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University vs starting a business: 4 insights from this 24-year old entrepreneur on what to consider before going out on your own

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Ethan Fleming, 24, is the founder and CEO of Get Going
Ethan Fleming

In today’s culture, saying “I’ve quit my job to launch a business!” is often a celebratory event, prompting plenty of kudos for boldly ditching the 9-to-5 to pursue your dreams. Truth is, running your own business is far less glamorous than social media may make you think – for some it could be a futile endeavor, and a disappointing time.

As a 24-year old entrepreneur who has spent the last three years working around the clock to build my business, here are four practical insights I hope will assist those considering going out on their own. Is founding a business really for you? Is now the right time?

Some of my clients who are parents also ask for advice when their kids argue against university, and for entrepreneurship, citing drop-outs like Mark Zuckerberg and Melanie Perkins. I hope my insights provide parents with some practical first-hand knowledge too.

Sam Steeg, Ashley Nelson, Ethan Fleming
Sam Steeg, Ashley Nelson, Ethan Fleming

1. Double the time

One of the truestest statements I’ve ever heard was from Bill Gates: “people overestimate what they can do in a year, and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” In my opinion, anyone who has ambitions of going out on their own should double the amount of time they think it will take to ‘make it.’

Prospective founders should ask themselves whether they’re really okay with such a time commitment. The launch of a start-up requires significant effort, and it’s not just the amount of time invested, but the opportunity cost – i.e. the elements of life ‘lost.’

Are you really okay taking time out of your weekends or working when others are celebrating special social occasions you’d love to be at? Does the idea of a stable, comfortable living override your desire to birth a successful entrepreneurial venture, which will likely involve tumultuous troughs and highs? For me, that means staying home to work, whilst others enjoy their youth. I will never get that time back, but I believe it’s worth it, especially at a young age without a family or mortgage.

For many founders, the reason they’re able to endure such a fluctuating marathon is because they’re immensely passionate about their venture. If the time commitment turns you off, you’re probably not as passionate as you should be about this specific venture, just yet.

2. Realistic intensity

Today, many people get caught up in the entrepreneurial facade social media creates, and think they need to go ‘all-in’ and quit their full-time job to start building a future Fortune 500 company overnight. Whilst the intensity of 0 – 100 sounds great, inspiring and life-changing, the truth is it isn’t always the most effective route.

More often than not, most people I see who quit their job without proper planning, end up sitting in front of their computer each day, unsure of what exactly to do. Sometimes, all that is required to birth your entrepreneurial vision is one little step in the right direction, every day.

This could be balanced with a part-time job, or self-educating yourself in the evenings after your day job. It could mean opening yourself up to low intensity clients, as you finesse your service or product offering in your spare time.

I was working as a personal trainer when I got the idea for Get Going, and continued to refine the concept whilst being employed, eventually going out on my own and getting the support of key hires, and co-owners.

3. Financial fall-back

The value of having a ‘job’ or regular income stream whilst building your ‘empire’ is two-fold: it ensures bills are paid, and retains creativity. Working under financial stress significantly hinders your ability to create, innovate and inspire others (clients, staff and suppliers).

People who are desperate for the next sale rarely do their best work, and it’s a terrible frame of mind to constantly operate from, ultimately detrimental to your health and wellbeing.

Raking in sales as an entrepreneur takes time, so be practical about how much money you need to sustain daily life. If having a side-job is not preferable, ensure you’ve banked up enough of a financial buffer to sustain yourself in the launch period, and be practical with how long it may take.

I survived on plain, boring meals for a very long time in our business’ launch.

4. Narrow-minded resilience

To be frank, even when naysayers labelled my business concept “impossible”, there was no part of me which had any doubts it would work. Birthing a start-up requires a conscious decision every day to maintain narrow-minded resilience, but that’s not easy.

It’s normal to have concerns and worries in entrepreneurship, but if you don’t truly back yourself, in my opinion you have failed from the start. It’s imperative someone can exercise strong mental stamina, because this journey will break you if you’re frail.

In the early days, had I not believed in our business concept with such narrow-minded resilience, none of our first key hires would probably have felt compelled to take the risk, and join.

Without resilience, you are either going to build from failure, or you’re simply going to fail.

The number one thing that will get you where you want to go in entrepreneurship, is learning how to eat a crap sandwich for breakfast.

Ethan Fleming, 24, is the founder and CEO of Get Going, one of Australia’s fastest growing mobile personal training fitness companies. Since launching in December 2016, Ethan has successfully grown Get Going into a multimillion dollar business and recently announced a move into franchising the brand. As someone who thrives on new challenges, in 2018 he made headlines for doing 11,000+ burpees in 24 hours, and has set himself a longer term goal of making or breaking 40 world records before the age of 40.

Ethan Fleming, 24, is the founder and CEO of Get Going
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