I remember vividly a debate carried on many years ago in one of my graduate school classes that centered on the question of whether it was a good idea to encourage students to set up and operate for-profit businesses prior to their completion of formal education.
There was a very distinct minority that took the side of believing in student run businesses.
I was not one of them.
I felt that education shouldn’t be interrupted by business world training and pressures.
The classroom needed full attention and focus at this critical time.
I remember thinking how risky and uncertain business creation was and that a wrong step or two could seriously jeopardize a student’s schooling because it would throw him quickly into ultra debt, burdening legal problems, and a lack of time to accomplish college studies.
Maybe I was concentrating too much on the negative side of business.
I was looking for the pot holes and reasoning that there were too many potential downsides to student business to recommend that path to anyone.
Besides, there would always be time for entrepreneurship and risk after graduation – why confuse academic learning and practical hands-on experience?
Today, my position in this debate (if there still is a debate) has changed 180 degrees – if the business is of a certain nature.
What has changed to make me do an about face on the issue?
The Internet. That’s it . . .
When I was a graduate student the Internet was only a dream in some computer expert’s mind.
The only kind of business was brick and mortar based, or MLM, or mail order and certainly much more labor and capital intensive than what is required for profitable business today.
Why can’t a college, or even high school student create a small Internet based business while still in school?
The education and skills that could be gained by the young entrepreneur, regardless of the profit generated by the business, would be invaluable upon graduation and entry into the business world.
Even if the graduate decided not to go into business ownership full time as a career choice, he/she would have the understanding and experience of what it takes to run a profitable side business if extra income was needed.
I am not advocating that students drop out of school or not attend college if they know they want to seek a career in business ownership.
Higher education is important from both an academic and social standpoint.
Some of life’s hardest lessons are learned at this time. Often life-long friends and helpful habits are established pre-employment.
But a small student run business is easy to create, very inexpensive nowadays, and could lead to a great education in entrepreneurship if it is executed and run with balance and attention to academic priorities.
Gaining the proper balance between business and school could be a challenge for many young people, especially if the business was actually profitable. But at the same time, the lessons learned from the experience would be invaluable.
Balance in life, especially between business and home/family concerns is one of the toughest lessons a small business owner faces.
Learning that lesson early on in one’s business career would be a very good thing, don’t you think?
To your online business success,