Start a Business or Continue Your Education? Why Not Both?

Start a Business or Continue Your Education? Why Not Both?

It’s back to school time—again, but you have business aspirations. So what should you do? Start—or keep working to grow—your business in this season or head back to school to get the skills you need to take it higher? Why not both?

You can start a business while you are still in school—and you can go back to school to sharpen your skills while you are running a business. Indeed, whether you are a Millennial or a Baby Boomer, others have gone this way before and have plenty of advice on balancing these two arenas in a way that leads you down the pathway to greater prosperity.

4 Things You Need to Know

First, let’s talk about what it’s going to take. Don’t expect a 9-to-5 life if you are going to dive into back-to-back goals.

Second, you’ll have to prioritize. Although you can certainly go to school and run a business at the same time, you’ll have to cut out other activities that don’t align tightly with your dual goal. Your social life will suffer as your intellectual and business life rise during this season.

Third, know up front that you’ll feel like quitting more days than you’d like to admit and school is always the easier ball to drop because it costs money instead of makes money—at least in the short term. Rather than dropping out, take a break. Have some fun.

Fourth, you’ll have to learn to delegate. You can’t do it all yourself. Find an intern, hire a virtual assistant, but don’t try to wear all the hats.

Why It’s Worth the Fight

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s look at some ways to make the most of your dual-goal choice. You’ll discover that you have advantages as a student that you don’t have as a non-student.

For example, there may be programs—including grants—available to you. Then there are the copy machines, computer labs, free Wi-Fi and other facility benefits students enjoy. You may even get a break on student loans, lowering your monthly payments.

The school probably has clubs of like-minded people with whom you can brainstorm. And you can recruit from up and coming talent that may possess the skills you need but don’t have to grow your business. Your professors themselves are a strategic resource for advice. It’s almost like having a free consultant at your disposal. You can also think and talk with other students.

Practical Advice for the Journey

Make sure you are taking classes that actually help you meet your business goals. Marketing and business administration come to mind, along with more creative courses if that’s your field. Keep your eyes open for a mentor, consider doing an internship if you haven’t yet launched your business but want to gain experience, and don’t be too hasty about forming joint ventures or partnerships. You don’t want to give away your million-dollar idea before you get it off the ground.

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Jennifer LeClaire

Jennifer LeClaire

Jennifer LeClaire is a veteran business journalist, editor and new media entrepreneur with a strong niche in real estate and technology.