Is Entrepreneurship Right For College Students?

Adobe Stock image

What is The American Dream? Business ownership. Entrepreneurship seems like a mountain to climb for some - others crave the work.

Suppose you’ve identified your talents and talked to enough people. In that case, you’ll know exactly where you belong in the business world. The paradox while taking college classes is this: you’re not the same person year to year.

As a non-traditional student, changing majors exhausted me, frustrated me, and at times, caused hopelessness. I changed majors from business to environmental science and liberal arts, all the way to wanting to be a physical therapist assistant. As I matured, I wanted different things. This phenomenon of changing majors can plague college students in their academic or business careers.

What I discovered as I kept taking college classes is my love for writing. It inspires change, it challenges me and it allows me to engage in my favorite activity of all — meeting new people and going to new places. What does this have to do with college and entrepreneurship? I found a way to marry the two. You can do the same if you take it slow.

My first company, Mindful Marketing LLC, was born in 2020. This venture allowed me to tap into my potential in a way I never knew possible.

It was bliss.

It was terrifying.

I built two businesses and a non-profit from thin air.

I am a first-generation college student from Downriver. I owe my work ethic to my fellow residents of Downriver—some would dare say we work harder than Detroiters. Knowing how hard Detroiters also work, I’d say we work as hard as Detroiters.

To start my company, I became a photographer, journalist, graphic designer, social media manager, salesman, and, most terrifying of all - a business owner. I made it happen. The days of intimidation died. I no longer feared being a “business owner.”

Being a business owner means you make the rules, you set your schedule, you bring your visions to life - and if people are buying what you’re selling - you’re a business owner. Congratulations. The work has just begun.

If you start a business while going to college, how are you going to manage this with your classes?

I couldn’t.

There’s a famous Chinese Proverb that says: “The man who chases two rabbits catches none.” Allow me to confirm the validity of that statement. I couldn’t help myself and settle for one business venture and a part-time class load at Henry Ford College and Eastern Michigan University. Following Mindful Marketing birthed Kindred Care Corporation.

When business owners call their companies their “babies,” they’re not crazy. The brainstorming, learning, and elbow grease required to create any company are worthy of profound respect. Any company you’ve built with your name on it is sacred, period. Kindred Care was my baby - my love for helping others paid for me a fair, honest living.

I created programs for special needs adults and serviced elderly clients performing respite care. I collaborated with a graphic designer, and we formed a logo I loved.

Then, I created a non-profit and checked off one of the many boxes on my bucket list. I created United Atheltix, a non-profit that brings sports programs to low-income areas in Southeast Michigan.

Problem was - burnout exists. And worse, I couldn’t give the necessary attention to all my obligations. Some days, I didn’t know left from right or up from down.

That’s no way to live.

Logo design, hiring, legal complications, finances and more fall on you, and only you, as the business owner. Even if you outsource these tasks, a business owner’s shift is quite literally 24/7. Can you manage this while taking college classes?

Can you afford to start your business? Do you have a mentor to help you start a business? Can you combine these activities while getting grades worthy of the scholarship, degree, or graduate program you’re after? Can you afford to live well below your means while you attend college and create a business from nothing?

Buckle up. That lifestyle is the real shark tank - doing both college and business.

Here’s the main problem I faced: I evolved into a different person from year to year. In some years, I regressed in certain ways, while in others, I improved. What I wanted at 18 isn’t what I wanted at 19. What I wanted at 19 isn’t what I wanted at 22 - and so on.

One year I wanted one major, the next I wanted another. One year I wanted to start one business, the next I wanted to start another. By the time I found my love for entrepreneurship, I still had to crank out my degree. I couldn’t do all four things.

They say, “Pride always comes before the fall.” I’m one man with two hands and 24 hours. Eventually, I threw my hands up and had to start fresh.

My three babies - Mindful Marketing, Kindred Care and United Atheltix - are hibernated. Their time will come.

For now, a journalism degree is the one focus and only focus. It has to be this way.

Being your own boss isn’t all it’s cracked up to be - but once you’ve done it, you’ll never be the same. Find a mentor, find a life coach, manage your time, manage your finances and make a leap when the time is right. Most importantly - be honest with yourself.

Ideas don’t have an expiration date.