After reading this post, I got the urge to write a reply of some sorts, with my thoughts about dropping out to build a startup.

My advice: Don’t do it, there is always time, but it’s harder to get back to studying once you’ve dropped out.

What set me going was this last paragraph of the post

As a result, my advice to anyone thinking of dropping out is to keep studying, and use every opportunity to build projects and startups on the side. When something starts to work, you’ll have that same feeling that many others have, and you’ll know that it’s your duty to keep building it and bring it to the world. Until that happens, keep studying and keep building. When it happens, drop out slowly.

There is no such thing as “drop out slowly”. You either drop out or you don’t. Once you’ve got your own startup, you are “supposed” to put all your energy and time into it. People take Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Zuckerberg as examples, and generally don’t go back to studying, because “there is no time for it”.

As the article says, you go through a very fast, compressed, learning stage when you have your own startup. You learn so many things that it kind of feels irrelevant to go back to studying.

My story

I’m not a dropout, but I’ve still found my way to building startups, making money, and following my dreams.

I’ve worked since I was 17, whilst still in high school. I started off working as a developer and photographer at a jewellery factory. I started university, and joined a software development firm. I chose a university that would adapt to my work hours. Sometimes I would go to uni at night, other times I would take online courses, etc. My bosses knew that schools comes first, so when I had to take a mid-day course for a few months, they would allow me to leave the office for 2 hours at lunch time.

At the same time, I was working on starting my own business, developing CMS and CRM systems. So, how can you handle two jobs and uni at the same time? Trust me, it’s possible. It’s all about time management and good communication. As long as you know how to prioritise, organise, communicate, schedule, and perform well, then you can master anything in life.

So, fast-forward a few years, and I’m in Scotland doing a master degree in Artificial Intelligence, whilst working part-time for a financial software company, and freelancing as a web designer in my spare time.

I managed to get through the course, fly back home, and carry on with my start-up. Right now I’ve got over twenty clients, whom I do web systems, websites, and other custom projects for.

You don’t need to drop out to get your own projects going. You just need to know how to organise your life, find a flexible course or university, communicate well with your clients, co-founders and university staff to let them know what you are doing, organise your time adequately to cater for all your needs, and get to work.

The number one thing I learned

I took away from this experience that what you learn at uni, you apply in your start-up and other jobs, and vice-versa. It is a constructive symbiosis that will help you grow intellectually, as well as economically. Furthermore, when you finally graduate, you will be much better prepared to manage your start-up than you would have been if you would have dropped out.

Now, my experience and words might not work for everyone, but it certainly worked for me. So think first, analyse, compare experiences, do research, and then decide. Because when you drop out, it might be the last time you ever go back to the classroom.

5 thoughts to “Avoid dropping out at all costs

  • Arturo

    I agree with you, Mr Miffe.

  • Virendra Rajput

    well not all can handle the studies and the startup part simultaneously!! Its just one thing at a time. You cant focus much on your product along with all the studies ie. uni work load.

    • lemiffe

      @Virendra I think it all comes down to which uni you go to and how much time you have available. I’ve always studied/worked all day, from 8 or 9 AM to 9 PM. I often have meetings that end at 10 or 11 PM. Then I watch a quick movie, go to sleep, wake up and repeat the process. Some people say at times it has seemed that I don’t have a life, but if you really enjoy what you do, then you’ll put up with the long work/study hours.

  • Annon

    Sounds like you didn’t pay close attention to what he said. You’ll know when to drop out…if that moment ever comes. Also, it’s sounds more like you have a lifestyle business on your hands, not necessarily a startup. They’re very different beasts. Building “web systems” for roughly 20 clients is a consulting business. That’s honorable in and of itself, but what the original article refers to is doing big projects, with several hundreds of thousands of users (customers), and being forced to learn a lot in the process. Now, that’s not to say that your can’t learn a lot in uni or that it isn’t valuable — because it is. Uni is not the only way to become educated and for self-sufficient, self-directed, self-motivated individuals it may not even be the best method once they happen upon a system (business) that is growing dramatically and successful.

    Drop out if you need to. If it makes sense to. Otherwise stay the course.

    • lemiffe

      I did get the point about the article, I must admit I did not read it fully, but what struck me as a bit harsh was that last sentence you point to: “Drop out if you need to. If it makes sense to”. All I wanted to emphasise is that it should be a last option kind of thing. Otherwise, it’s just plain hard to get back to studying. You get stuck in business. One of my friends just got back to finishing and is now 35 years old. It’s easier to get studying done with early on, as early as possible, and then get down to work, instead of splitting things or leaving things for later.

Comments are closed.