Matt Allred is a junior in entrepreneurship at the University of Utah and owner of J.Bones Clothing. While working on his degree, he has already launched several companies and a has variety of experience. His latest experience was traveling to Kansas City, Mo., with Symptomly, a U startup that is advancing mobile health with their symptom management platform. Allred was invited to join the team in the Techstars three-month accelerator program. The Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute caught up with Allred after the experience, and he shared his five lessons for student entrepreneurs.
Lesson No. 1: Launching a business will change your life
Every good thing that has come to me over the past five years has been influenced by my student entrepreneurial endeavors. Not only have I increased the likelihood of having a successful business, but I have altered the course of my life by learning key skills that only come from doing entrepreneurial things. School, coupled with starting a business has allowed me to meet people I would have never met, do things I would have never done and learn things I would have never learned. By having a business throughout my whole school career so far, I have been able to overcome the well-known argument of “Why am I learning this … I am never going to use this again?”
Lesson No. 2: College is the best time to start a business
It is foolish to think that you can’t start a business during school, and I would argue that this is the best time to start a business. Never will you be around thousands of potential co-founders, employees, mentors and free resources. Never will you be around such inspiring people or ideas, where the risks and results of failure are small. This is the time to challenge yourself and start a business that will change not only your life, but everything around you. If you feel like you aren’t getting enough from school, start a business, and apply all the experience and knowledge school offers into everyday use.
Lesson No. 3: Eliminate “No”
If there were any word I could eliminate from my vocabulary it would be the word “no.”I don’t like hearing it. I don’t like saying it. More importantly, I don’t like living it. What I mean by “living it” is living with any form of doubt. Just think of the possibilities that simply ridding yourself of this word could provide. My life has been filled with the words “yes”and “no,” but it is my expectation that “no” becomes a minority and eventually becomes eliminated from my life. I don’t want to be a “no” person. I want to be and surround myself with “yes.”
Lesson No. 4: Grades mean nothing
Did I get your attention? OK, I will amend my statement and say that grades are meaningful, but only in school. They show your ability to follow guidelines of an assignment, but do not have any translation to how you will perform in a “real world business” task. Grades mean nothing; your network is everything. When this is understood, I feel that school becomes such a powerful resource for an entrepreneur. School is not just a place where you should get a grade and move on. If you do that, you’re missing the point. I have met key people in my classes that were the reason my business ideas were able to actually happen. If I were just focused on the assignments and getting through the class, I would have missed out. I don’t want just a grade, I want experience and resources.
Lesson No. 5: The three P’s
I have heard it all when talking about startups and even said some of these things myself: “I don’t have enough money,” “I don’t know any investors,” “I don’t have enough time,” “I don’t have a good idea,” or “It’s too scary.” I have a solution for these excuses called the three P’s, and they are the source of my motivation and purpose. To be a successful entrepreneur you must be patient, passionate and persistent. I have struggled or failed when one of these elements is lacking or missing. Know it takes time to make something work. My life has never felt more meaningful then when I am working on what I love. Everyone has something to offer. Everyone can create and make their surroundings a better place.