After six years of being a female entrepreneur and having built four profitable businesses (and sold one) I wanted to share with you some learnings which I hope might encourage more students to pursue entrepreneurship.
University is the perfect time to try entrepreneurship
It was not until my last year of Commerce Liberal Studies in 2010 that I “discovered” entrepreneurship. I remember meeting people who were part of an entrepreneurial society and they told me to read the “4 Hour Work Week” and invited me to events where we would listen to the stories of successful entrepreneurs. I was amazed to learn that it was possible to run your own business. I wish I had learned this earlier because when you are a student you have a huge amount of flexibility to try new things and make mistakes. The worst-case scenario, if the entrepreneurial pursuits fail, is wasting some time and money (which, let’s be honest, would be spent on Netflix or in the bar anyway!).
Joining entrepreneur societies and trying to start a business will be a complete eye opener, incredibly fun, expose you to amazing people and, if nothing else, will give you some real-world experience to talk about in your graduate interviews. I’ve met many people who have started a fun side hustle while at university which has turned into a thriving business.
Learn the skills of the future at university
I wish I had taken the time to identify the skills that are incredibly relevant to business and ensured I studied these both in my degree and also in my spare time. Any IT skills, accounting, business systems, coding and sales would have helped me get ahead faster.
At university you have access to some of the smartest students, professors and resources available- I would strongly recommend you take the time to learn as much as you can rather than selecting courses which might be less demanding or more familiar.
Make a bucket list of people who inspire you… and meet themBeing a student provides you with an incredible opportunity to meet people because almost every successful person wants to help the younger generation. I wish I had made a bucket list of all the people who inspired me, and then found someway to meet them for a coffee and learn all I could.
You could, for example, interview them for the university student magazine/blog or reach out to them to see if you could do a short volunteer internship. Your proactive character and willingness to learn will be remembered and put you in the path of opportunity.
Lay the building blocks now to reap the rewards laterIt’s so important to take the time to think about your ideal life and some of the dreams you want to realise in 5, 10, 15 years and work backwards to lay the building blocks now. I remember I had the dream to be able to take a year off when I was 28 and travel the world while still earning an income.
It was because of this clear dream that I pursued entrepreneurship and I set my businesses up so that I could work from any location. It took lots of small decisions over the course of 5 years but they all led towards this dream that I am now realizing.
Sit down and take the time to imagine your ideal lifestyle and then plan backwards. This roadmap will be invaluable when you are making decisions about your life and it will guide you towards your dreams.
Enjoy the journeyWhen I was in university I spent so much time worrying about the future and fretting that I was not achieving everything soon enough. Since then, I’ve read many books and had many experiences which have taught me to enjoy the journey.
Happiness and peace comes from making progress towards goals you have set for yourself. It’s important to build enjoyment into your life everyday because each time you achieve a dream you will set yourself another. Currently, I’ve set myself some huge business goals but I also ensure that everyday I take the time to spend with friends, to do sports and hobbies I love and to be grateful for what I have.
If you want to learn more about enjoying the journey then start by read Eckhart Tolle “The Power of Now”, “Search Inside Yourself” and “Man’s Search for Meaning” – invaluable lessons will be learned.
TakeawaysYour time at university offers you a huge opportunity to learn, understand and also think about what kind of life you want to lead and what dreams you have. There has never been a better time to become an entrepreneur or to achieve the life you dream of.
If you want to take that next step, here is some great idea:
- Join your university entrepreneur societies
- Ensure you choose subjects and courses teach you skills important for business
- Read the “The 4 Hour Work Week” by Tim Feriss
- Volunteer your time with successful entrepreneurs in Sydney. You can read the “Top 30 under 30” BRW, and “Young Rich List” and Telstra Business Awards, to give you an idea who is doing well
- Read, Read, Read - blogs, business books, business biographies
Erin Young graduated from a Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies) in 2010. She founded Zen Green Matcha Tea, the leading Australian matcha tea brand in 2012. Erin now owns and runs three successful companies including expanding her tea business into the USA under the brand Evergreen Matcha. Erin operates her businesses remotely and has spend the past 2.5 years working from over 27 countries. You can learn more about her green tea products here; Matcha Tea.