10 Habits College Entrepreneurs Should Forget at Graduation
You've made it. The finish line. With that degree in hand, now you can finally start the business you've spent years planning, right? Not so fast. After years of cramming for exams and attending class in your pajamas, you may have picked up a few bad habits.
Before you startup, here are 10 habits you should leave in the dorm room:
You may have been able to slide by classes by procrastinating, but leaving things until the very last minute just won't cut it in the startup world. Make sure you stay on top of everything, as getting behind will only create a major headache and could lead to larger problems like dissatisfied customers.
2. Living in your pajamas
The days of wearing sweats to class have ended. Dress like you mean it. If you're going to a meeting, convention or any networking opportunity make sure you look polished. If you are challenged in the wardrobe department, take note of what people with your body type wear and focus on clothes that look nice, feel good and give off an air of professionalism.
3. Nonstop texting
Even though we live in a world where texting is often the go-to communication between friends and colleagues, there are times you still need to pick up the phone. One of those times is when you are running a business. Another no-no? Texting while you are with business associates and customers. Being preoccupied with your phone's screen can come across as rude and could cause people to rethink their relationship with your company.
4. Posting everything on social media
Ditch the crazy spring break pictures and profile shots of you beer bonging. While in college that kind of behavior (or at least broadcasting it) may have been appropriate, it isn't a good idea to do so post-graduation. Privacy settings continually change, and you never know who has access to your profile. If you must share your crazy night, share it with your friends only.
5. Living the college life
You did your time. You had your ups and downs, and now you're looking to create something the world hasn't seen before. As a young trep, part of connecting with people is sharing in their experience and some didn't end up going to college. Don't open a conversation with how much you miss the boys of Delta Chi. Instead, keep the small talk to topics that everyone can participate in.
6. Partying non-stop
Sleep is important -- especially when you're a startup founder. The choice between going out clubbing with your college buddies and getting a full night's rest is often a hard decision, but entrepreneurship is about being at your best. You'll always have time for the crazy fun you had at college, but the real world revolves around the workday and you're going to need to adjust your lifestyle accordingly.
7. Being fake
During college, you may have got caught up in trying to fit in. And in doing so, a white lie or two may have slipped out. Those days are gone. As an entrepreneur, it is always important to be up-front with people, state expectations and give honest criticism.
8. Taking the easy way out
Simplified study guides like SparkNotes may have been a lifesaver in college but taking shortcuts at your startup isn't going to do. Entrepreneurship is a journey and there are no guarantees. Successful young treps must be diligent when it comes to research, corresponding and producing something amazing. You just can't cheat innovation.
9. Sticking to your clique
College is about interacting with people from all walks of life, but in reality it can be similar to high school. Your group of friends probably shared the same values and aspirations as you. Those aren't necessarily the people you'll want on your team, as diversity in backgrounds and talent are key to developing something new. Look for transcendent people, evaluate their skills and hire accordingly.
The worst habit that college teaches you is cramming during the finals crunch. Classes end, the libraries fill and everyone collectively gripes about how hard they're working. The truth is, entrepreneurship is a steady finals week. It's a constant struggle and learning to enjoy the process is the greatest thing a young trep can figure out.
What habits did you pick up in college that you needed to forget after graduation? Let us know in the comments below.
Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Vancouver, B.C.