Being an entrepreneur in college
Juggling is fun! Right? I taught myself how to juggle when I was in middle school watching YouTube videos. I got pretty good. Now instead of dreaming about building a circus juggling has become a cool party trick and a lifestyle. Being an entrepreneur in college is like juggling three flaming torches while balancing on the precipice of a cliff. I must somehow manage my school work, build a product, and maintain a social life, in the hopes that I don’t burn myself or fall of the cliff. Ohh yeah and school isn’t free, so I often need to maintain a job on top of everything to pay for the school, pay for the product and pay for the social life.
So, does juggling still sound fun? Maybe not, but it’s no different than being a star athlete. Starting a business requires just as much, if not more, time day in day out. You sacrifice the nights out during the season so you can have even more fun during the championship celebration. Star athletes juggle everything because they are either obsessed with the game or obsessed with competition. Starting a company is a game and to be a student entrepreneur you need to be obsessed with the venture, you need to be so obsessed with what you’re doing that you will struggle through the stress, failures, and long nights.
When you were a kid there was something that you wanted to be when you grew up, a basketball player, astronaut, heck probably a fireman. Where are you now? Were you able to make that dream come true? Some people think that it must do with luck but they can’t be more wrong. We are in the place we are today because of the choices we have made up to this point. If you didn’t achieve your dream there is only one person to blame, yourself. For a student in college I constantly ask myself if I made the right choice.
When I grow up I want to be Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, I have dreamed about being Larry Paige since I was 8. I was so busy trying to be Mark Zuckerberg that I forgot to be Josh Hoeg. I was seduced by the grandeur of these billion dollar people, in reality you are 40 times more likely to be struck by lightning then become a billionaire. Pursuing the career that these incredible people have is difficult when you go to college. Considering that everyone on that list dropped out of college it sometimes makes me feel like I am going along the wrong path.
I have been doing a lot of thinking in the past couple weeks and I started to think about what these people have in common. They don’t juggle. They built their business instead of going to school instead of building a social life. Steve Jobs rejected his daughter, Elon Musk and his wife have divorced twice, Mark Zuckerberg kicked his best friends out of a company they helped him build. The success and power that these people have come at a price. These people choose to drop the other torches and get burned, so that they could build empires.
About once a week I come across an article or video talking about how awful school is and how dropping out is the right idea. It’s sort of like you’re starting a marathon, 4 hours late and spent the first four hours watching movies about marathon runners from a decade ago. It’s a weird position to be in. It feels irresponsible to drop out of college but it’s also irresponsible to spend money you don’t have. I am a slacker for not doing my homework but I am an overachiever because I spend 8 hours on a Friday night building a website. I am idealistic for wanted to be compared to Alexander the Great but I am falsely idolized by people that think I work harder than I actually do. As an entrepreneur in college I am a contradiction.
The hidden value to college is the people and the connections. College provides an excuse to meet with some of the most incredible people, all you need to say is that you’re a student trying to learn. Often your peers are valuable as they could be your potential business partners. Your teachers are the best connections to a particular field, all you need to do is spend time going to office hours taking an independent study or just meeting with them for coffee, they can get you jobs, experience and projects. Alumni are the third source of people you have access to. Denver University has some incredible alumni that I have access to simply because I go to the same school that they went to. School is important even if you don’t go for the education. You can gain access to tools that would cost you thousands like 3D printers and Laser cutters, free software and god knows how much free food students get.
I am not dropping out of college anytime soon, and as far as a social life I would rather build strong lasting relationships. I sure as hell am not giving up on my dreams just yet. But I know that I cannot keep juggling the way that I have been. Something needs change. I need more patience. I need to accept where I am today and prepare for tomorrow one day at a time, my time will come but I cannot rush it. I choose to be an entrepreneur in college and I don’t plan on wasting my time.