Before we go any further, let’s make one thing clear. Yours truly is no entrepreneur, nor does he plan to be any time soon. At least not yet anyway. But even those who are far from entering the world of entrepreneurship have to recognize the special potential it has a career choice for all twenty-somethings.
You wouldn’t tell an English major, for example, to think about becoming a doctor. It just wouldn’t make sense — not to mention, attempting to get into the medical field after years committed to studying literature would be near impossible. You wouldn’t advise an engineer to try becoming a lawyer, either.
No matter what field of study people have immersed themselves in, though, becoming an entrepreneur can be a viable option for any young person, especially those who are fortunate enough to (let’s face it) be years away from having any actual financial responsibilities.
College student or not, without huge mortgages to pay off, decades of debt to consider and a family of five to take care of, twenty-somethings, especially those in their early twenties, are at a special point in time at which they can really weigh their options without having to sway one way or another simply because they’ve racked up too many liabilities.
Having said that, starting a business should be amongst those options, especially when you consider the fact that (as opposed to attempting those radical career changes mentioned above) your past experiences don’t necessarily preclude you from aiming to become the next big CEO.
11-year-old Moziah Bridges is the head of his own bowtie business and, like most successful businessmen, already has his own charity to “give back.” High school dropout David Karp built Tumblr into a billion dollar enterprise, an accomplishment that was confirmed once Yahoo! bought the site for that exact amount during the summer.
The idea that “anybody can become an entrepreneur” is indeed much stated, but, admittedly, too optimistic. A more accurate statement might go along the lines of this: anyone, who is willing to devote the planning and passion necessary, can become a businessman or woman, without having to worry about having the “necessary” requirements to enter the world’s college of entrepreneurs.
These words of praise for the opportunity that choosing a life of entrepreneurship can offer someone (even if it means trying to succeed in an industry that has nothing to do with what they were previously studying) are not meant to question the usefulness of college.
Despite the fact that a number of big time CEOs would tell you that spending those four years in the classroom, and the money for them, isn’t necessary, like Zappos founder Tony Hsieh, many of today’s younger prospects in the business world are using the experiences and networking they’ve gained at universities to their advantage.
The three Ivy League sophomores behind new app Side came together after two of them were paired together as roommates at Harvard. 22-year-old Lucas Duplan brought over 20 of the friends he’d met at Stanford onto his team to help develop Clinkle, the app that has $25 million of investing fueling its development in Silicon Valley, the tech capital of the world.
Becoming an entrepreneur, however, is much more than a matter of taking two things (your desire to start a business and a product/idea that you like) and marrying them. Based on some of the more recent success stories of businessmen who’ve pushed their companies to the top, literally amongst the elite of the elite, there is a more elaborate set of ingredients that goes into entrepreneurial success.
One (of the many) combination of prerequisites needed seems to include first, the identification of a need; second, a product that eliminates that need; third, a knowledge of the relevant market; and fourth, a willingness to take on many jobs.
At least, that’s the way it appeared for Jon Oringer, the 39-year-old founder and CEO of Shutterstock, an online image and video marketplace. Oringer shot the first 100,000 images on the site himself, using an $800 Canon Digital Rebel camera. That was in the early days of Shutterstock, a point at which he was the lead photographer, CEO, customer service rep and presumably everything in between for the company.
Ten years later Shutterstock is generating over $100 million in revenue yearly and has over 27 million photos on its site. And what about Oringer himself? He enjoyed a successful summer, during which he became the New York tech scene’s first billionaire, after Forbes estimated his net worth to be north of the $1.05 billion mark in July, which bring us to the crux of this argument.
It is true that the most awe-inspiring of entrepreneurial stories are, generally, the exceptions to the rule. It’d take a great deal of optimism to believe that quitting two jobs after rebelling against two bosses out of self-belief would lead to an ownership of an NBA franchise and a seat amongst ABC’s intimidating sharks. It’d also take a great deal of optimism to think that everyone could drop out of college and end up a billionaire if they really “wanted it” enough. The choice of a career in entrepreneurship doesn’t grant a magic ticket to success, what it does do, however, is provide an opportunity to each competitor that few other fields can match.
It’d be fair to say that, no matter what the field of work is, the bigger salaries come with the big performances. But while most us, the most fortunate of us, can only look forward to six digit salaries as a financial goal, entrepreneurs who aim big can earn big. Like Oringer when he took 100,000 pictures by himself for one website, when it comes to earnings, the sky is the limit for any young businessman or woman who aims at it. The ceiling for potential earnings is simply higher in the field of entrepreneurship than it is for any other career path.
If not for anything else, if not for the opportunity never to have to work in the “traditional” work place, if not for the chance to make the world a more efficient place by eliminating a need, the potential to (quite simply) make money in ways that would be highly improbable with other careers, should make entrepreneurship something to consider for every person in their 20s.