How to Manage a Startup While in College

Kadama team holding up a $25,000 check for completing the University of Washington Foster Jones Accelerator
University of Washington Foster School of Business building

When I first co-founded Kadama with my partner Amin Shaykho, I had only just finished my first year in college and I had to learn the hard way the difficulties of trying to make a startup successful while still maintaining high grades. There are people who consider their startup as just a side project but for most people, they want their startups to achieve large-scale success and as many have probably already realized, it can consume your entire life. Here are some lessons I learned that helped me succeed in both areas.

Make the necessary sacrifices

While it might be easy to assume that you will have to make sacrifices to either your startup or school but those aren’t the options you should be considering. For most people, there is a lot of free time available outside of academics which people tend to fill with socializing with friends, doing extracurricular activities, or simply just wasting it. While time to relax and have fun is crucial for living a healthy life, you will need to weigh your desire of success with enjoying your life in the present moment.

Learn and implement time management strategies

If you are someone who just naturally is not well organized, you will not have the option not to be if you are trying to make a successful startup while attending college. Both take an immense amount of time and are overly complex in their needs with varying deadlines and expectations. These deadlines/expectations are fixed for your school which means you will need to adapt your startup accordingly to that. You should block out time every week for your startup but have it be based on the volume of work you have at school. For example, on finals week you should be focused much more on school so you can then allocate more time when you’re not busy at school.

Continuously evaluate your goals and motivations

If running a startup and school are conflicting and you have done everything you could to be able to do both effectively but just can’t, you should ask yourself why you are doing both and what outcome you desire. Is your startup something maybe worth delaying until after you graduate or is it something that’s worth dropping school all together? These are very tough questions but eventually, you will have to make tough decisions which will both come with significant pros and cons. This way, you can be 100% focused and will be able to achieve much more than with your attention split.