If you’re currently in school, chances are that you are merely coasting by, dreaming of owning your own business at some point, but for now you’re focusing on your classes. Of course, being immersed in your schoolwork is definitely a good thing. After all, you’re in school to learn and to eventually earn a bachelor’s or more advanced degree. Still, if you want to get serious about entrepreneurship, it’s really advisable to start as early as you can. Why? Because entrepreneurship requires lots of initial failure. Getting started early will help you develop immunity toward failure so that you can hasten your success that much more quickly. Here’s how you may want to make use of your time in school:
1. Take business, economics, critical thinking, and public speaking courses.
Truth be told, you don’t have to be a business or economics major in order to be a successful entrepreneur. One of the most successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who ever graduated from my university was an English major. You should, however, take some courses that relate to numbers and money. Some schools offer classes specifically about entrepreneurship, but in lieu of these classes, take a couple of business and economics courses. Definitely take a speech or public speaking course, and certainly take an array of courses that encourage critical thinking. These can be in as diverse a field as English, philosophy, or Classical studies. In our globalized economy, be sure to take a foreign language course or two, specifically in Spanish, Chinese, French, German or Russian.
2. Join campus clubs that develop skills related to entrepreneurship.
Some universities have clubs that are specifically created for future entrepreneurs. Here is a pretty thorough list of universities that offer such clubs. Entrepreneur clubs, however, are not the only student organizations that will help you in your future career. Taking on a leadership role in any organization, from student government to environmental clubs to clubs dedicated to volunteering, are all a good start. ToastMasters is a great public speaking club that helps develop your speaking skills while also networking with local professionals.
3. Start a business. A business about anything.
You may be feeling overwhelmed by the idea of starting your own business now. What many students don’t realize is that you CAN start a simple business just to practice your skills. Let’s a call it a more grown-up version of the lemonade stand. For example, one of my friends in college started an online service that connected high school students with university student tutors. He did this his freshman year. Seven years later, his tutoring service has developed significantly and he runs the company full-time.
4. Immerse yourself in the business community outside of school.
One key ingredient in starting a business is starting and developing strong business relationships. Of course, it may be tempting to merely hang out with your own, more academic-minded peers, but there’s real value in going out into the community to start establishing business relationships early. There are many clubs for young professionals that are open to students, and there are also different events and volunteer organizations that attract business-minded people, like the industry trade associations and your local chamber of commerce.
To be sure, just because you prepare yourself for entrepreneurship in college, doesn’t mean that you’ll be a successful entrepreneur as soon as you graduate. The most important characteristic of a successful businessperson is patience. Hard work will eventually pay off, if you can persevere and wait for it. Good luck!
Katheryn Rivas is freelance writer and blogger who dedicates her time to discovering the latest online education trends. When she’s not writing, she can be found playing softball or reading a good book. She encourages your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.