Startup company

Should you start a business right out of college?

May 26, 2011: 2:12 PM ET

Most new grads have no money and little, if any, real-world experience. Even so, launching a startup may be less crazy than it sounds.

By Anne Fisher, contributor

FORTUNE -- Dear Annie: I'm a brand new college graduate and, although I have one job offer from a big company (after interviewing with many), I'd really rather work for myself. For the past couple of years, I've been earning "mad money" by selling handmade jewelry online, and it's been going well enough that I think it would really take off if I do it full-time.

On the plus side, I have no student loans to pay off and my expenses are minimal because I can live with my parents while I build the business. On the other hand, my mom and dad are urging me to take the "real job" because, according to them, starting a business right out of school is crazy. What do you and your readers think? — Mary Ann

Dear Mary Ann: Far be it from me to contradict your parents, particularly since they're evidently trying to spare you what could be a painful disappointment.

"The Mark Zuckerbergs of the world make startups look easy, but the cold hard facts are that 9 out of 10 new businesses fail in the first five years," notes Carol Roth, a Chicago-based business strategist who has helped her startup clients raise over $1 billion in capital. Roth also wrote a New York Times bestseller, The Entrepreneur Equation: Evaluating the Realities, Risks and Rewards of Having Your Own Business.

Before you make up your mind about which way to go, Roth says, take a hard, honest look at your motivation for starting a company. Too many entrepreneurial wannabes of all ages (not just new grads) are "looking to get rich, escape the corporate grind, and work shorter hours with more free time," she observes.

None of those reasons is likely to lead to success. What will? Says Roth, "If you're focused on solving a customer problem or need, believe you can do what you do better than anyone else, and you're dying to work long hours, wear many hats, and juggle endless responsibilities, you have the right startup mindset." More

  • Surviving the startup founder-to-CEO transition

    The founder who can accept his limitations as a manager has a much better chance of watching his business blossom into the next big thing.

    By Ethan Rouen, contributor 

    FORTUNE -- In 2007, Cyrus Massoumi, a former business consultant, had an idea for a business and two friends willing to take a risk with him.

    His spark of inspiration came when he ruptured an eardrum and couldn't find a doctor to see him right away. MORE

    Apr 21, 2011 11:04 AM ET
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