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.
I would not be the person I am today without the sport of kiteboarding. It has enabled me to travel the world, grow my network exponentially and kick-off my entrepreneurial endeavors.
Here are four lessons I’ve learned on how becoming passionate about something besides entrepreneurship can help your startup thrive:
1. Find what you like. I knew entrepreneurship was for me when I discovered the same passion and drive I found in kiteboarding. Growing up, all I wanted to do was kiteboard, get sponsored and beat my friends. Securing my sponsorship from Cabrinha Kiteboarding was a goal I never thought imaginable. I used that same competitiveness when I launched my own startup. Entrepreneurship can be pretty cut throat, and you have to work 100 times harder than your competitor to succeed. Passion and drive are really the only things that can keep me sane.
2. Become really good at it. Practice and become the best you can at something you’re passionate about -- people will respect you for it. My success in kiteboarding has led to introductions and meetings that I would never have received otherwise. Kiteboarding acts as a constant in my life. If I’m having a horrible day, but the wind is blowing, a few minutes out on the water can turn my day right around.
3. Network within your niche. Whether you have a love for cars or yoga, most entrepreneurs and top-level executives have a knack for something other than work. As for the sport of kiteboarding, Silicon Valley cannot get enough of it. Richard Branson and Bill Tai are two prominent business figures who love the water sport. And as a result, I've been able to connect with both of them. If you can connect with people on a personal level, they may be more likely to show interest in your business life as well.
4. Maintain a source of balance. Juggling 21 college credits, meeting with clients, launching new products, pitching my business at events around Southern California and maintaining somewhat of a social life keeps me extremely busy. However, finding time in my day to get out on the water makes it all a little easier to manage. Fitting in that little bit of exercise makes all the difference in the world -- I feel refreshed and ready to tackle the throws of the rest of the day.
Why do you think it’s important to maintain activities outside of your startup? Share your thoughts here in the comments section.
**Apply Now** Are you an enthusiastic college- or graduate-student entrepreneur, eager to share your on-campus experiences? Apply to be a YoungEntrepreneur.com College Treps columnist.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.