The global economic recession over the last two years has surely affected us all. Although you can't control the recession, the way you interpret the results is completely within your power.
I constantly hear students complaining: “It's not fair! I've spent this ridiculous amount of money on my college education, and for what? To graduate and only find out that there are no jobs available for me?” Maybe it's outsourcing? Maybe it's America being less competitive? Maybe it's that your job is no longer needed due to technology?
It's no use crying over spilled milk!
I recently heard on Bloomberg that there is an increasing trend of young college graduates becoming entrepreneurs, primarily because they can't find a job when they graduate. I admire them and the fact that they decide to take their lives into their own hands and attempt to make it on their own.
But how do you know if an entrepreneur's life is right for you?
Well, the answer used to be about risk. If you want a safe and low risk job, where you have a paycheck coming every two weeks to pay your bills – go find a job somewhere. Unfortunately (or fortunately), you really can't find that safety in the job market these days.
When I graduated college, I was fortuante enough to have three really good options:
- Enter Corporate America – luckily I had a great internship at a great company which offered me a great job with great opportunity as a web programmer.
- Join a Small Entrepreneurial Business - throughout the school year, I was the lead programmer for a small four person web design firm and I had the opportunity to join full time to help build the business.
- Become and Entrepreneur – I have always had the American Dream mentality, in wanting to be an entrepreneur. Be my own boss, but more importantly, be in charge of my own personal destiny.
So how did I make the decision?
- Decide what you want short-term. First I decided I had to figure out what I really wanted. I realized that while I was a young recent college grad, I wanted to have the ability to experience as much as possible from life while I didn't have a family. I wanted the ability to travel, ski, go out with friends and not worry about running out of money.
- Decide what you want long-term. I also realized that longer-term, I wanted a good safety net so I can live comfortably during retirement. My thought at the time was that I was unwilling to sacrifice today for tomorrow, but still wanted to make sure I was prepared for the long-term.
- Decide on a strategy to get your long-term goal and choose the one that will most likely make you succeed. I realized there were a lot of strategies to achieve my long-term goal. I could risk it out in the entrepreneurial world, I could try and help the small business grow and reap the rewards, or I could take the safe route in a corporate job and be sure that I would achieve my short-term goals.
I decided to take the least risky route and take a corporate job. I'm really glad I did. In my corporate job, I have learned extremely valuable lessons about how the business world works. I learned the ins and outs of all aspects of mature businesses and have learned countless technical skills that would have been very hard to learn as an entrepreneur.
Some entrepreneurs will argue that it's actually a bad thing. Entrepreneurs believe that in order to truly be innovative and successful, you can't be “brainwashed” into the way of doing things in the corporate world. While I somewhat agree and understand that perspective, I also think it's important to understand that corporate world and how it works.
If you are an entrepreneur, you want to understand how to sell B2B, you should know how business works out there! As a recent college grad, it's really difficult to understand that world without living in it for a few years.
Sure, eventually I may become an entrepreneur or self-employed, but I'm still learning every day and enhancing my skills at my corporate job. I really feel like I'm growing as an individual and I have the ability to excel at my job.
I think it's really great that there are more college entrepreneurs for a lot of reasons.
- Drives Innovation – the only way to gain true disruption to the status quo is to come with a brand new perspective. If you are not “brainwashed”, that perspective is much more likely to come out.
- Creates New Jobs – there are only a certain amount of jobs in the job market these days. The only way to create new jobs for America is by creating new companies that create new products for a new customer need!
- Changes Mindset from being “factory workers” to leaders - Seth Godin claims that everything (and everyone) can be commoditized in this global world (Linchpin) and I think that's true. The only way you can truly succeed is through original thought and then having the courage to see the idea through fruition. There are plenty of web programmers out there who can push out code – there are few that can create new applications that have never been developed before.
Bottom line is you have to continuously evaluate whether you are getting nearer towards your short-term and long-term goals. You have to understand the risks and weigh the options every few months.
If you think you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur… by all means do it! Try now while you are young and have relatively less responsibility. But if you feel like you need more on-the-job education, the corporate route is not a bad option either.
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