When you graduate college, you have two main paths to pursue. The first is polishing your resume and seeking out your first post-college job.
The second is riskier, but enticing – becoming an entrepreneur. The great part about this option is you can work on it while working a standard job.
However, before you get carried away with visions of starting the next unicorn start-up, there are a few things you should know about an entrepreneur’s journey.
1. Most Fail At Least Once
This definitely isn’t the news you want to hear, but failure is just part of being an entrepreneur. Some fail simply because they give up. Others can’t get their ideas noticed. Some don’t have the resources to keep their startup going. Whatever the reason, you have to be strong willed to be an entrepreneur because the odds aren’t in your favor.
The good news is 80% of new businesses last at least a year. Yet, five years later, only half of those businesses still exist. Only a third make it to 10 years. If you want to help beat those odds, look at Entrepreneur’s Top 20 Reasons Startups Fail to avoid common mishaps.
2. Entrepreneurs Are Master At Networking
Entrepreneurs have to be great a networking. You’ll need to market your ideas, find partners, hire team members, acquire funding and much more. Plus, having the right connections helps you get your business noticed faster. The sooner your idea takes off, the more likely you are to start seeing profits and be more successful.
3. Your Idea Needs Refining
Read most articles about becoming an entrepreneur and they’ll tell you the main thing you need to succeed is passion. While that’s true, passion for your idea isn’t all you need. The top reason startups fail, according to Entrepreneur, is no market need. By taking the time to research market need and refining your idea to better meet what consumers want, you’ll stand a better chance of success.
4. You’ll Need Mentors
Why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to? Mentors have been there and done that. They’ve failed and found success. Stop looking at every other business and entrepreneur as competition. Instead, seek out mentors to help guide you. Sometimes, especially as a recent college grad, it’s easy to be overconfident. You’re also biased about your ideas.
Having someone to help warn you of obstacles, introduce you to valuable connections and establish a clear business plan is vital to taking your ideas to the next level. Inc. even recommends creating a board to advise you and support you.
5. Start Small (And Cheap)
Odds are, you probably don’t have thousands to invest to start your business. However, if you start small and cheap, you can build capital along the way. You might have to get a traditional job temporarily, though. For instance, if you’re creating a hand-made product, sell on Etsy or eBay first before branching out to your own site.
Look for low-cost or free entry points to start your business. This also gives you a way to test consumer need before investing large sums of money.
6. Finances Won’t Be Easy
Financing your ideas won’t be easy. Straight out of college, it might not be easy to get large loans. Plus, if you’re paying off student loans, your personal finances might be tight. These leaves you looking for investors, which may include friends and family. Of course, crowd-funding sites are a good starting point too, but only if you can deliver on the promises you make. You’ll definitely want to have a detailed business plan ready to help with funding.
7. You’ll Work Harder Than Everyone Else
It’s a myth that entrepreneurs have these carefree lifestyles all the time. You might only work a few hours a week after your business has taken off, but until then, you’re likely going to work longer and harder than those who choose to work traditional jobs. Of course, it’s not uncommon for employees in 9 to 5 jobs to take home work to avoid getting behind. It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to put in 10 to 12 hours a day during the week and sneak in some time on weekends too.
Entrepreneur Grant Cardone even recommends putting in 14 to 18 hours a day during the first year. While that sounds insane, reaching millionaire status at an early age might make it worth it if you truly believe in your idea.
8. Don’t Ruin Your Chances With Comparisons
Most importantly, stop trying to compare yourself with other entrepreneurs, especially those who succeed right out college. Some get lucky and others already have ample financial backing from day one. Focus on yourself and your own idea and forget about trying to be everyone else.