I knew that I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, even when I didn’t really know what an entrepreneur or entrepreneurship was. When I was graduating from college I didn’t really have any definitive direction I wanted to take in my career or life.
I really had nothing going for me in terms of a job or career, which was not a surprise given how much I bounced around in my college days from major to major. The one thing that was always in the back of my mind was that I wanted to work for myself.
When I moved back in with my parents after graduating from school, they gave me the standard parental pressure of having to get a job.
Like any good son would do, I did exactly what they asked and I started looking for a job. I found a job as a credit analyst at a small local bank and started my career there. I had no interest whatsoever in banking. I had no interest whatsoever in underwriting people’s credit, but there I was. That’s what I was doing.
I wasted five years after college working for other people. To be fair, it was not a complete waste as I did learn a great deal working for an entrepreneur.
Once I was “ready” to start my own business, I was married, had a mortgage and car payment. I saved up what I thought would be enough to survive until my new business started making money…
Wow was I wrong. I miscalculated by about 8 months and saved only 20% of what I actually needed. Luckily my wife was a practicing attorney and made enough to cover the shortfall, but it was not easy.
I started thinking about this the other day.
What would my life be like if I would have tried to start my own business right out of school, instead of going the more traditional route. I thought long and hard and I’ve come up with fifteen reasons why you should start a business right after graduating from college. Think of this article as me talking to a younger version of myself. Without further ado, let’s get into the fifteen reasons you should not get a job and you should start your own business after college.
1. What else do you have to do? You can always get a “traditional” job later
Think about it, right after you graduate from school, unless you’re one of these people that has a job lined up for you and has known for a long time exactly what you’re going to do, you’ll probably going to have to start looking for a job. Why not just kind of put all that effort into starting your own business?
Honestly, what else do you have to do? You don’t have much to do after graduating from college. If you’re anything like me you might be moving back in with your parents or maybe you’re still living on your college campus.
Even if you are working part-time, you should now have more time, as the time you spent at school and doing school work is now free time.
You really have nothing else to do, why not channel your extra time into starting a business?
Makes complete sense to me. It’s one of those things where you take advantage of exactly what you’re given in life. It is ok not to know exactly what you want in life when you are 21 or 22. You haven’t done anything yet. How would you know what you want to do next? Why not start a business?
2. You have the most free time you will ever have
You will have the most free time that you will ever have in your entire life. Right after graduating you are now done with all your classes, you’re done with your course work. You have all of this time and you have nothing to do.
Think about it. Later in life you are going to get married, you are going to have kids, you are going to get a dog. All of these things you are going to do are going to cut into the amount of time you are going to have to start a business. Not to say that you can’t start a business later in life, that’s actually what I did.
Right now you have the most amount of free time that you will ever have in your entire life. Why not take advantage of that?
3. You learn new tricks easily
Right after graduating from college, you have just mastered your ability to learn. It is the culmination of your schooling you are now pretty much at the pinnacle of your learning capabilities.
Anything that you are going to have to learn to start your business you should do so extremely easily, because you have mastered the art of learning throughout the time of your education.
Think about all the different classes you took that had little to no relevance on what you actually want to do or what you’re majoring in. Those nonsense classes will actually help you.
You are probably at the sharpest that you will ever be mentally once you finish with your college degree.
4. You have no major responsibilities
Right when you graduate from college you most likely have no responsibility whatsoever. No children, no family, there’s nothing holding you back. You can do pretty much whatever you want. Take advantage of that. Don’t sit around and do nothing.
Try and think about what you can do during a time when you have no outside responsibility. If you’re worried about student loans, if you’re worried about those kind of things, those are things that you can defer for up to a year. Why not take advantage of that first large deferral period that you have built into your student loans to start a business?
Be honest, you are most likely going to use the grace period even if you get a real job.
5. Having experience running a business makes you more attractive to future employers
Running a business is hard. All the things you are going to learn while trying to get your business off the ground are actually going to make you a more valuable employee if it doesn’t work out for you in the long run.
Most jobs that you are going to go after are going to be for working for a smaller employer. If you have gone through most of the trials and tribulations of starting and running a business yourself, you become extremely valuable to employers.
I know that I would love to hire anyone that had actually tried, even unsuccessfully, to run their own business. You are going to have a different level of insight. You are going to have all this experience. It’s going to actually make you more valuable to potential employers down the line.
6. Use it as an excuse to stay on campus for another year
On or near college campuses you can typically live cheaply, or live cheaper than you would to in other areas. You were able to afford it while you were in school. No reason you can’t afford it now that you have graduated.
If your parents were paying for housing while you were in school but will not longer do so, just get a part time job to cover rent and living expenses. There is typically no shortage of part time work around college campuses.
You should be able to scrape by on your college lifestyle rather easily.
There are pretty much no geographic limitations on where you can work from these days. Use living in a cheap location to your advantage.
Remote work is becoming very popular and while you are trying to start a business, you don’t know what you’re going to do yet, you can pretty much start it from anywhere, unless you are going to open a retail store or some other kind of service where you need an actual physical location, you’re no longer required to be in a specific location.
You’re not geographically restricted on what or who you can work with. Take advantage of that and stay in your college town for another year. Be one of those weird people that sticks around for another year after graduating.
7. You have access to cheap labor
When starting business, it’s most likely going to be only you until you at least have a customer or you have someone that is paying you. You will have access to cheap labor. Think about everyone that you just went to school with or that you just graduated with, plus all of your underclassmen friends that are always looking to make a quick buck here or there.
You have access to a cheap workforce that is one, highly educated, and two, does not require that much money. That can work as a strategic advantage when you’re starting out your business because you do have access to all of this cheap labor.
8. You are not missing anything by not getting a job
You are not really missing out on anything by not getting a job right after college. While a random entry level job may sound exciting to you, trust me, it’s not all that exciting.
What are you missing out on by not getting that crappy entry level job? I would say you are missing out on a lot of menial office work, or even worse, training for a position that you might not even like.
The first entry level positions are simple. You’re not doing complicated work. You’re not doing anything that’s too complicated.
What are you missing out by not getting that first job?
I would argue that you are not missing out on anything at all. Especially if you’re in a position where you do not know what you want to do. In this case you are definitely going to end up in a job that is not going to what you want to do in the long term.
Remind me, what are you really losing out on by not getting a job?
9. Scratch your itch early / No Regrets
If entrepreneurship is something that you’ve always wanted to do, why not start it right away? You have nothing holding you back at the moment. Take advantage. Get in the habit of doing what you want to do right out of school. It’s a great habit to build, and you’re going to benefit greatly by starting out sooner than many of your contemporaries that are going to end up taking jobs they don’t want, only to realize later that they want to start their own business.
Trust me. I took the more traditional route. I had three or four jobs and wasted 5 years before starting my own business.
Start working on it now. Scratch that itch sooner than later. Move forward without any regrets.
10. You will learn how to sell
Pretty much any business that you choose to run, you are going to have to learn how to sell. If you are unable to sell, you will not have any customers, without customers or clients you will not have a business.
If you think you are a terrible salesperson, this could be a great exercise to get you outside of your comfort zone, and start selling. Selling is a very important tool, even if you are going to end up working for someone else.
Think about the interview process. It is a sales process.
Think about trying to meet a significant other. That’s also a sales process. Sales will help you across your entire life. It’s a great skill to learn, and it is one that you will be required to learn when starting your own business.
11. You will learn accounting
Accounting is a valuable skill. You will have to master accounting if you are going to run your own business. You will have to figure out how to make more money than you spend. I know it sounds simple, but it is very important and actually, probably the most important thing you can learn to do in any business is make more than you spend.
It’s simple, but how do you keep track of what you are spending and how you’re spending?
That’s where accounting comes into play. You will learn to set up accounting systems from the ground up. It might not be anything too complicated at the beginning.
Maybe it’s just a spreadsheet to start, but the actual process is invaluable, because you will learn how to track your expenses. Then, you will also learn to track your income.
Quick tip. Your profit is the difference between the income and expenses!
12. It will help you figure out what you want to do with your life. Your likes and dislikes
If you have never worked a day in your life, if you’ve been privileged enough to make it through college and haven’t had to work, how do you know what you are going to like and dislike in the work force?
How do you even know what you want to do? Starting your own business is a great way to learn your likes and dislikes, and what you want to do and what you don’t want to do.
It’s a valuable experience going around and trying to sell products or services. Learn exactly what you want to sell to people. I don’t advocate going into a business that you’re passionate about. I recommend talking to people that know you and asking them, what they think you would be good at selling.
What do friends and family typically go to you for? Are you a good writer? Have you been ghostwriting other people’s papers for them?
Do you have computer skills? Have you been working on the side as a computer programmer or with some other computer skills?
What is a resource that people go to you for? You’ll be able to figure these things out while you are actually getting paid for it, and that’s quite advantageous.
13. You are accustomed to living modestly, also known as living on ramen
If you’re like most college students, you were eating ramen noodles more than once or twice a week. If you go and get a job right after school you are going to get accustomed to making extra money. Your lifestyle is going to expand into higher standards than you have right now.
All this means is you will have to save more money to start your business in the future. You are going to get used to a different lifestyle (more expensive) than you had as a college student.
Are you going to want to take a step backwards later if you are accustomed to driving a nice car. That car payment does not go away once you decide that you want to start a business in the future.
Right now you don’t have that car yet because you can’t afford it. You haven’t become accustomed to those sushi dinners because you can’t afford it. That’s an advantage. If you only bring in a little bit of money with your business, that is more money than you’re used to bringing in. It will be a success.
14. Your parents most likely want you to get a job
If your parents are anything like my parents were, they want you to get a job right away.
What better reason to start a business right after graduating from college then “not” doing what your parents want to do.
That’s what we’ve been doing our entire childhood. Don’t do what your parents want you to do. Do the exact opposite. I’m only half kidding. You should listen to your parents.
If your parents have had stable jobs for over 20 years, following their advice will most likely get you into a similar position. If a stable job is not what you are looking for, you should consider an alternate path.
There is no right or wrong. Only what you want or don’t want.
15. Be contrarian
This might be particular to me, but people like to call me a “contrarian” for contrarian’s sake. I will just say the exact opposite of everyone else because I don’t like fitting in. If you’re anything like me, you are probably a contrarian on some level. Entrepreneurship itself is pretty contrarian.
Everyone you are graduating from school with is getting a job. Why not be the exception and start your own business? Start now. Be a contrarian. You’ve been doing it for so long, why not continue that path?
Bonus: You will learn just how hard it is
Starting your own business is extremely difficult. If you have any misconceptions, or if I’ve told you anything that makes you think it is easy, you have misunderstood me.
Starting a business is one of the most challenging things you will do in your life. Why not start that challenge right after college? It will give you a greater appreciation for everyone that has been able to start a successful business.
If you have to go and work for someone else later you will know what it took to get that business off of the ground. Imagine the insights you will gain by actually having done all of the work yourself.
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