At the age of 18, we will have been in compulsory state learning for three quarters of our lives. It can therefore be overwhelming, when we reach the end of our A-Levels, to find that, suddenly, we can decide if we want to continue studying. Some students are not psychologically prepared for a world without study, and gravitate toward university largely due to fear of the unknown. I am not anti-university, it brings huge educational and social benefits, but it is not the only option after A-Levels. Especially so when it comes to the world of business.
A number of the world’s most successful people did not go to university. Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Bill Gates did not get degrees. They started in business early and got a head start on their business and tech school peers. Learning on the job, they developed pioneering and innovative approaches to product development, commercial strategy and management, and leadership through trial and error – and more besides. Bill Gates reads a book a week; even now it is still the main way that he learns about the business world.
These aren’t miraculous exceptions. Stoned, an innovative wood-fired pizza company, and Now Dating App, featured in the Independent, were start-ups recently founded by individuals who did not go to university.
Finally, starting a business straight after your A-Levels doesn’t mean you have to stop learning. You can have the best of both worlds. Today, entrepreneurs have almost universal online pay-as-you-go, e-learning and micro-learning resources available to them. Many of these are provided by universities. You can start your own business and flexibly acquire skills as you need them to help it grow and succeed.
I am a practising HR consultant working with several start-ups on an ongoing and ad-hoc basis in the London and M4 area, and am a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development or CIPD. I am the Director of thecareercafe.co.uk; thecareercafe.co.uk is a resource for start-ups and small business. It includes a blog containing career advice, small business advice articles, HR software reviews, and contains great resources such as HR Productivity Apps.