We, students, all truly and wholeheartedly loathe school and studying. And I bet we're going to loathe our jobs too when we grow up. But can we honestly say this is the only path possible? To prove that it isn't, let me present Jan and Michael from Railslove.
They were students on University in Cologne, facing the soon-to-be problem of being employed. Instead of accepting their fate they came up with their own company, which happens to now making them happy, fulfilled and it's a great place to work. But the beginnings weren't such a happy story.
When asked about their first project, they weren't really eager to answer. But let's face it, the first go at anything is never successful. If it is, you are not aiming high enough. Don't be that scared of failing, learn from your mistakes and never repeat them.
So once you've got rid of your fears of failing, it's time to go out and meet people. You can't start a company on your own. It just won't work. You need customers and employees.
There are two paths to take when doing this: either spending a bit of time on local business meetings, or lots of money on expensive advertising.
There are barcamps, there are conferences and lots of other meetings. Everything's possible; you just have to want it enough. The more people you know, the faster your network grows, and obviously, the more clients you can find.
Sooner or later the company's core members will be found, people that really "click". Watch out for those, who don't have the same goals or ambitions as you do. A great team can't be made of people who don't match. This part is crucial, with the right people you will eventually figure out how to run your business. The best of companies can be ruined by a bad team.
When starting the business, there's something you should never forget. Look at the name of Jan and Michael's company: RailsLOVE. Yes, love. If you don't love your company or what it does, don't even bother. There will be moments of doubt, dealing with mistakes and the likes. Without something that will push you, it will be very hard to go on.
But when things go awry, you don't only have to bite the bullet, but also work on the issues that have led to these problems. Call your client and tell him about the whole problem, if you don't , a downward spiral is awaiting you. Overrun deadlines have a nasty habit of multiplying. Mutually satisfying compromise will put you back on the track. Avoiding confessing to a mistake probably won't.
There's yet more about cooperation with customers. Understanding is also crucial. It is not rare for a company to see things differently from their client. If you want to avoid this remember to first deliver the visualization of whatever you're doing, so people, who know nothing about your profession, will have the same point of view that you do. Professionals ranging from architects to tailors do it (would you understand bare steel construction or know the difference between a double cross stitch and a double pleated bell stitch?). Railslove also does it. They show you what the website is going to look like and only then start working on inside scripts. You should follow their example.
What about customers who are so hard to work with? Unless you're trying to make a living, you shouldn't even bother. Try to remember that their success is your success. If your clients make it, you will too. A happy customer leads to a better reputation which will get you more customers, who will do the same thing, and once you have this spiral going it probably won't stop.
For you, internet-savvy youngsters
You yourself will know how to use this advice in the best possible way. There are, however, some additional thoughts from Railslove on the internet business, which might interest you, if you are planning your future in this industry.
As mentioned above, connections are very, very important. Not only when it comes to running a company. Knowing owners or employees of several different companies is going to help you if you'll happen to be looking for a job. Only an unhappy coincidence will allow you not to find anything.
But the thing that matters most is skill. Not having a degree in CS might make it a bit harder to get a job, but if you show your employer how good you are (if you really are good, of course), they will want you anyway, with a degree or without. Remember that skill doesnt come without hard work and learning.
And last, but not least, you have to do what you like doing. Find something you love, stick to it, desire it and get very good at it. Open your mind and head for a success in life.