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4 Tips for Student Entrepreneurs on Juggling Academics and Business

Student entrepreneurship is on the rise, but balancing school and business can take a toll

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BY Cristina Morales - 04 Jul 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

There is no better way to learn than by actually doing, and now, more young people are taking this adage to heart by starting their own companies while still in school. Some go as far as dropping out to focus on their business, but most choose to stay in school, still seeing the value in getting a formal education. While some, as Kairos ASEAN president Jian Min Sim points out, are pressured by family to finish their studies.

“The advantages of starting while still in school are the lower opportunity cost compared to starting when you already have a stable job,” says Sim, who adds that school provides an easy way to network and find a like-minded circle of individuals and talents who could be part of your founding team.

“[Starting a business in college gives you] strong professional experience if you take your business seriously,” says Venchito Tampon. “Even if you don’t pursue it after college, it can add credibility to your portfolio.” The founder and CEO of Manila-based digital marketing company SharpRocket adds that student entrepreneurs build a positive attitude towards work, strengthening their grit and resilience.

In this Inc. Southeast Asia article, Roslyn Teng, co-founder of Singaporean lifestyle service Made Real says that pursuing a business in college worked for her because she and her partner didn’t have any liabilities. “At this stage of life, we were not expected to provide financial support for our parents, nor did we have children or spouses to answer to,” she says.

In this Inc. Southeast Asia article, Kara Pangilinan, founder of Philippine art brand DetailsInk, says that pursuing entrepreneurship at a young age taught her a lot. “It’s always good to start early, and to fail early,” she says. “That gives us more time to learn and grow, and I think it is probably the biggest advantage for young entrepreneurs.

Going through university and building a company are hard enough endeavors by themselves—doing both at the same time can take a toll. For instance, student entrepreneurs would have considerably less leisure time compared to their peers. And if they’re not careful, their academic performance could suffer. What could they do to successfully balance the two? Here are some entrepreneurs’ thoughts.

1. Don’t fail to plan

“As running a business is a 24-hour role, it is very difficult to do well in studies without proper planning,” says Sim, who says that students should think carefully about which courses they should enroll in, as well as schedule their study time. “I would take up relevant courses which would help in my day-to-day business, so that my business will also benefit from the knowledge I learnt.”

2. Know your priorities

Tampon says keeping your priorities straight is imperative when you’re balancing studies and business. “You need to know which one is your current primary priority,” he says. “There are times when you have to sacrifice working hours to spend more time studying. Learning how to manage your time and staying focused as you do each task is critically important.”

3. Make the most of your time

Tampon recommends making the most of free time; instead of spending idle times between classes playing video games, students could use that time catching up on homework or checking up on their business through their laptops or mobile phones. Even time spent queuing at the grocery store or the airport could be used to send emails, update your company’s social media pages, or even study.

4. Treat your youth like an asset

One pitfall of pursuing a business when you’re young is people may not take you seriously, but your youth can also be an asset. Teng and her partner saw their youth as an opportunity to ask and learn as much as they could. “Robin and I were incredibly thick-skinned—not only because if you don’t ask, you don’t get, but also because you can get away with it,” Teng says in this Inc. Southeast Asia article. “What is youth if not rash, passionate, and brazen?”

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