Many graduate students find themselves wanting to start their own company. The entrepreneurial spirit is in full swing and now more than ever, you may be asking yourself whether the path to entrepreneurship is the right one for you.
According to the Wolters Kluwer CT Corporation Survey, 61% of recent graduates want to start their own business. 45% find it very probable that they will, and 20% started a business during their college years. Entrepreneurship is quite attractive for many students – especially in the biotech industry.
The biotechnology sector attracts many young entrepreneurs because of its promising future and high levels of market growth. The yearn to become your own boss and pursue something that you are passionate about is exciting, but can also seem daunting. It is common to debate with yourself whether or not this is the right time to pursue your dream of starting a business. Here are some pros and cons to consider as you choose your path:
- You can afford the risk. Hearing someone tell you that you can “afford” anything may be a shock, considering the state of your bank account. However, it is true, you have less financial responsibilities, fewer commitments, and more time to compensate for any losses that you obtain compared to those further in their career.
- Freedom and flexibility. Starting your own business during this time comes with many advantages. Those who do not start their own company during their programs or right after them, typically join the corporate life which consists of long hours, limited flexibility and vacation time, and other constraints. Although your program can be demanding, it comes with flexible hours and built in summers leaving time for innovation.
- You have endless resources. As a student, you are surrounded by professors, industry professionals, mentors, classmates, alumni and more. Your network is invaluable and should be used to your advantage. There are many programs available to grad students that are specific to biotechnology and promote entrepreneurship. Programs like these offer specialized support for innovation.
- Personal growth. The health care industry is unique and offers room for growth and expansion. By starting a company in graduate school, you allow yourself to apply what you have learned in real world situations while in a nurturing environment. This also allows you to jump start your career right out of school. Biotechnology and health care are an ever growing fields with a high demand for new inventions. Regardless if your company fails, you will likely be in a better position than you were before because of the experiences you acquire along the way.
- Educational strain. It is no secret that both education and starting a business are full time jobs in themselves. In grad school your list of things to do is never ending. Trying to start a business while managing the stresses and expectations of school can be overwhelming and seem impossible to many.
- The looming uncertainty. Life of entrepreneurship is full of uncertainties. Will my product ever make it to market? What if my business fails and I am left with nothing? What if I don’t have what it takes to be successful? Do I have the right network? These are all questions that entrepreneurs have asked themselves. The uncertainty can drive one to follow the traditional and “safe” route of corporate America, but it doesn’t have to. Questions like these are incredibly common. Lean into them.
- Financial stress. The thought of no paycheck for a while in addition to student debt and the cost of starting a business is one to scare any grad student. Businesses don't get profitable overnight and the pressures to pay off student loans are high. This is why so many founders join incubators. Early stage incubators cut costs and opened up founders’ bandwidth to focus on building solutions versus always wondering about how to foot the bill.
- The sacrifice. There are many sacrifices to be made in entrepreneurship. There are several factors that will either make or break your company. Once you decide if this path is the one you want to choose, you keep choosing it. As the company grows more stable, your life can level out a bit, but at the onset- it will need to be your core investment.
Overall, it is important to entertain your dreams of starting your own business. Explore your bandwidth and ultimately find what works for you. In the meantime, subscribe to our newsletter for upcoming events with industry leaders to gain more exposure to the work already being done, as you decide. If you want a little more hands-on experience, consider applying for Blue Sky.