While nowadays, seems cool to skip college to launch a startup, there are still quite a bit of aspiring entrepreneurs who still choose to go to college first. Their reasons can range from wanting the degree safety net, maybe they don’t have a solid idea yet, or their parents pressured them to go. Regardless, there are a couple things you can do during these years to prepare yourself for the world of entrepreneurship when you graduate, here are 10 of them:
Befriend everyone with majors that compliment your abilities.
College is the best time to find potential business partners and co-founders for your projects. You’re in an environment where you can easily meet new people everyday. You will not have this luxury when you go out into the real world, so take advantage of it. If you’re great at marketing a product, but don’t know how to code, you’d better be connecting with as many people as you can in the computer science department and vice versa.
Learn to win people over that you don’t get along with.
Knowing how to get along with different types of personalities is a valuable skill not many can master. While everyone else will act like it’s still high school, picking and choosing the people they like, you can use this time to teach yourself how to handle and influence people who you normally wouldn’t get along with. Trust me, having this ability is going to be very handy when you’re managing a team or networking in the future.
Find a significant other or get laid as much as you can.
There are two ways to approach this. It’s been said that having a quality significant other increases your chances of success, so you can use your time in college to find that one person who will be your partner in crime for life. On the other hand, we understand that it takes time and you can’t simply go out and expect to find that person. You can use college as a time to hook up with people and have no-strings attached sex. When you’re building a company, you’re not going to have time to go out and focus on getting laid, so you’d better enjoy it now while your responsibilities are still minimal.
Do all the stupid things you can to get it out of your system, but don’t go overboard.
College is arguably a once-in-a-lifetime experience if you attend at the expected age. There is something unique about experiencing college when you’re young instead of when you’re older and you look like a parent compared to everyone else. Use this time to have unique experiences and leave room to do stupid stuff with your friends. You won’t have this luxury once you’re building a company and need to keep a good reputation. However, don’t go too overboard or you risk collecting skeletons in your closet that wil bite you in the ass down the line (i.e. Snapchat Founder).
Constantly think of creative ways to make money.
Many entrepreneurs I know recount thinking of creative ways to make money back when they were younger. Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son has noted in the past that during his younger years, he’d think of at least one new entrepreneurial idea everyday. One of the biggest things you’re going to be focused on is actually making money off your product when you start a business. College is the perfect time to prime your mind to think creatively when it comes to producing innovative ideas.
A mentor doesn’t have to be that untouchable millionaire that has no time to meet with mortals like you. My personal rule of thumb was to always try and learn from people that are simply better than me. If I made $10 an hour, I’d get to know and learn from people who made $20 an hour. If I’m a basketball player who has a crappy jump shot, I can learn from someone who shoots better than me, they don’t need to be in the NBA. However, finding an all-star mentor is not impossible either; Ryan Holiday has a great post here on finding quality mentors.
Execute your ideas.
One of the best ways to prepare for entrepreneurship is to get actual hands on experience under your belt. If you have an idea you want to execute, just do it! While most of your time will be spent in school, allocate some time to building upon your ideas. In the words of Robert Green:
“When you’re 20 years old, just start your business and in two years you’re going to learn. It will probably fail but you’re going to learn a million times more than in business school.”
Even if your chances of failure are high due to lack of experience, you are going to learn so much in the process. The best part about being in college is the fact that your priority is getting your degree, so you can afford to fail on your entrepreneurial ventures while you are a student.
Get a temporary part-time job.
Though it may sound counterintuitive, getting a job in college does three things:
1.) You know what it’s like being a simple worker and not the boss.
2.) You can analyze and look at the things your superiors do right and wrong and apply it in the future.
3.) You better understand workplace culture and can get ideas of how you’d like your company culture to be in the future.
No matter what the job is, whether it’s a barista at Starbucks or an internship at a corporation, you can fulfill those three points one way or another. Once you think you’ve learned enough, feel free to jump to another job that’s in a different industry. The side cash is also not bad either.
Study! Study! Study!
While you’re studying away for your classes, allocate some time to know the ins and outs of the industry your potential business will be in. Having the idea is great, but if you don’t take the time to figure out details like market size, competition, and potential for growth, your idea is simply a dream, not a goal.
Taking the time to travel or study abroad can broaden your horizons and help you come up with great ideas you normally wouldn’t come up with when you’re at home. Go to places you think you’d like to launch your startup and see if the atmosphere fits with your vision. You might even meet people along the way that are willing to pursue that vision with you! Lastly, your experiences in traveling could also make for great stories; people love those who are cultured after all.