Should He Stay In Grad School Or Start His Own Company?

Below is my response to a recent email I received from a follower asking some very important questions as he ponders his own entrepreneurial journey.   While I was responding to him it occurred to me you too might be grinding over the same issues.  So here’s my answers to his questions.

His questions are in bold.

I am curious if you are having the same thoughts and if you agree with my positions.


Hey ______,

Great to meet you and thanks for reaching out with your questions. Glad you are a fan of Seconds!  First off I commend you for considering a direction as a founder. It’s one of the most exciting experiences of your life, but also will probably be the most scary and challenging. Just know I wouldn’t second guess myself for the world!

1. I’m toying with the idea of quitting grad-school and going full-time on my 4 month old startup..what is your philosophy on the value of education in school vs education via building a business?

If you are serious about your startup, quit school now. In my opinion, grad school will always be there – but your window of opportunity in tech/business will not always be there. Business climates change, technology moves forward, your solution (the idea) will probably not be applicable in its current state a few years from now so if you see something right now – go for it. You will also learn a hell of a lot more about the real world and how to live a successful life when you fully commit to building your startup. The ability to build a product, how to evaluate the market, figure out your product positioning, learning the ins and outs of VC’s and raising capital to fund your business, talking with larger companies when doing business development deals, hiring, firing, leading a team of people, conflict management, doing reviews and salary negotiations, budgeting, cap table/equity allocations, etc…

Do you think grad school will actually give you those experiences in a hards on, real life environment?

2. Do you think it’s possible to build a meaningful business in this modern age of automation without hiring anyone?

It is possible to build a profitable, cash flow business without hiring anyone. If you are technical and can build out the tech side of things, than yes you might be able to go at it alone. And this is probably what you should do until you can affordably bring on others to help you.

In terms of meaningful business and company, I would have to say it will require others to fill in the gaps and help you create the right culture for your company. In my opinion, meaning comes from purpose, passion and culture. It’s the “why” of the organization. “why does your company exist?” is the question you will need to answer. Even in today’s high-tech automated world, there are things only us humans can do, and do well. I would suggest finding others to help you fill those gaps.

Plus, life is more fulfilling when you have others there to experience it with.

3. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done as an entrepreneur?

Ironically, the hardest thing I have done as an entrepreneur is quit my job and going out on my own to build a sustainable company. It’s like being a trapeze artist without the safety net, and it can be really scary. Truth be told, Seconds is not all the way there yet and I am still fighting in the trenches of entrepreneurship, trying to build my company as well as survive through life. It’s a full contact sport. You have to be ready to do more than you ever thought you could with less money than you ever thought was possible and with it taking longer than you ever thought it would.

But to me, that is the most fulfilling aspect of being a founder. You get to overcome insurmountable odds and do things most people are too afraid to do. You get to live your own “Rudy” story. I don’t look at entrepreneurship as a way to get rich or famous, which happens from time to time. I look at it as a duty to move our society forward; a positive contribution to our world. And in the end, that is one of the most rewarding feelings anyone can be given.

Hope that helps!