Thinking like an Entrepreneur in College

I wrote a brief commentary for Marketplace, a radio program that airs on NPR usually after "All Things Considered". The topic was "Thinking like an entrepreneur in college," since it’s back-to-school time. It aired a couple days ago.

Although I’ve done a couple dozen radio interviews / live conversations, I’ve never written anything in essay format. Much different than writing for print — I had a good time working with the producer to both write and record the piece in the studio (they mix and match your best lines).

I’m starting to like this "get paid to write" thing….

Text transcript below. Will I really be able to be entrepreneurial in college? Time will tell!

Most people, when they hear the word entrepreneur, think of someone who starts their own business.

And while that’s an accurate definition — I started my first company when I was 14 — it’s not the whole story.

Anyone can think like entrepreneur…even about going to college.

Acting like an entrepreneur means exposing yourself to randomness and being relentlessly optimistic.

But no matter how hard you try, you have to be in the right environment. That affects what kind of rebel you might become.

My parents instilled quiet confidence but they never said if you set your mind to it you can change the world.  They were sober.

So was I.  Local governments never go out of business and they have constant customer service needs. So, I created a software company filling those needs.

College has its own atmosphere and influences.

Some schools turn students into life-long learners and problem solvers. Others teach them how to be professional task masters.

But in the end it’s up to me to be as entrepreneurial as possible about my college experience.

I need to cold call professors I find interesting.

I need to do that old business thing known as networking, but in the sheltered world of higher ed, that means genuine friendship-building.

I need to remember that the benefit of going from an A- to A+ is probably not worth the all-nighters it would require. Just like companies need to ship, ship, ship and not tinker till perfection.

In other words, settle for good enough, not perfect.

Sure, like any good entrepreneur, I need to take risks, but this time of the intellectual sort. The college environment might be the one place where changing your mind is celebrated, not dismissed as flip-flopping.

Yes, famous entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs dropped out of college. But to pass up such a defining experience without trying it first?

That’s not what a true entrepreneur would do.

13 Responses to Thinking like an Entrepreneur in College

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *