to reward me for my dedication.”

Organization is key

The key to managing such a tough schedule is organization- something our Founder and CEO, Antony Diaz, masters like no one else. Have a detailed online agenda, which you can access from both your phone and your computer. An online agenda is easier to manage than a paper agenda because you can’t forget it at home, and it’s way easier to schedule repetitive meetings and to figure out whether you have the time to do something or not. At Uvolt, we use Asana. It’s an awesome tool to help you with your schedule. You setup tasks, with due dates, which can then be exported into your calendar.

With an online agenda, you can schedule, as Antony does, a Mandarin class every morning of the week at 6:00 AM, online classes during the weekend and mandatory family time on Sunday mornings in only a couple of clicks.That way, you see exactly which time slots are empty and how much time you have scheduled for each meeting during the day.

Also, for those with who you have too many meetings to schedule in advance- like your Co-Founder- share your schedules with each-other. It’ll be much easier to plan your days according to both of your schedules, rather than doing it yourself and then having to do it over again with that person.

If you want to stay on top of things, you have to master your own schedule. No matter how packed it gets, if everything is organized and you know exactly when you’re going to accomplish each task, you’ll make your life much easier and succeed both in school and in business.

Overall, everything revolves around passion, dedication and organization. Show off your business, and remember to do so exactly when you scheduled it in your calendar. See you in class!

-The Uvolt Team