Entrepreneurship 101

College can be incubator for success, author says

‘The right start’

The Kansas University Small Business Development Center offers sessions to help budding entrepreneurs focus ideas and develop business plans for potential and ongoing startups.

The sessions, called “The Right Start,” are conducted at the center, 734 Vt., suite 104.

For more information, contact the center at 843-8844, or e-mail maggie32@ku.edu.

You spend tens of thousands of dollars attending college with the hope of one day landing a good paying job, maybe even one with a six-figure income.

But Randal Pinkett, the winner of a job with Donald Trump on the fourth season of NBC’s “The Apprentice,” says you don’t have to settle for being an employee of someone else. It’s possible to become your own chief executive even while pursuing your college degree.

And Pinkett has proof: Think Google, Yahoo and Facebook, all successful businesses that were founded by entrepreneurs while they were attending college.

“Believe it or not, you can have an enviable career immediately – not at some distant point in the future – just by starting your own business while you’re still a student,” Pinkett says.

If you’ve got dreams of running your own business, you might start by reading Pinkett’s new book “Campus CEO: The Student Entrepreneur’s Guide To Launching A Multimillion-Dollar Business.”

Pinkett started his own business while attending Rutgers University in New Jersey. He sold compact discs, records and tapes out of his dorm room. He also offered student workshops and seminars on leadership and developing professional skills.

That endeavor eventually morphed into BCT Partners, a multimillion-dollar management, technology and policy consulting firm.

In “Campus CEO,” Pinkett first describes how to pick a college that encourages entrepreneurship.

To evaluate a school, check out its national entrepreneurship ranking, Pinkett says. Several business magazines rank the top schools for would-be entrepreneurs. You also should determine how many classes the school offers in entrepreneurship. Find out if the school has an entrepreneurship center. For example, Pinkett points to the Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In other sections of the book, Pinkett explains how to develop a business plan, find funding for your business and maintain a balance between work and the classroom.

One thing Pinkett doesn’t do is advocate abandoning school for the executive suite. Pinkett himself holds five degrees.

I’m not typically a fan of books on how to build a business and get filthy rich. Usually it’s the author who walks away wealthy by pushing platitudes. But in this book I believe Pinkett wants to help people find their niche in life. He doesn’t view entrepreneurship as the only way to succeed but a path for a person with the right passion.

As he says: “Entrepreneurship is not exclusively about owning a business: It’s about using your talents to make a positive impact in your areas of influence, and leveraging all the resources at your disposal to create value for the greatest number of people.”