Do you have what it takes to be a student entrepreneur?

Do Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg sound familiar to you? They probably do, since they are two of the leaders in the tech industry. Oh, and they’re billionaires. But the trait that they also share is that they started their companies as students. That’s right; they were both, as we like to call it, a student entrepreneur. And if they can do it, so can you.

Being a student entrepreneur in college

The Netherlands is the No.1 start-up-friendly country in Europe, with universities encouraging student entrepreneurship from day 1. So, it doesn’t hurt to be studying in such an encouraging, creative country, does it? Plus, there is always at least one entrepreneurship-focused society, and universities have career services on top of that. Moreover, universities are filled with people from all over the world; in the Netherlands, there are over 800,000 international students. That means that you are surrounded by multitudes of people with different backgrounds and stories, ideas and creativity, and people waiting to collaborate with you.

Admittedly, not everyone can successfully pull-off being an entrepreneur. Firstly, it takes a lot of planning and hard work to be able to (or even to want to) manage your studies, social life, and work. It takes dedication, a lot of hours, and probably some sleepless nights. However, the reward could be outstanding; working in a start-up is extremely rewarding, and if your business does well, you could be looking at expanding your passion.

Do you have what it takes to be a student entrepreneur? There are 10 things you need to be able to do to make it as a young entrepreneur. You ready?

Image of a group of student entrepreneur

1. You dream big

Part of being an entrepreneur is having that drive, that passion, for what you are doing. Though it may sound cliché, having a passion for what you are doing is extremely important. Sticking to your goals and reminding yourself why you love what you are doing will get you through the long hours and hard work you must put in to be a successful student entrepreneur. You also have big ideas, and you aren’t afraid to work hard to make them come to life.

2. But you can also handle the small stuff

While entrepreneurship requires you have an idea, and a plan, it also means you have to take care of the small stuff. Answering emails, networking and paying your taxes is as important as designing your product or pitching your service. Even just registering your company at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce is a big step, though the paperwork may be a burden. A student entrepreneur must be patient, and be able to put equal effort into every aspect of their company.

3. You can manage your time well

The myth of having no personal time while working in a start-up is generally true. Because a start-up, or a new entrepreneurial pursuit, is still in its infant stages, it requires a lot of attention. You have to be able to manage your time well. That means juggling your studies (always important), maybe a part-time job to generate some income, meeting your friends, cooking your dinner, and working on your project. Sometimes, you might have to sacrifice an active social life. We are not saying you need to become a hermit, but you might find that, to make more time for your work, you need to pull some all-nighters once in a while. And that’s okay. Working hard always generates reward, and in this case, being a student entrepreneur is one of the most rewarding things you could do.

Image of student entrepreneur

4. You have a hunger for learning more

As well as being passionate about your work, you also want to learn as much as you can. Being somewhat knowledgeable on a subject doesn’t satisfy you. No, you need to learn as much as you can, and not stop there. Student entrepreneurs often research for fun, and have a craving for all types of new knowledge that they can apply to their start-up. If you are constantly reading and learning, then student entrepreneurship will suit you fantastically.

5. Making difficult decisions is what you do

Sometimes you’ll have to make decisions, and they might not be easy to make. But, you aren’t afraid of taking the leap and making those difficult phone calls, or making that company-changing transition. After all, being able to make difficult decisions will result in a stronger work ethic and will prepare you for more challenges down the road.

6. You work hard, but smart

You also aren’t afraid of late-night sessions and all-nighters surrounded by 10 empty coffee cups. But, you also value smart work. If you are always looking for ways to be more efficient and use your time wiser, then you fit the role perfectly. If every book on your nightstand is one that tells you exactly how to manage your time better, you know what we are talking about.

7. You are confident, but also humble

Being confident as a student entrepreneur is extremely important. After all, you need to believe in yourself, right? You should be confident in your own abilities, your idea, and your success. However, you are also humble. You know you aren’t the smartest, or the best, and that keeps you working harder. Development is what drives you to work on yourself, so keep on developing!

8. You accept failure...

The road won’t always be smooth, sometimes there will be potholes. What we mean is, you won’t always have a perfect success rate. There will be times where you don’t meet your goals, or you miss a step on the ladder and have to climb back up. But that’s all part of being a student entrepreneur. You recognize that failure is a good thing, and that you can learn from it. You also actively seek out feedback from others, making you open for criticism. It’s all part of the journey, friends…

9. ..and expect the unexpected

Part of accepting failure also means accepting change. Though change can be intimidating, it’s also a good way to push yourself further. Change might even result in something better, who knows? And finally, you always expect the unexpected. Deadlines shifting, people changing their minds, hiccups in carrying out your ideas… all examples of an unexpected change of plans. You won’t be fazed when something goes wrong, or something goes extremely well, if you are expecting the unexpected. It will also make you more flexible, a trait that can take you a long way on the path to student entrepreneurship.

10. You don't take 'no' for an answer

But sometimes, you know that taking 'no' for an answer just won't do. You've accepted change, failure and even the unexpected. But sometimes, accepting that 'no' just won't cut it. You learn from your mistakes and you just keep going. Someone says you won't make it? Just another incentive to prove them wrong and claim your success.


Did you see yourself in any of these traits? Maybe you have what it takes to be a student entrepreneur after all! If you want to read more about Student Entrepreneurship, read this page. Also, read more about the Start-Up Visa and how to get a self-employment permit in the Netherlands!