Editor's Note: College Treps is a weekly column that puts the spotlight on college and graduate school-based entrepreneurs, as they tackle the tough task of starting up and going to school. Follow their daily struggles and this column on Twitter with the hashtag #CollegeTreps.
College life is crazy. Classes, homework and a healthy social life would keep any student busy enough, but when I threw in running a business, I was really struggling to balance all of my commitments.
I was only a second semester freshman when I began work on Ratifye, my consumer-product rating website. I was so unorganized that I was finding it difficult to accomplish basic tasks like eating lunch and going to the gym. My grades were suffering, and worse, I was making very slow progress on my startup.
I knew it was time to reevaluate my priorities and bring more passion, energy and focus to all of my activities. Here are four tips I learned for balancing a startup and schoolwork:
1. Choose classes that are good for business. I realized that registering for easy classes just to maintain a high grade point average wasn’t doing me any good. Sure, GPA is important, but for an entrepreneur it could end up meaning close to nothing if you really didn’t learn anything. Plus, you might be surprised how much better you perform academically when you have a genuine interest in the course material. Nothing’s worse than a class that’s an easy-pass, but leaves no mark on your future
Related: How to Start Up from Your Dorm Room
2. Prioritize obligations, daily. If you don’t properly plan to do something, chances are it won’t get done. Keep daily to-do lists and make sure you clearly illustrate what tasks are most important and what tasks can wait. I was finding myself finishing projects and assignments way before they were due, while missing crucial deadlines at the same time. Once I started writing down my daily tasks and discovered sticky notes, I was much more productive and organized.
3. Find a strong support group. Whether it’s your business partners or just a group of friends, it’s important to surround yourself with people who keep you motivated. It’s much easier to avoid the distractions that come with being a college student when you have a team to push your head in the right direction. My co-founders and I insist on extreme accountability, and we’re not afraid to check one another if we fall out of line.
4. Stay focused. Entrepreneurship is nothing without focus. You need to remain loyal to all of your goals and everything that needs to be done to achieve those goals. Remember, nothing comes easy and some sacrifices will have to be made for the good of your startup.
How have you been able to best manage going to school and starting up? Leave a comment and let us know.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Eric Muli is a senior at Babson College majoring in Economics and Marketing. As a Kenyan entrepreneur, Muli has developed a strong passion for community development and impact investing and participates in a variety of community uplifting projects in both Kenya and the United States. He is currently the president of Africa's first rating and review platform, Zabamba. He is hoping to launch a similar platform for college students in the United States.