The Hidden Costs of Entrepreneurship
If being in university wasn’t challenging enough, imagine adding the madness of becoming an entrepreneur into the mix. The journey of entrepreneurship has always fascinated me, but no one ever truly reveals the immense effort required to execute an idea and achieve the desired level of traction, support, and impact.
Starting is the easy part—having a beautiful idea and wanting to piece it together to create impact. However, it is only when you dive into the thick of things that you begin to understand why few people succeed, while many end up giving up along the way. It demands unwavering determination, mental strength, and a genuine belief in what you truly want to accomplish. Because you will not always have the motivation required to keep at your business idea.
Finance as a International Student Entrepreneur
You may have noticed from my previous blogs, I am a student at the University of Waterloo, and being an international student adds an extra layer of challenge – I am sure many can attest to this. However, if you have a growth mindset these challenges can be interpreted as opportunities for growth, and I believe in making the most out of every situation. A few of things you end up trying to figure out are how to balancing rent, meals, fees, and general expenses while nurturing that startup you are deeply passionate about becomes a delicate tightrope to walk. Many of you know that these days giving up is rarely an option to consider because you know the potential that the idea has.
Throughout my journey, countless people advised me to focus all my efforts on one thing, believing it would lead to success. While that advice had its merits, I wanted to find a way to interlink my studies and my entrepreneurial pursuits, allowing them to complement each other. It didn’t feel right to choose one over the other or sacrifice more time for either endeavor. I discovered my natural inclination when I realized that opportunities lie in almost every aspect of life. This blessing, however, could also be a curse, as pursuing a burning passion while lacking financial support does pose a significant challenge.
Nurturing a Startup on a Student Budget
In the beginning, limited networking opportunities hindered my ability to generate seed capital, the initial funding necessary to bring my idea to life. Balancing the perspectives of an entrepreneur and a student added another layer of complexity to this already arduous journey.
The biggest challenge I faced was convincing people to believe in my idea. Many viewed it as a mere indulgence or an extravagant personal project. Moreover, being young and inexperienced made it difficult to compete with more seasoned individuals in the entrepreneurial landscape. Countless rejections became part of my story, but along the way, I discovered that no one would financially support a university student unless they saw traction and witnessed the initiative taken with the limited resources.
Rejection and Resourcefulness
Late in my pursuit, I realized that in order to utilize what I had and start what I wanted, I needed to work with the people closest to me – my family. With their help, I developed my 60-20-20 model, which guided me in budgeting my finances. I realized that utilizing a portion of my savings was necessary to kickstart my journey. With their support, I reached out to the school, initiated our project, made donations, and began attracting the attention needed to collaborate with different partners and organizations. Read How I planned my first donation?
One thing I will never forget is that as much as you have a deep passion for something, it becomes challenging to find financial support if it doesn’t benefit others and lacks a significant degree of traction over time. As a university student, if you have an idea and struggle to find partners, funders, or grants, I encourage you to use the little resources you have based on your budgeting model and start something on a minimal scale. Plant the seed, even if it doesn’t immediately grow, and slowly begin piecing everything together. Through this process, you will discover what you truly want to do, how you want to do it, and why you want to do it.
Financial challenges will always be present as a university student with an entrepreneurial mindset. I suggest utilizing the networks, friends, and people who genuinely support and believe in you. Continue persevering, and you never know where it may lead you.
Financial challenges are an inherent part of the university student experience, especially for those with an entrepreneurial mindset. Balancing rent, fees, meals, and general expenses while nurturing a startup can feel like walking a tightrope. However, it is important to approach these challenges with a growth mindset, viewing them as opportunities for growth and learning. Interlink your education and entrepreneurial pursuits, leverage limited resources, and seek support from family, friends, and networks.