How to Balance Higher Ed and a New Startup

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Entrepreneurs tend to be ambitious people with a handful of hard-to-reach goals and an eagerness to reach those goals in record time. As a result, entrepreneurs tend to fill their plate — and they also tend to bite off way more than they can effectively chew.

It is possible for entrepreneurs to pursue more than one goal at once, especially if those goals are mutually beneficial, like obtaining a degree and launching a business. However, it takes some work to strike the right balance between these activities — so here are a few tips for getting it right.

Set Your Priorities From the Start

It doesn’t matter which comes first — business or bachelor’s degree program — but even when you are striving to strike a balance between the two, you need to decide which is more important to you at this stage. Though you can and should try to maintain both your business and academic success, during times of stress, you will need to know ahead of time which responsibility takes precedence. Thus, setting your priorities from the start will help you keep the right plates spinning, so you don’t accidently break something that truly matters to you.

This is an incredibly subjective decision that should be based on your goals, your interests, your lifestyle and other factors. One business leader might decide that because they are in the very earliest stages of starting a business, they will give more time and energy to their degree program. In contrast, another business leader might believe their startup has more potential for growth and earnings than a degree can provide, so chooses to put minimal effort into their degree program.

It is sensible to hope for success in both your endeavors, but realistically, you should know whether your startup or your degree is more important to you from the start. Setting a priority doesn’t mean you can drop the other responsibility, but it will make it easier to choose either work or school when both demand your attention.

Learn How to Manage Your Time

Most entrepreneurs find it easier to fit an online bachelors degree program into their schedule because lectures and assignments have more flexibility regarding when they can be completed. Thus, by attending your courses online can be a significant boon when it comes to time management.

Take Advantage of All Your Resources

No one is an island — not a student, and not even an entrepreneur. You have resources at your disposal to help you better manage your startup and your degree program, and you should be aware of those resources and take full advantage of them while you can.

You should investigate what resources your university offers to students to make schoolwork more manageable. You should be in contact with your professors, form study groups with student peers and use the library, computer lab, writing center and other spaces to boost your skills. Because most of these resources are available to all tuition-paying students, you should consider them elements of your education for which you have already paid.

When it comes to your startup, you might need to lean more heavily on others. If you are in business with a partner, you might discuss with them the option of shuffling responsibilities as you complete your degree. You might also consider hiring part-time workers or freelancers to reduce your workload, especially when you are in a busy time in your academic semester.

Don’t Be Wasteful

Most likely, you are returning to school to bolster your business knowledge and skill and gain a greater probability of success for your startup. If that is the case, you should be careful to select a program and course loads that contribute directly to your ability to run your business. Though you might be passionate about fields like poetry or anthropology, you would be wasting your time pursuing these academic fields if your ultimate goal is entrepreneurship. Instead, programs like business, finance and economics will likely serve you better.

You should celebrate your ambitiousness in pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams and achieving higher education — but you should also recognize that the road ahead of you will be tough. With the right planning, mindset and resources, you should survive with both your startup and your degree in hand.