If you’re thinking about starting your own business before you turn 30, you’re in for a ride. You will learn more than you ever imagined, and it will all happen quickly. You will learn from every success and even more from every “failure”. You will learn from the advice you will and will not listen to and all the sleepless nights that lie ahead of you. You’ll learn from the connections you make and the ones you melt, but that’s the only way you’ll learn it all fast enough. succeed if you surround yourself with other young entrepreneurs.
I forgot how important this was until I returned from this year’s Kairos Summit. The entrepreneurial journey is often lonely and sometimes daunting. Most likely, you are surrounded by people who do not understand what you are doing and why. Your parents will tell you to get a job, your peers will tease you for working late while they’re at a bar. It’s hard to overstate the value of surrounding yourself with people who truly understand, who inspire and encourage you, and help you get started. Here are the best places to meet them.
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1) Kairos Summit:
Each year, the Kairos Summit brings together the country’s most innovative, energetic and visionary entrepreneurs. Mix these entrepreneurs with business leaders who have the know-how and connections to turn your endeavors and ideas into reality and you have the Kairos Summit. The Summit was founded by Ankur Jain, a student at the Wharton School, with the goal of creating an ideal environment for “deploying innovation for a better future.” You can read more about the summit and the Kairos Society on the Ankur Jain Kairos blog. The event is invite-only, but if you can attend, you will leave this summit refreshed, inspired and ready to change the world again.
2) Annual CEO Conference
You may not be recognized (yet!) as one of the top 100 collegiate entrepreneurs in the country (see above), but that doesn’t mean you don’t have an entrepreneurial spirit. Every year in Chicago, thousands of college students come together to listen to successful entrepreneurs speak, attend breakout sessions, and, of course, enjoy Chicago. While the speakers and activities are amazing, once you attend, you will quickly find that networking with other students who share your vision of being your own boss is a much more valuable aspect of the conference. If your dream is to build your own business empire instead of doing the slave job of an investment bank, I definitely recommend coming here. Who knows, maybe you will meet your business partner. At least you’ll know that it’s possible to go down the less beaten path.
3) Entrepreneurial activities on campus
College is the best time to spread your entrepreneurial wings. Who cares if your business doesn’t survive, you’re in college. Discover invaluable lessons on how to take the leap and potentially “fail” now while you still have the best possible security system. There are kids all over campus who share your desire to start a business, you just have to find them. The easiest thing to look for is obviously entrepreneurial organizations or even entrepreneurial classes. Find people who attend these classes and start brainstorming. You don’t pay attention to the lessons anyway, you can learn something.
You all know what Facebook is. Use it. Meeting and building relationships with like-minded and passionate people is easier than ever before. Create a meetup group in your area, connect with other entrepreneurs on LinkedIn, join young networks on Brazen Careerist, and join the conversation on Twitter. If you don’t find support or inspiration in your circle of friends, the Internet is a good place to look.
Once you get the support you need, you will be amazed at how ready you are to start building a business. Instead of people berating you for working so hard, you will have a network of people who cheer you on with support and advice along the way.
Patrick Ambron is Partner and Chief Marketing Officer of Brand-Yourself, the world’s first online reputation management system for individuals. You can read some of his work on the company blog or check it out. personal site.