Students not launching the next Google? Don’t worry—they’re still entrepreneurs.
Sure, every entrepreneurship professor wants to be able to boast, “I taught the gal (or guy) who started (the next Google, Airbnb, Uber, or other unicorn).” But the truth is: it’s probably not going to happen.
Most of the entrepreneurs graduating class of 2016 will eventually start businesses, but not billion dollar companies.
And that’s just fine. In fact, one could successfully argue an economy benefits more from the creation of 100,000 smaller businesses, each employing 10–100 people, more than it benefits from one huge enterprise.
That’s not to say that some of these smaller businesses you help inspire won’t grow into larger corporations.
Take Brian Rudolph, for example, the co-founder of Banza, a company that manufactures pasta made out of chickpeas rather than wheat flour. He graduated Emory University in 2012 and experimented with a healthier version of pasta while he was a fellow at Venture for America in Detroit. He won a business plan competition prize of $500,000 in 2015, and today, his company sells to 1,700 grocery stores in the US. But he was just trying to make a healthier pasta.
Whether your students start small businesses or envision larger entrepreneurial ventures, don’t fret. Neither type of company should be perceived—by you or by them—as superior.
Very few of your graduates will go on to start Fortune-500 companies. But many will launch $10 million, $5 million, or even $1 million dollar small businesses. That may not seem as sexy as saying you’ve helped launch the next Google. But you’ve got plenty of reason to be proud of the impact you’re making on your entrepreneurial students. You’re helping create jobs, wealth, and a whole lot more.