The Dream Killer - Why Going To University Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Still Be An Entrepreneur

It has become increasing common for people to suggest that it is more beneficial for one to skip university and reach for the stars than to take what is seen as a mundane course to achieve a piece of paper qualifying you for an office job that you didn’t want in the first place. However what they don’t realise is that university is so much more than just gaining this piece of paper. It is life experience in its self, introducing you to likeminded academics and forcing you to question everything - something that is often not possible in everyday life out side of university.
— Will Dodge
Desk - Pexel

Unfortunately, I feel that this alternative idea of university being so much more than education may not have been fairly presented. Of course, of the billions of people on this earth, a handful of those that didn’t go to university made it big - although most of these individuals at least gave university a chance and opportunity struck them at the right time as a result. Furthermore, think of the many incredibly successful entrepreneurs that did go to university and had incredible experiences that set them up for success as a result.

Now, I am not suggesting that in order to be a successful entrepreneur one must go to university or there is no hope although, what I will say is that it if your business acumen is that fantastic, university can only improve your chances of success by helping you to focus your aims.

One example that is commonly used by those suggesting that if you want to become an entrepreneur you shouldn’t go to university is Sir Richard Branson. They suggest that he simply elected to not go to university as he deemed it pointless and irrelevant.

However, In this interview, Branson cites one of his reasons for leaving school early as actually being the ultimatum offered upon him from his secondary school headmaster (that he either stay in school and focus on his studies or he leave and work on his magazine) - “you can either run your magazine or do your coursework. You can’t do both”.

This shows that one of the reasons that Richard Branson didn’t go to university was not because he felt that he would be more successful without it, but simply that he wasn’t given the opportunity to study alongside running his business. This is a rare case and he goes on to suggest that given the chance he probably would have taken a degree had he not been given that ultimatum. Branson not going to university didn’t lead directly to his success; he was just able to make the most of the options available to him at the time and university was not one of those options.

There are some clear examples of people who did give university a go, came up with ideas and had the right people around them so decided to drop university and focus on their projects. This is important, as they did not become entrepreneurs over night when they officially left university. These individuals were strongly helped by others at the university and as a result they became successful entrepreneurs. Once they had got to the stage where their business demanded too much of them they only then decided to leave and focus on their company, and of this chunk of entrepreneurs, scarcely any suggest that they regret going to university for the time they went.

Look at Mark Zuckerburg: the majority of people that he had working on the project that he came up with and started at university (also known as Facebook) were either other students at Harvard or his lecturers. Now tell me that university was not the right decision for him.

Other examples of this entrepreneurial success as a result of others at university are Larry Page (who dropped out during his PHD), also known as the founder of Google. This idea was formed and initiated at university with the help of other students. What about Michael Dell of Dell computers? Again, he came up with and executed the initial stages of Dell at university before he dropped out. Bill Gates even met (Steve Ballmer who succeeded him as the CEO of Microsoft after Gates left) at Harvard University.

Steve Jobs is perhaps one of the most famed examples of a university drop out. Although, were you aware that after he was kicked off his course at university he continued to attend university by staying in his friends room and sneaking into Calligraphy classes, an interest of his that soon developed into Apple computers’ original idea of offering alternative fonts on Word processing devices? Surely, this shows that university only enhances entrepreneurial flare and enables individuals to meet the right people and develop the right skills to pursue their entrepreneurial skills?

I can’t help but feel that there is a clear trend forming here. The entrepreneurs who didn’t go to university didn’t do so out of choice and those that did and dropped out only dropped out to focus on the business that they had either met the right contacts for or even started and successfully managed when being at university.

I feel that this may be a good time to take a look at just a few of the most successful people that did go to university and stay to gain a degree.

First, we have Britain’s very own James Dyson, founder of Dyson company (yes, as in Dyson Vacuums!) - he made his own success after graduating from the Royal College of Art. Another famed university graduate is Phil Knight: after taking a small business class at university he went on to create Blue Ribbon Sports Company (now known as Nike). The current CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi also graduated from university, as did the Chief Design Officer of Apple - Sir Jonathan Ive. The list goes on from the CEO of Hewlett Packard all the way to the owner of Tune Air (the company that owns AirAsia and QPR football club).

Now this is just a few of the vast array of successful entrepreneurs that were able to build strong careers off the back of a strong university degree, simply showing you that you do not need to give up on your entrepreneurial dreams if you decide to take up a place at University. There are countless examples of people who have been to university (even if it was just for a year or two) and still had time to exemplify their entrepreneurial flair. University can just be invaluable when it comes to providing you with the foundations of knowledge of experience and the strong contacts to help you pursue your dreams.

Either way, I feel that if you have the entrepreneurial ability and drive you will be able to achieve your aims. I do also believe that when confronted with this trade off it is always better to have gone to university and have gained that experience and built a business on strong foundations as opposed to not giving university a chance if you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to go.


This Article Was First Published By Huffington Post UK Click Below To Read The Original Post.


How social media has changed the way that brands work

When I first signed up to Facebook, I thought very little of it. I merely saw it as a way to connect with my friends online (as of course is the advertised purpose of social media). I have to admit that I never really stopped to think about how social media had just taken me right into the hands of brands that previously had no knowledge of my existence and would certainly not have been able to collect my personal data any other way.
— Will Dodge iPad

It was only very recently, when working on a series of small companies of my own, that I have been completely overwhelmed by the power of social media. It allows brands to reach an astoundingly large audience whilst doing very little and, in some cases, spending next to no money. This would never have been the case in the days before the Internet and social media. This raised a few questions in my mind and really made me reflect on two key ideas; how has social media altered the way brands work? And how has this huge increase in online marketing affected the way that we, as consumers, view the companies behind the brands?

Changing public views

Brands can now directly access a huge network to positively edit their public image. Not so long ago the only way brands could get information to the masses was via third party news companies and television advertising. This would either be very costly - in the case of television advertising (for example, should you currently wish to advertise in a late peak time slot between 8-11pm on Channel 4 you can expect to pay approximately £7,500 for just 30 seconds of advertising) - or very risky, should the media choose to portray the brand in a negative light, like how the press covered the VW US emissions scandal.

Thanks to social media, many brands have been viewed in a significantly more positive light due to the control given back to brands and their ability to launch huge, positive advertising campaigns. The media even has less control over press releases thanks to social media, as shown by IBM’s news Twitter account - which is specifically designed to release the brands latest news without the worry of negative criticism from the press. This means that brands are able to balance out any negative opinion of themselves through social media posts, hopefully creating a more positive and attractive public image - something that would not have been so easy in the time before the Internet. 

Although, if you look slightly deeper into the idea that companies can release as much information into the world as they like for very little financial cost then you could argue that the value of the information released has completely diminished. Therefore people disregard a lot of information that brands put out on their social media channels, effectively rendering it useless due to the sheer quantity of advertising saturating social media nowadays.

This creates an interesting conflict of interest for the larger brands, as in order to maintain maximum engagement from the public they need to be posting regular high quality content without inevitably spamming and annoying users. This completely undermines the reason for the brand joining a social media network in the first place and could result in the loss of regular customers in the long run, so social media can be great for impacting public opinion positively, but there's always the potential for this to go wrong.

Social media shifts brand focus

Another feature of social media is the way that it is actually able to manipulate the functionality of brands. This can have some negative implications when it ends up changing the motives of a company, for example if a large company moves to social media in order to harvest data as opposed to creating a positive image. Social media can provide a very easy front for big companies to get information from internet users that would not usually be readily available, showing that social media can provide company benefits that are not necessarily positive steps for people’s privacy.

On the other hand, many companies move to social media to reinvent their brand and create a more youthful, updated look in order for the company to stay relevant. This was executed perfectly by Fortnum and Mason who have successfully generated over 41,000 followers on Twitter, showing that even companies that have been around since 1707 are able to draw on the younger generations through social media.

Some brands are able to harness the power of social media to solve problems customers have with products, which can sometimes mean having some fun too, just look at Sainsbury's impressive use of puns in response to a complaint about fish. Research by Twitter found that 77 per cent of users who receive a reply from a brand feel more positive about the brand.

How social media has affected my brands

As a business owner, I have felt the positive effects that social media can create. It is seen as a magical platform that can help your brand build a strong name for itself, create a positive reputation and generate sales for products on an unparalleled level, as I saw with the Deltoid Bags Twitter account. By engaging with other Twitter users we have been able to find people interested in working with us to create a stronger brand as well as potential users of our backpacks, which has led to increased traffic on our website enabling us to create natural growth before we have even released our first product.

Social media has changed the way that small businesses work as it has given them more opportunity to gain exposure and find people that can help their growth through what is effectively free advertising. However, small companies can often fall into the trap of spending a lot of money to try to create engagement, rather than using the tools effectively so that engagement is authentic.

Essentially, social media, if used in a sensible and effective way, can alter brands for the better and be a company's strongest asset when it comes to improving the way the public views them. There will, of course, always be companies using social media for their own gains - but that's a risk that users have to take when signing up to these services. However, more and more brands are beginning to understand the power of social media in engaging with the public on a larger scale than would have been possible before these sites were launched. As such, modern brands have changed the way that they operate on a daily basis and there is now a major focus on maintaining a strong presence on social media.

Click on the button below to read the original article on the effects of smiling that Will wrote for This article was also featured on Virgin's Twitter account.


The smile effect - Is happiness contagious?

For hundreds of years people have been trying to work out what the key to happiness really is. Some say that it is money, others say that it is family. However, I believe that a simple smile from those around you (or even just yourself!) is enough to change the way you feel and make anyone happy.
— Will Dodge - Smile

In 2007, researchers established that yawns were contagious and that one person yawning could trigger a yawning response from those all around them even without anyone realising. Well what if this was the case with smiling? 

I have found that seeing others smile around me often makes me feel more positive about myself. This idea has been proven by multiple videos across the internet of people simply laughing or smiling resulting in happiness being spread across the world. It seems that smiles are a universal language!

In the video below, Ron Gutman discusses how smiling can help your marriage, he also suggests that the “span of smile predicts span of life” – now who wouldn’t want a longer life!?

We can also see that some psychologists suggest that smile therapy can help people who suffer from mental illness to feel better about themselves as smiling releases endorphins and helps individuals to relax. This is where people are either made to laugh or encouraged to smile and it really does show that hope and happiness can be generated from something as simple as a smile!

While in no way do I suggest that a smile is able to cure illnesses or heal the world, I do however feel that if you take just a second to smile at even just one person you see, it will spread and eventually everyone around you will be smiling, helping to create positivity, productivity and progress in the world. 

We have now established that smiling has incredible health benefits, creates positivity in everyone and can even make you live longer, what is stopping you from spreading the happiness bug? Try it today and even if you don’t like it you can go back to frowning, although I have a feeling that once you have caught the happiness bug you will not want to give it up, you may even want to pass it on and watch as everyone around you gains a significantly more positive outlook on life. So have a go right now – what’s the worst that can happen?

Click on the button below to read the original article on the effects of smiling that Will wrote for This article was also referenced on the positive news section and the article was tweed about on Sir Richard Bransons' personal Twitter account.