4 Entrepreneurial Lessons Every Graduate Should Know
“It’s the best time of your life!” they say.
I sure as hell hope not, I respond. Because, for the most part, high school sucks.
Sure, there are friends and some parties and 2 a.m. trips to Taco Bell, but let’s be real. For most people, life gets so much better after you graduate. If you are a graduating senior on the edge of this monumental, life-changing cusp -- this post is for you.
Of course, for those reading this who are long past their high school years, don’t worry. I think you might pick up on some good tips here as well. After all, entrepreneurship knows no age. Of course, no one tells high schoolers that, which brings me to my first point.
1. You can (and should) be an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurship means building your own destiny, not one defined by your parents, teachers or friends. It means taking your own creative genius and putting it to work to create something new and exciting in the world. Maybe you’ll get filthy rich off your idea, and maybe you won’t.
But that’s not really the point.
The point is to enjoy life unconstrained. Entrepreneurship can do that for you. Far too many schools teach you how to be a good employee, how to follow the rules, color within the lines and obey authority.
Become an entrepreneur. Build something. Create. Dream. Explore.
2. College is mostly useless, but go anyway.
I majored in history and minored in political science, and today I help lead the world’s largest community of real estate investors (BiggerPockets).
So my college degree is pretty much worthless.
Unless you plan to be a doctor, lawyer or other highly-specialized professional, your college degree probably won’t matter much either. However, that’s not to say you shouldn't have one.
I don’t regret any of my college experience except that perhaps it went too quickly. College prepares you for life, but not in the way you think it might. The diploma is just a piece of paper, but the friendships, lessons and responsibility you’ll gain during your college years are vital -- especially if you’ll become an entrepreneur.
Therefore, the school you choose to go to probably doesn’t matter much, so look for the least expensive option.
3. Too much debt will sink you.
Don’t be stupid.
As you embark on your college years, you’ll be tempted to start spending like a madman. New clothes, a new car, college education bills -- they’ll keep piling up but your earning potential won’t be there. The urge to simply pile up debt will be ever present, but resist the urge.
No, “resist” is too weak of a word. Run! Flee!
Debt will bury you before you ever have a chance to make something of yourself. It will restrict your ambitions later in life and make entrepreneurship, wealth creation and most other areas of life incredibly difficult.
So don’t sign up for the credit card at the department store just because the company promises 15 percent off your order. Don’t tack on unnecessary student loan debt (and avoid it altogether if possible.) Work your way through college if you need to!
And, of course, guard your credit like it’s the key to making you a millionaire, because it just might be. Work hard to raise your credit score and keep it high.
4. The choices you make now echo through the rest of your life.
In college, I tried to eat a two-pound block of cheese. It didn’t end well, but it didn’t have any lasting consequences. I wish the same could be said about some of the other choices I made after high school.
You see, you might think of this time of your life as a time to have fun, make mistakes and explore. It is. But don’t believe for one moment that the choices you make have no lasting consequences.
Just remember, life is never lived in a vacuum. Everything you do affects everything else. So have fun, but live responsibly.
Your future self will thank you.
If you enjoyed this article and have graduating seniors in your life, please share this post on your favorite social media page. You just might change their entrepreneurial life.
Brandon Turner is a real estate entrepreneur and the VP of Growth at BiggerPockets.com, one of the web’s largest real estate investing communities. He is also the author of The Book on Rental Property Investing, The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down and several other books. Buying his first home at the age of 21, Turner quickly grew his real estate portfolio to over 40 units using a variety of creative finance methods. He and his wife Heather live in Grays Harbor, Wash.