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The Heretic is a free dispatch delivering insights into what it takes to lead into & in the unknown. For entrepreneurs, corporate irritants and change makers. Raw, unfiltered and opinionated.

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Aug 29th, 2015 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Not quite The Clash song — but a recurring question I hear (and get) is:

“As an entrepreneur, do you finish school or focus on your company? When you launch a company during University, it’s very hard to focus on them equally, especially when you are in love with your startup and classes are like the ‘job at McDonalds’ that just distracts you. What do you do? Finish, or go back… because school will always be there, but your startup might need to be focused on now? How can you measure this decision? What if you feel you are not benefiting from school?”

It’s an interesting question for me to answer as I dropped out of college a few months before handing in my diploma thesis. Mid-way into my degree I started my first company, raised $2.5M and hired a team of about ten. When it came to finish my diploma there just wasn’t enough hours in the day — and my university wasn’t too accommodating to my situation either. And as my company seemed more important than finishing my degree I dropped out.

Turns out this decision had interesting ripple effects: From having to explain the story over and over again to future employers to making it significantly harder for me to get a visa for living and working in the US…

I truly don’t regret dropping my degree in favor of building my first startup — the experience of setting up a VC-backed company being 21 years old is something I wouldn’t want to miss. But it surely came at a price…

With all that being said and with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight-vision:

You have time. You will work for 40+ years — so why rush and not finish school (as long as you enjoy it)? It’s an amazing time of exploration, finding your passions and doing so without too much (external) pressure. You will work 12-hour days soon enough.

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