My advice to students aspiring to be entrepreneurs

During my talks at engineering colleges and business schools I often come across students who are clear that they want to be entrepreneurs, but they cannot do so immediately because they have student loans or other financial commitments to take care of. And that is a perfectly understandable reason for deferring your entrepreneurial ambition.

My advice to such aspiring entrepreneurs is to keep their entrepreneurial ambition as the key focus on their lives. Sure, go ahead and take up a job because you need to. BUT NO MATTER HOW MUCH SALARY YOU GET, KEEP YOUR EXPENSES AND LIFESTYLE WITHIN RS.25000 – RS.30,000 (USD 500).

Here’s why this is important. Often we see students with entrepreneurial ambitions, but financial commitments to meet (often EMIs of student loans) take up a well-paying job and then adjusting their lifestyle in line with their fancy salary. And while that may be tempting, especially given your peer circle, it usually means the end of entrepreneurship plans for a couple of decades.

If you adjust your lifestyle to your salary levels – take up housing loans, car loans, etc. – you will find it difficult to become an entrepreneur soon. Because as a startup entrepreneur you will most certainly not find the monies to pay you a salary that meet your lifestyle needs and EMIs.

And often therefore we see aspiring entrepreneurs bury their dreams and stick to a job for the next 15-20 years, and jump back into entrepreneurship when they are around 35-40 with some decent savings that can help them maintain their lifestyle even if the startup is not able to pay for it.

So, my advice. Take up a job if you need to meet financial needs. Keep expenses low. Even in a job, keep learning about the ‘business’ not just your function. Pay off loans quickly and start your entrepreneurial journey as soon as you are ready, and have a idea worth pursuing.

(By the way, if you have the commitment & competence, and a concept that is addressing a large market opportunity, you may also find the capital to cover your financial needs. Difficult, but not impossible if the business case and value creation opportunity around your concept is high.).

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Author: Prajakt Raut

Prajakt Raut is the founder of Applyifi.com, and author of the book for startups - ‘Starting Up & Fund Raising’ Prajakt personal goal in life is to encourage and assist a 100,000 people to become entrepreneurs. _____________ Prajakt is the founder of Applyifi - an online platform that provides startups a 36-point scorecard and assessment report on the venture's investment readiness [www.applyifi.com], and helps them improve their odds of getting funded. Prajakt is also the founding partner of The Growth Labs, a platform where growth-stage companies get sharp, incisive advice from senior professionals and experienced entrepreneurs. [www.thegrowthlabs.in] Before starting Applyifi, Prajakt was the head of operations at IAN, founding member of a leading incubator, and the Asia-Director for TiE (2004 - 2007). Previously Prajakt had co-founded Orange Cross, a healthcare services company, and was part of the founding team member of Idealake Technologies. While in college Prajakt had founded a printing business and has spent over 10 years working in leading advertising agencies. Prajakt’s book, ‘Starting Up & Fund Raising’, helps startups understand an investor’s perspective, and helps them improve their odds of getting funded. The book also helps entrepreneurs understand the building blocks of a business.

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