College and Business Are Like Oil and Water

Jeff Lefler


Dec 01, 2017

To me, college is like a guided tour at a museum. You know what you’re going to see and often what the outcome will be before you even start. Someone holds your hand, shows you the way, teaches you and guides you through the journey. At the end, the finish line was always the same; you completed the tour and received your degree. You knew exactly what you were getting before you even started.

Being an entrepreneur is like wandering a forest with no path. You’re making twists and turns and choose a direction based on the information you’ve gathered at that moment in time. The start of the journey begins when you open your business and have a path you want to take. You have a vision of what the finish line should look like. But you’re not quite sure where it is or what it’ll take to get there. The direction you start on will never lead you in a straight path. You learn to twist, pivot and navigate your way on the fly. There is no sure outcome and there is no safety net.

And then you realize there never really was a finish line.

You can’t be in college and be entrepreneurial at the same time. They represent completely opposite thought processes.

Why being ½ a credit shy of a Bachelor of Medical Science has been the best lesson in business.

College provides a guided structure. Something I probably need more of, but feel it could negatively impact my business. In business, I know what I’m good at and I know what I’m not good at. I’ve hired people to compensate for my inadequacies. The people around me are college graduates. They appreciate structure and have a very focused goal based on their future objectives and career path. That’s a good thing for them and a great thing for me. College taught them to think like that.

College taught them to think like employees. They’ve been taught to think in a straight line; a degree leads to a job, that leads to a career, that leads to moving up the corporate ladder to a better position and eventually leading to retirement. Colleges provided me employees with a certain mindset. This allowed me to build a team of great people that have specific motivations. I can incentivize each employee to help grow my business.

Entrepreneurs are not wired that way. We don’t have a career path. College trains someone to focus on one broad goal, one skillset, one direction. An entrepreneur needs to think outside the box. We need to know that our original plan was never accurate. We need to be comfortable changing direction as needed. We need to accept that there is no true finish line.

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