Over the years I have mentored numerous students who have the dream of running their own businesses or becoming entrepreneurs in their own right. It would come as no surprise that there are things to be learnt from both sides of the table. As I have helped with marketing, technology and general business advice – I too have picked up on a few things from the students I have mentored and wanted to share with you here 3 things I think to be of interest I have learnt.
Variety of drive
What one person desires and is willing to put into achieving their goals isn’t nearly as much as the next might be willing to do. This can cause some controversy over the word entrepreneur which is being thrown around to anyone who has a web site and an idea to play on, but the real fact is where one person maybe entrepreneurial in the sense of willing to give it all up for greatness – there is (rightly so) those who are only willing to go so deep in the rabbit whole and who still may be entrepreneurial.
A variety of both how far one person is willing to commit vs others – neither is bad – but in a world where people boast of their 20hr days and 4hrs of sleep a night – it is hard not to follow the convention. Those putting in a solid 10hr day may just well outwork their tired caffeine infused counterparts.
Understanding your passion, your drive, your ‘why’ – is crucial. Are you happy to be putting in 8-10hrs a day? Can you commit 14hrs+ a day? What are you willing to put in? There is no right or wrong answer.
Its the latest craze
For a lot of students I speak to often ‘entrepreneur’ has become that ‘cool’ job title or term to use. What was once a label for ‘unemployed’ or ‘still trying to figure it out’ has become a buzz word for many. Since Zucks put on a hoodie and made a few billion and the likes of Dragons Den put ‘entrepreneurship’ in the spot light it has become the one word bio for many.
Not everyone with a web site is an entrepreneur in the same way that not everyone that buys the Ralph Lauren shirt is a model. Its a term that many people are applying to themselves and others incorrectly and is detracting from what the real purpose is.
Far too often I’ve asked the question ‘what do you want to do in business’ and the answer comes in the shape of ‘an entrepreneur’… there is something inherently wrong with that answer in my opinion.
That age/race/background still matters
Its a sad thing to say particularly as we have so many young talented entrepreneurs doing so well, that people will still undoubtably ‘judge’ someone based on their looks, race, ethnicity and even age.
The human race has a tendency to judge people far too quickly – we are all guilty of this to some degree. Having mentored a number of students of different ages, backgrounds and seen first hand how they are dismissed or not taken seriously because of these facts.
I recall being 21 years old and meeting a potential client at an event who would later become not only an influential figure in my development over the years but a great client to work with for several years. Being young, smart and good at explaining who I was and what benefit I could bring to their business, I thought I had it in the bag – only to be largely ignored because of my age. Once my name kept floating around this person decided to bring me in to consult on some projects and after a very short time I was told the reason for the quick dismissal in our initial meeting.
“When I look at 21 yr olds – they have all the talk and none of the action – you proved me wrong” the client said. The fact that we can look at someone and immediately make a snap decision we don’t want to work with that person because of age or cultural background is astonishing.
This particular client grew to be someone I considered a mentor myself and a great businessman – perseverance keeps you going. If you are 18 to 25 (or even older) and regularly get knock backs, or if you are finding it difficult to get those meetings or be taken seriously – KEEP PUSHING.
Patience is GREATLY underrated. You need to be patient.
Some of these student / graduate entrepreneurs are REALLY dominating – lend them your support!