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Dear student…so you want to be an entrepreneur?

Student Entrepreneurs

Since graduating from St Andrews and starting my business in 2013 I have had several opportunities to speak at local schools, local colleges, Edinburgh University and the University of St Andrews.

I really enjoy it.

Speaking at Edinburgh University 2015

Speaking at Edinburgh University 2015

I mainly speak about entrepreneurship, attitude, mindset, personal branding, network growth, communications and marketing (social, content) – these are my favourite topics and they seem to be of interest to both the lecturers and students.

It’s awesome to have the opportunity to put myself in front of students and not be a lecturer – instead I can be a little controversial and talk about things that really matter when you’re trying to make money, build your own business and be relevant in the 21st century.

I recently graduated from St Andrews with a 2:1 in business. So with the speaking and the involvement as a student I have a good understanding of what’s being taught in local colleges and universities in the enterprise and business curriculum.

It’s probably no surprise to know that the lecturers and the students are wildly out of touch of what’s happening right now in the global marketing and enterprise space.

My main concern is for the students, so this is for you.

I accept that you have to do your work at uni or college to get your qualifications, and you need to read the books and attend the lectures to learn what you need to so you can pass your exams. You’ve got to play the game.

I’m concerned about you leaving uni or college and really not having a clue about what’s happening right now. This is a real problem.

Fortunately you can do something about it – and I really mean that you’re the one that has to do something about it.

I’m sure things will change in colleges and uni’s in time, but for now it’s up to you to seek additional relevant sources of inspiration, learning and insights from people who are at the cutting edge of business and marketing today.

So this is my advice to you on how you can get in front, be at the cutting edge and make sure you leave college or university today with a real understanding of what’s actually relevant in today’s world.

Here we go…

1. Listen – to podcasts

Podcasts are free to download and listen to.

Many successful business leaders publish their own podcast and give away their knowledge, insights and wisdom and expect nothing in return.

Podcasts are a perfect source of cutting edge knowledge, particularly the shows that are publishing new content frequently. To get you started, here are 10 podcast shows I listen to regularly to make sure I’m on top of my game:

  1. The #AskGaryVee ShowClick here to listen on iTunes
  2. Foundr Magazine PodcastClick here to listen on iTunes
  3. The Tim Ferriss ShowClick here to listen on iTunes
  4. The Mad Marketing PodcastClick here to listen on iTunes
  5. Content Marketing Academy (disclaimer: this is my show) – Click here to listen on iTunes
  6. Entrepreneur on FireClick here to listen on iTunes
  7. Excellence ExpectedClick here to listen on iTunes
  8. The Smart Passive Income with Pat FlynnClick here to listen on iTunes
  9. This Week in StartupsClick here to listen on iTunes
  10. The Solopreneur Hour Podcast with Michael O’NealClick here to listen on iTunes

Also check out Graduate Job Podcast – Click here to listen on iTunes

2. Watch – YouTube Videos

I find YouTube videos to not only be a great source of education, but also inspiration and motivation.

The quality that is being produced by individuals and young people is absolutely mind blowing.

Here’s a small list of channels I watch regularly to make sure I stay relevant, motivated & inspired:

  1. Casey Neistat – Click here to subscribe to Casey’s channel
  2. Gary Vaynerchuk – Click here to subscribe to Gary’s channel
  3. TED – Click here to subscribe to TED

I’ll follow up in a future article with specific videos to watch – I have my favourites that I’d like to share with you.

Note: Don’t waste all your time entertaining yourself on YouTube. Get in, get motivated/learn, and then take action on something.

3. Read Books

I know that you’ll have a lot of reading to do for your studies, but I highly advise you to also read from other non-academic sources.

It’s far more fun, enjoyable & practical :)

Here’s a small list of books to get you started (get them from the library to save on £’s):

9 books to read:

  1. The One ThingClick here to buy from Amazon UK
  2. The E-MythClick here to buy from Amazon UK
  3. DriveClick here to buy from Amazon UK
  4. The War Of ArtClick here to buy from Amazon UK
  5. How To Win Friends and Influence People – Click here to buy from Amazon UK
  6. Rich Dad Poor Dad – Click here to buy from Amazon UK
  7. Start With Why – Click here to buy from Amazon UK
  8. $100 Start Up – Click here to buy from Amazon UK
  9. The Lean Start Up – Click here to buy from Amazon UK
  10. Purple CowClick here to buy from Amazon UK

4. Attend Conference and Seminars

There’s a tonne of events, seminars and conference taking place in your local city and across the country.

As as student you are entitled cheap entry prices and discounted travel. So take advantage of this whilst you can.

Look out for start up, digital, marketing and content marketing events.

Also, look globally at live streaming events taking place – check out Blab for live events too.

5. Attend Business Networking Meetings

Across the globe there are local business networking events taking place (if there aren’t any in your area that you want to go to, then maybe you should start your own?).

You could also think wider and start networking with people across the globe using Skype, Blab, and other social platforms to get around the people your really need/want to.

Start building your network and getting to know more people outside of your current circle of influence.

Collect business cards, get email address and phone numbers, and keep in touch with people.

6. Join Facebook Groups

There are a multitude of Facebook groups for every topic in every industry. In those groups there are people asking questions, discussing challenges and sharing resources.

Use Facebook search to find relevant groups and jump in there and start having conversations with people and making connections.

7. Join the conversation on LinkedIn

Set up your LinkedIn profile – get a decent profile picture (cannot over emphasise this enough!)

Join groups, interact with people – connect, comment, engage.

Get involved in the conversation and get noticed.

8. Reach out to people that inspire you

Use the free platforms today to hustle your way in front of people that you otherwise would not be able to get in front of.

The great thing about social media is that it makes this easy!

  • Reply to people on Twitter
  • Send people snapchats
  • Email them
  • Write a blog about them
  • Mention them in your videos or podcasts

Most people don’t do this kind of stuff to get noticed, and thus there’s real opportunity for you to get noticed.

9. Get around the right people & audit your circle of influence

This is vital.

Your student friends that you are hanging around with today will probably not be your friends in a year or two. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be hanging out with them, but you need to get some other longer term influences in your life.

Do the things I’m advising you to do in this article – get in front of different people, network online and offline (see point 8).

Look for people that are smarter than you, perform at a higher level than you, are further ahead than you, that motivate and inspire you.

Drop anyone who is negative, pulls you back, and doesn’t understand what you are doing – you don’t need this in your life.

In short, who you hang around matters a lot. Their behaviours and attitudes will rub off on you. So make sue you’re hanging around the right kind of people – audit your circle of influence!

10. Start your own group/club

If you are finding it tough to get around the right people, or find the right people to hang out with, you need to be the leader.

Start your own groups, societies, clubs or committees.

Dedicate your time to building your circle of influence (community) and creating a place for people that you like, and for people that like you, to hang out and talk about what you have in common.

11. Start a blog, video channel or a podcast

When I’m speaking at the local schools and colleges I always encourage the students to start a blog – it doesn’t matter whether it’s written, video or audio.

I’m an employer and I’d certainly be impressed if one of the candidates for a job had their own content platform. I know for a fact that it would differentiate them from all the other CVs that land on my desk.

Here’s why you should start your own blog:

  • It showcases your communication skills
  • It gives people a better feel for who you are – your personality, your opinion
  • It shows that you have specific set of skills. For example: to write and publish a blog; to record, edit and publish a video.
  • It shows that you are willing to do something different
  • It shows people that you relevant in the 21st century
  • It shows that you are building your personal brand

Look at the age of the stars on YouTube today – from teenagers up to 30/35.

This is what your peers are doing, and you have to believe that all of this is available to you to – FOR FREE!

12. Build your personal brand

When thinking about building your personal brand, don’t think about you as a student today, think about you a few years from now after graduation and what you would like to be known for.

Think beyond where you are today and start using social and content to tell your story and become known for something.

For example, when I was at uni I had two blogs – a personal blog and a marketing blog. I didn’t write about being a student, I wrote about what I was learning and used my knowledge and skills to help others.

Build your personal brand around giving value to others.

(Note: This is what this whole article is about – building your personal brand!)

13. Invest in online courses

There’s so much content on the web today, and as a student at 17/18/19/20/21/22 years old you’ve got the opportunity to do almost anything you put your mind to.

Check out platforms such as Udemy.com and Lynda.com for low cost online learning on virtually anything and everything you can think of (if it’s not there already, maybe you could create a course?).

14. Sell something

There’s no better learning experience than trying to sell something to a market.

It teaches you about sales, marketing and communication and how to make money on your own terms.

Believe it or not it’s not all that difficult to get started with selling something.

Here’s some things you could do that won’t cost you a lot of money:

  • Join a network marketing business – the marketing and product is ready for you to jump directly into selling
  • Join a small startup business where you can get involved in sales and marketing
  • Sell old belongings on eBay – everyone has old stuff they don’t need
  • Sell handmade goods – are you interested in crafts?
  • Sell a skill – do you have a skill that you can to help others? (Graphic design, web design, writing, etc)
  • Sell your advice (consultation) – do you have knowledge of something that can help others?
  • Sell old books
  • Join Fiverr & sell mini services for $5

I don’t want to over simplify it, but you could buy two bikes and rent one out if you wanted to try selling something & make some money.

15. Don’t be a dick!

People don’t hang around people they don’t like. And people certainly don’t want to work with people that they can’t get a long with.

  • Be a leader
  • Listen more than you talk
  • Treat others like how you would like to be treated
  • Encourage others
  • Be the person that other people want to be around
  • Share your passion
  • Get excited about life
  • Show that you care
  • Stop complaining and moaning
  • Don’t bitch about other people

In short, don’t be a dick.

Other activities

  • Investigate and get involved in relevant social channels – right now you should be looking at live broadcasting: Snapchat, Periscope, Blab and how people are building their brand. Keep in touch with what’s relevant today.
  • Get an internship or work placement with a small start up company in your local area instead of a large corporate – you’ll learn more about business, marketing & sales.
  • Work for a small business for free – perhaps your parents know someone that runs a small enterprise?

Final thoughts and advice

Be open to continuous learning and development – I learn more everyday now than I ever have and business and marketing is a fast paced industry to be in.

Look outside of your current influences for learning – don’t just accept what you are learning in college or uni today as all you need to get a job. It’s not enough.

Most of your friends and peers will not do this kind of stuff – accept that they are not as smart as you and differentiate from them, and certainly don’t follow what they are doing. Be in the 1%. (The main reason they won’t do anything is because they don’t need to – but I know you can see the opportunity that’s available to you).

Accept that times are changing drastically and if you want to be hugely valuable to others in 10 years time (late 20s/early 30s) you need to be relevant to what’s going on today, tomorrow and everyday going forward.

Audit your circle of influence and make sure you are learning from people that matter today – make sure they people you are listening to and studying are practitioners in this world.

Work harder than anyone else and be smart – understand that college and uni is one single chapter of your life and you need to be ready for the real world. You can stand out from everyone else by being relevant and not simply relying upon you certificated qualifications.

At the moment you’re young an you’ve got the world at your fingertips. My advice is to take full advantage of it.

I hope this helps you and I wish you all the success that you are prepared to work for.

If you’ve got something to add, or your own advice to share please join the conversation in the comments section below :)

DFTBA!

Chris.