On May 25, 2017, Mark Zuckerberg –– for many, the shining example of successful entrepreneurship –– delivered a rousing commencement speech to the graduating seniors at his alma mater, Harvard University.
Not every student in that crowd was an entrepreneur or had aspirations of starting a company, and Zuckerberg didn’t necessarily speak directly to those that did. But in a way, he was speaking to the entrepreneur in all of them, and to the motivations of those already planning to start companies. The message was clear: live with purpose, create outsized impact, and change the world.
“Purpose creates true happiness,” was Zuckerberg’s claim.
And that’s a simple claim enough, but underlying that claim was an important reminder for students not just at Harvard, but at schools across the country: don’t be afraid to make that purpose big. In his speech, Zuckerberg mentions telling a friend how excited he was to connect Harvard student’s with each other, but that one day someone would connect the whole world –– not even considering that that person might be him.
And this is a common theme with students we see at 3 Day Startup programs regardless of school or background. So often, aspiring student entrepreneurs only think to the scope of what they could do on campus, or within the bubble of their own community. While, often, that’s perfectly fine, students can or should think bigger. We know it’s hard as a college student to see yourself making that big of an impact when there are, like Zuckerberg himself thought, hundreds of larger technology companies with more resources who could do it as well.
But often, the kind of innovation that the country –– and the world –– needs most will come from young people just like you.
Because you understand the need for innovation and have the potential to create outsized change. If only because you understand the needs of the next generation more because you are so close to it.
Say what you will about Zuckerberg, but when he offers this prediction –– “A change in the world that seems so clear that you are sure someone else is going to do it. But they’re not. You will.” –– there is an inarguable amount of truth to it. The problems that the younger generation will solve will be different, have different goals, and reach different heights than innovations before them. And that’s because this generation, coming into their own, graduating high school and college, grew up differently than any other generation. The values are different, and through technology and globalization, we are all growing closer and closer together.
Through that change, this generation is presented with new challenges and opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship.
It is important that we don’t waste them.
And there may be reasons why you are scared to try. At 3 Day Startup programs I’ve facilitated, I have heard time and again smart, creative, promising, and entrepreneurial students express that they don’t believe they can accomplish something or scale their idea. Or they are terrified of failing.
But there is merit in failing, and there is value in failing. In entrepreneurship, on your first go, you very well may fail. As Zuckerberg claimed in that address, “The greatest successes come from having the freedom to fail.” Because we can pretty much guarantee that your idea for a company or a solution won’t be perfect from the start. They never are. Ideas shift and change and adapt; knowing that you have the freedom to test one or five or a hundred until you find the right fit is what makes for the most creative and successful innovations.
And the best way to make that big change is to get started.
Test the waters. Learn about your market. Learn about your problem. Take the big swings.
Zuckerberg was speaking specifically to a group of graduating Harvard students. That itself can seem like a barrier to some students, or that the words didn’t apply to them — most of us don’t have to opportunity to attend Harvard. But that same advice could be given to students from any background across the country. Right now, in colleges and universities ranging from your local community college, to that big state school, to the liberal arts college, to (yes) Harvard there are students with the creativity, drive, and passion to use entrepreneurship to change the world.
All they have to do is get to work.
Take the first step in unlocking your entrepreneurial potential. Contact us today and bring a 3 Day Startup program to your university or community. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to learn more about upcoming events and receive notifications for more blogs like this to help you on your entrepreneurial journey.