Start your business after graduating: My Story!

Based on my story, I try to deconstruct this idea that it’s not recommended to start your business after graduating. Many students I meet wonder if they can start their business after graduating: if they will have what it take and if they should not consider more traditional career path.

After discovering Vietnam in 2012 during an internship, I realized that I wanted to start my career as entrepreneur in Vietnam.

The photo above and below is me, at 20 year old smiling! I was hiding some fears of the unknown. But I was also exited! First time in Vietnam, first time trying things on my own.

The truth is, I got very lucky to come to Vietnam and meet so many young entrepreneurs during this internship. This really opened my eyes and I wanted to share with you today.

Here are 5 reasons why you should do the same and start your career as an entrepreur.

Entrepreneur in Vietnam Nicolas Thanh at CDG airport with my mom

You understand “the business world” right away

When I became an entrepreneur right after my studies, I thought this would be as we taught me: people would guide me and there would be resources available to get started. But the reality of the market is that for each and every question that you have, there are thousands of answers.

So you learn to understand the business world and navigate it right after school. And this is great to learn that early because this is needed for your entire career.

For example,  I realised that building an “HR company” was difficult, so I had to build a “HR consulting services company”. What’s the difference? Well, for law makers and authorities in Vietnam it’s very different and I wanted my business to fit in those requirements.

Breaking the “you’re too young for this” limitations

Reason number 2 to start your business after graduating:

One issue I faced when I opened my business right after my studies was that I was young… And the business etiquette in Vietnam wants you to be older to be respected more. So I faced many refusal at the beginning and I had to lie on my age or restrain myself with business partners that were from the same generation.

But on the bright side, I discovered that the Vietnamese population was quite young and Ho chi Minh City was a big city, with millions business opportunities. So I decided to stop trying to please everyone and go for networking with the young generation instead of the more conservative one.

And I joined the start-up world and discovered many interesting things where being young was actually cool!

Learn the habit of pushing your limits!

When you are young you may be full of doubts. But you have one thing: you have energy!

So use this energy to constantly get out of your comfort zone and push your limits.

For example, another issue was the cultural barrier. Being a foreigner, I was facing a lot of difficulties to understand Vietnamese when they were dealing with each other. I could manage to overcome this problem by taking intensive courses (4h everyday) of Vietnamese. After 4 months, I was able to speak, read and impress my future local partners.

This would not be easy for a 50 year old entrepreneur. When we are young we can learn fast, sleep less and work more for a while. We have the energy and the abilities.

You accept to eat instant noodles every day

When your business starts, it takes time before you will be profitable and make a lot of money. Unless you’re really good or really lucky. Anyways, as a young entrepreneur you can eat instant noodles or potatoes everyday even for breakfast without any problem!

When you are older you become more careful and more picky about your food. And I am not saying you should eat bad food… but when we are young we can always be more easy going with anything. So for entrepreneurs, it’s a competitive advantage.

Building the business in “6 months” from scratch!

Being young means you will lack experience or knowledge. But you will definitely have more energy and tenacity. And so, what happened to me is I just went on a full focus for 6 months between building the legal structure, learning the local language and getting customers in 6 months.

More experienced or more funded entrepreneurs would eventually be able to afford paying for consultants and services. I couldn’t so I had to build everything from scratch. It took me a lot of efforts but because I was young I could make it.

Nicolas Thanh Entrepreneur in Vietnam

If you liked this article, you may also love this article where I share how I became number one hostel in Saigon.