Instability and unpredictability remain at the forefront of the business world as bosses wait with baited breath to find out how the referendum vote will impact Britain. This sentiment has caused students to veer onto the entrepreneurial path, with competition during the interview stage being another unappealing factor contributing to the change.
But as more students found their own firms, many wonder whether it’s worth spending time on university. While a degree would go a long way in backing up your talent, recent history suggests it may not necessarily offer the kind of security people expect. After all, most entrepreneurial skills are learned on the job through personal experience.
One of the greatest advocates of this philosophy is Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, who believes university is definitely the right choice if you’re looking to become a scientist. In the entrepreneurial realm, things tend to work differently though.
“Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg were all university dropouts that went on to create successful businesses,” he once said. “Nobody would question whether any of them could run a firm. However, they didn’t develop their unique and compelling approaches to disruptive innovation and leadership by reading a textbook or attending lectures, but by living through the thrill, dread and sleepless nights that come with being an entrepreneur.”
Another believer of learning as you go is Rajiv Nathwani, who founded bridging lender Quivira Capital at the age of 22. For him, university proved to be a mere stepping stone on a journey towards greater success.
“I was fortunate to attend UCL, where I studied mathematics with economics, and while I will never regret my time there I always knew it wasn’t where I wanted to be,” he told Real Business. “I wanted to be out in the real world, negotiating and making deals. I am a people person, a problem solver and a do-er. It’s why I had itchy feet at university and decided to leave early to pursue my own career and ultimately launch a business. While my parents didn’t initially agree with my decision, they supported it.
“Those who know me say my flair for business was evident from a young age, when I founded the school tuck shop at ten years old. My father taught me how to use Microsoft Excel and calculate profit margins on Haribo sweets. Being a chartered accountant, he taught me from an early age that a solid grasp of accounting was vital to any successful business.
“My first job saw me trading equities in the City of London, which was a natural role for me. But I had greater ambitions. I founded Quivira Capital after a chance introduction to the bridging finance business. I immediately sensed that this area of work and its dynamic was a good fit for me and vice versa. It had the high-pressured, time-sensitive elements, as well as ample opportunities which require creativity and novel structuring with niche transactions. I’ve never looked back since then.”
Jittery feet aside, money seems to be an all-powerful incentive to ditch class as well. Aviva research has gone on to suggest graduates only have £150 spare each month, with 37 per cent regretting attending university due to the amount of debt they rack up. Students’ perception of their degree’s value for money has also hit a downhill spiral – those least satisfied had seemingly attended British universities.
Continue reading to find out about the entrepreneur that skipped university to get real-life experience – and forgo the debt he could have ended up with.
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