Deciding to start your own business in a field you didn't go to college for is something that a lot of entrepreneurs wrestle with. You paid thousands and thousands of dollars, have student loans you're paying back, and now you're going to do something unrelated? It can be a tough situation to think through. But, just because you're entering a new field that you didn't necessarily study for, doesn't mean there aren't lessons and principals you probably learned to master in college that you can't apply to your business.
1. Time Management. One of the most important skills and entrepreneur must learn to master in their own way is how to manage their time. If you're like we were in college, you probably had several classes per day, we're involved in activities outside of the classroom like a club related to your major or team sports, made time to study, had a part-time job, had time for your friends and participated in the occasional (weekly? ;) ) Thirsty Thursday. If you were still able to graduate with a decent GPA given all that you had on your plate, you've probably nailed down some good time management techniques that you can definitely apply to your side hustle or new business venture.
2. Working with New and Different People. If you grew up feeling shy at all when you had to meet and interact with new people, being in college probably helped you out with that fear at least a little bit. In those four+ years, you likely not only saw a lot of new faces, but also had to learn to work with different personalities and trust people you had just met to get their share of project work done. This skill is essential for entrepreneurs as you navigate working with new vendors and partnering with others to help grow your business. You've learned how to spot those you know will do what they're promising and those who won't and you've probably learned some techniques in conversing with others who may have a different work style than you do - utilize those skills!
3. Negotiation Skills. Did you ever write a paper, feel like you killed it, only to get it back with a big, red C on the front? Feeling a little cheated, maybe you went into office hours to have a little chat with your professor and if you were successful, you walked out with at least an upgrade to a B. Or, when living with roommates, did you ever agree to take the less desirable bedroom but were also able to negotiate paying less per month? Learning to negotiate and compromise as a young adult is key in any position but especially helpful when you own your own business. It's your life and dream on the line - knowing how and when to negotiate for the benefit of your business is priceless.
4. How to Just Get it Done. There may have been a few or several occasions when you woke up from a fun night out not feeling 100%, it happens to the best of us. But, you also probably got up anyway, popped some Advil, grabbed a cup of coffee and knocked out the assignment you had due the next day. Sometimes in the entrepreneur world, we're not feeling our best for whatever reason but learning to get things done anyway (and done well!) is a skill that we are so thankful we mastered in college.
So next time you're feeling guilty that you (or your parents) spent a ton of money on a degree you don't feel like you're using, try thinking about it in a different way. College is such a unique experience and whether you're starting a business in the field you studied or not, there are probably so many lessons and situations you can apply that you might not have understood or would have learned the hard way by making a mistake in your business, having not gone to college.
Happy business building from a proud CSU Ram,