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received several complaint emails from students who enrolled in “Entrepreneurship seminars” to learn about starting a company. A person wrote: “I paid a lot of money for the seminar as I believed that I can start a company. They made it seems so easy that if I followed what they said, I would be rich. The instructors asked whether I wanted to be like “Bill Gates” or “Steve Jobs” and showed us their “secret formula” that I had to pay extra in additional to the seminar fees but afterward, it did not work as they have promised. I do not know what to do? Please help.”

During my teaching in Asia in the last few years, I had seen many of the “get rich quick” seminars like that. There is one question that people should ask: “If it is so easy to get rich, why not so many people getting rich? Why people who teach these seminars have not become like “Bill Gates” or Steve Jobs” but had to make money by teaching others? The truth is they are making money off you instead of helping you to make money. These people are selling you a dream such as “Make a lot of money by starting a company.”; “Create a company from your laptop”; or “Become a millionaire in six months,” etc. They know that many people only want the easy way to make money, to get rich fast, so they sell them what they want, and many people pay for it and become victims to these “unethical-seminars.”

As a professor of software engineering and entrepreneurship for more than 25 years, I often advise students who want to become entrepreneur:

1) Do not quit school to become entrepreneurs. Without technical skills, it is impossible to build technology startups.

2) Learn more about technology by constantly reading on both technology and market trends.

3) Develop both technical and business skills then improve your soft skills; you need all of that to succeed.

4) No one succeeds at the first time; you have to learn as much as you can from your failures. The more you fail, the more you learn and make a better decision the next time. Successful people do not quit but draw lessons from their failures.

5) Having idea is easy, but making the idea into reality is more difficult.

6) Learn to be patient and give yourself enough time to think through so you can come up with better ideas.

7) It takes much longer than you think to build a company, it is impossible to become successful in a few months or even in a few years.

8) Success does not mean a lot of money, if you can create more jobs and helping people, you are successful.

9) Be responsible for your action and willing to admit that you are making a mistake then continue your journey.

10) If something is too good or too easy, be careful as it may not be true.

- Prof. John Vu-

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