Why Starting Your Own Business Might Be A Better Idea Than Going To College

by Paul Hudson

Four years and tens of thousands of dollars later and you can finally apply for a job at Fridays. TGI Fridays! It sounds ridiculous, but this is exactly the position that recent college graduates are finding themselves in. The U.S. economy remains in the ditches and college degrees are being found to be useless.

Now, according to a report by McKinsey on Society, a different 2012 college graduate starts a job that they are overqualified for every 5 minutes. This amounts to 120,000 college graduates taking jobs in sectors other than those they studied in last year alone — most often taking positions in restaurants or working retail. Roughly half of recent college graduates in the U.S. are working jobs that don’t even require a college degree. This begs the question: is there any reason to go to college? Better yet: if your dream is to work in business, would you not be better off starting your own?

The path of an entrepreneur is nowhere near as glamorous as many believe it to be — true. However, when compared to working a dead-end job, the satisfaction alone should make the choice an easy one. The way I see things, you are either a person who is willing to take risks, willing to work your ass off, willing to sacrifice, willing to push your limits or you’re not. If every action we take derives from a purpose, then our purpose should be crystal clear before we decide on a life decision as important as our career.

Whether you are planning on going to school to get your bachelor's or launching your own startup to get a head start, your aim must be clear. Most of the people that I run into have a lackadaisical approach to life — and that’s fine as long as you are choosing a life path that allows for such a lifestyle. Many like to allow life to unfold itself in front of them and prefer to float with the current. That’s great — but if that’s the way that you are choosing to live your life then don’t bother going into business.

The only reason I bring this up is because many people that I have come across decided on going to business school simply because it seemed like the simplest way out. You’re not clear on what you want your future to look like? Not sure what you would like to study and what you would like to devote your life to? Well, studying business is the obvious choice…? If you have the belief that getting a bachelor’s in business management will open up oh-so-many doors for you in the future, think again.

Guess which degree is proving to be the most useless? A bachelor's in business. You see, you are not the only person who thought that studying business would open doors for them. The problem is that there are only so many doorways available and too much traffic trying to walk through them — it’s as if everyone who was not sure of what it is that they would have liked to study decided on studying business. Supply and demand my friends, supply and demand.

So you’ve spent the last 4 years earning your business degree and now you get to put all you learned to good use working the register at Banana Republic. Good on ya! You might have spent as much as $200k on that thick piece of paper and are now able to land a job that pays nearly $30k a year. Just think, only 7 short years and you’ll see a return on your investment! That’s what an education is — an investment. And that’s the way you should see it when approaching the subject.

Where would it be best to invest your money and your time? Would you be better off spending 4 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in a classroom or trying to create a successful business? You have to realize that when you do graduate, you will be 4 years behind everyone that started their business the same year that you decided to go to school and thousands of dollars poorer — money which could have been spent as capital for your venture.

Your argument may be that business school will give you the knowledge that you need to succeed in business. Bullsh*t. If it’s information and strategy that you are after, then you can pick up a book — a textbook if you wish — and you will get the same information that you would sitting in a classroom. When it comes to business, it is not the information that you can pickup from reading that counts most; it’s the experience and the failures that will teach you the lessons you need to learn.

Whether you go to school or not, when you do start your own business, you will fail and are likely to do so multiple times. There’s so much more that goes into business than can be explained in a book. The way you react to problems and ridiculous situations is key. If the CIA can’t teach their operatives to withhold information and keep their sanity during torture simply by reading chapter 6 in the manual, then you better believe that you cannot learn the true essence of business until you are in the field. I’m sure that entrepreneurs will believe the comparison to be accurate.

I have nothing against the institution of education — on the contrary, I believe getting an education is important. I went to college. I got my degree. But I didn’t major in business — not because I did not realize that that was what I wanted to do. In fact, I already had a restaurant while I was earning my bachelor's in Literature and Philosophy.

I decided that if I would go to school it would be to learn something that I love and something that I am unlikely to learn otherwise. Studying literature and philosophy in school is great; they are subjects that require discussion and analyzing, subjects that the classroom suits perfectly. Business is not such a subject. If you want to go to school to earn a degree for whatever reason, then I recommend doing something that you enjoy — something that you find to be a very enjoyable hobby.

When it comes to business, the only way to get ahead and succeed is by doing. School may help, but I feel very strongly that you can learn just as much, if not more, by studying business at Barnes and Noble. Start with business/economics for dummies and you have your first two years of a bachelor's for under 100 bucks. I went to school literally for fun and yet still seem to be doing all right for my age in terms of entrepreneurship. I currently have one business in the states and one overseas with a few other projects on the horizon.

And yes, I’m 25 years old. I’m not saying this to toot my own horn — I’m saying this to give you an idea of what position getting your hands dirty at a young age can leave you in. If you are serious about entrepreneurship, then really take the time to decide if school is the right choice for you — especially if you’re reading this during the time it was written.

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