When I was 20, I made a bold decision that would change my life forever; I dropped out of university. My friends and family all thought I had lost my mind. I told them I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I tried in college but I just kept thinking for myself, I need to be there, start a business and gain experience and learn how to start, run and manage a business. I decided that sitting in the classroom was not for me, and I would try my hand at being enterprising.
You see, I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was little. I successfully run my business, renting my pets to neighbors. After a successful exit, I was on my next venture: selling kids candy at Surf Camp. This is what my life was made of as a child – not Lagos and GI idols – business was my life, my constant busyness. I was constantly coming up with ideas and projects that I could use to make money. Of course earning money at that age was secondary. I came up with an idea out of thin air, and used it to create solutions, which is much more exciting than I ever felt.
I was determined to become an entrepreneur very soon, and I was convinced that a college diploma was the only way to succeed. So I worked hard at school and got into college.
Something was missing though, and I knew it. So, I did what I had to do. I left out.
For most of my life, real estate seemed to point me in the right direction. I was very interested in it and liked how entrepreneurial the business was. As I realized at first, this involves a lot of hard work and problem solving skills. So, I got my real estate license, and then went door-to-door to offer my services for buying and selling a home. I spent 3 years knocking on the door every day, until blood came out of my nostrils. At age 21, I sold more than $ 15 million worth of real estate on my own.
With all the information I was getting, and everything I was learning, I realized that I knew more about real estate than most people. It was time to take a big step. I started West Realty Advisors in 2009 at the age of 23. The goal was to use my knowledge of the real estate industry to provide returns to my investors. It was my first hedge fund.
The first few years were challenging, but I kept learning and moving on. Today, we are on track to exceed 30 million in revenue. We have bought, renovated and sold more than 1,000 homes in 26 states and hired hundreds of people.
I do not advise every entrepreneur out there to leave college. There is nothing wrong with going to college and the experience as well as the knowledge you get there can do much good. For me though, the decision to quit paid off, as I realized that college was not for me.
Today, to help entrepreneurs who may be in similar situations, I have prepared 7 key things I learned while leaving college to start a hedge fund.
1. It’s not like TV.
The media portrays entrepreneurs as rich, carefree and wild. This is not an accurate description. Reality is very difficult to swallow. For most entrepreneurs, the struggle is constant. They stay on the couch and eat ramen noodles every day before being successful. Of course, success comes to those who are diligent and smart enough, but there is no immediate formula for it and hard work cannot be discounted.
2. It’s not all money.
Of course, earning millions is a great reward, but if you start a business with the sole purpose of making money, your chances of success will be limited.
3. You must be ready to fight.
Every day will be a new challenge, a new obstacle. You have to do whatever it takes to get over it.
4. It is difficult to take care of yourself.
When you’re in the middle of a struggling business, it’s hard to take time for personal growth and your health. Accept this fact and you will be well on your way. This is one of the best things you can do to overcome obstacles. This is the ultimate deception.
5. The plan is not working.
Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like BT aint for me either. Whenever you make a plan, plan to change it.
6. Learn everything.
I read more than 50 books a year to maintain an edge. If I read 10 hours and learn a new thing that can make me more money, is my time worth it? Of course it is!
7. Relationships everything.
Concentrate on building long-term and mutually beneficial relationships. Although you may not need that person today, you will be amazed at how often or how badly you may need them in a few years. Making yourself a person who can connect two people makes you extremely valuable.
This is certainly not the only thing I have learned; This list goes on and on. Here are seven things I should know before I start this journey. If you are in the same situation, I would advise you to talk and learn with as many people as possible. If you think you’re skipping college because you don’t like learning, you’re in for a rude awakening. Learning to be successful will always be the number one thing, whether you are sitting in the classroom, having lunch with a counselor or just reading a book. The best way to ensure success is to commit yourself to learning. As my mentor taught me, focus on ABL. Always. Stay. Learning. Commit yourself to it and success will follow soon.
James C. Payne is the founder and managing partner of West Realty Advisors, LLC, a San Diego-based real estate investment fund. At age 20, James left college to start his first hedge fund. After several years of challenge, James and his team have grown the company and today they are on track to surpass 30M this year. James is a member of EO (Entrepreneurial Organization) and has been recognized by the San Diego Business Journal for two consecutive years as their 20’s: Emerging Generation Award for Best CEO of the Year and 20’s nominee.
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