Make More Happen

Forget Your Degree. Start a Business.

Forget Your Degree. Start a Business.
Image credit: Shutterstock
Reader Resource

Position yourself for growth in 2017—join us live at the Entrepreneur 360 Conference in Long Beach, Calif. on Nov. 16. Secure Your Seat »

The History of Domesticated Animals was a course my really good friend took while attending Columbia University. Her tuition was $40,000 per year. She’s been out of college for almost 10 years, and still paying off the debt. She works at an accounting firm. Needless to say, that aforementioned course surprisingly hasn’t added any value to her current position, or any position she’s ever had in her professional career.

Our education system is broken. There are countless entrepreneurs attempting to refine, disrupt and improve the broken model with online education, skill-based bootcamps and skill-based courses (including one of my projects, Intangibly).

Related: Can the Next Wave of Young Entrepreneurs Even Afford to Attend College?

I recently spoke to two very impressive young entrepreneurs who are in my Facebook group. Mind you, they’re also brother and sister, and on their second business. Brendan and Ashley Eapen are the founders of In/Spree. After speaking to them, I told them that I was writing this column, and asked them to give their insights into the topic because of the experience they both had.

(Image Credit: Brendan and Ashley Eapen)

Brendan started his first business when he was 15 years old. He went door to door selling trees to his neighbors, amongst a handful of different jobs. In 2011, he created a design and architecture blog.

He explains, "I was going to college to study architecture and the blog was the perfect platform to put my thoughts together on design/architecture. Around the same time, my sister, Ashley, was creating a fashion blog and it was doing well. I thought it might be a good idea to combine our blogs and create a lifestyle blog that incorporated fashion, design and architecture. Our blog started picking up but we noticed that many of our followers wanted to be able to instantly purchase what they saw in our content.”

Related: If You Don't Think You Were Born to Be an Entrepreneur, Fret Not. You Can Learn to Be One, New Study Says.

In/Spree allows you to do that: shop the content of your favorite style influencers in one place. Ashley has also been an entrepreneur since she was 15 years old. She bought old or destroyed designer handbags, fixed them up and sold them (usually at double or triple what she paid for them). Ashley, who is a college student now, is experiencing firsthand the struggle of entrepreneurship and college.

Here’s a list of reasons why it’s better to start a business than receive a piece of paper:

1. Networking

Successfully starting a business requires an increased network. Brendan explains, “I’ve met tons of new people, which does wonders to opening up doors, meeting new people and learning from them.”

2. Compounding laws

Experience. Money. Business. Starting at an earlier age provides the compounding value any business owner needs. The sooner you start, the more these variables will compound.

3. Practical experience

Practical experience trumps theory-based learning. Ashley says, “You can learn the most from building a business than reading about it.”

4. Autonomy

Starting and building a business allows you to control your destiny. Set your own hours, make however much or little money you want and live life on your terms. Or get up at 7 a.m. for a physics class that conditions you to work for someone else for the rest of your life. Your call.

5. Deferred degree

Both siblings say, “College can wait. Building a company can't if there’s a good market/need in some space.” I dropped out of college for this exact reason. I had an opportunity that couldn’t wait, and decided to pursue it with all I had.

Related: 8 Free Mobile Apps College Students Should Download ASAP

6. Limited risk

Both Eapens agree that “Limited risk to start a business while you’re young can be a key differentiator.” Starting when you don’t have a family, when you’re single or when you’re living at home can help you get the company off the ground without the stress of bills and outside responsibility. It’s a bootstrapper's ideal scenario.

Take this piece with a grain of salt. There are entrepreneurs and employees in this world. Not everyone is cut out for either side. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll understand the value of this column. If not, you should probably get back to taking notes on what year the siamese cat made it’s way into our homes.