Southeast Entrepreneurship Student Turns Side Hustles into Careers

Will to Do: In Their Own Words

Southeast Missouri State University senior Chance Ziegler of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, has been managing his own businesses since he was 13. It is no surprise he now owns four companies and is a double major in entrepreneurship and hospitality management.

Being a full-time student and having profitable side hustles can be arduous, but rewarding. As president of Forethought Events, an event planning service; Forethought Travel, a travel agency; Clairvoyant Media, a videography and photography media publishing company; and Late Night Books, a self-publishing company, Ziegler is part of a growing community of local entrepreneurs using their skills and passion to launch their own extraordinary careers.

He’s determined to turn his small businesses into financial independence, fulfilling not only his own entrepreneurial dreams, but also helping others along the way.

On why he wanted to start his own business, and how he became interested in hospitality management:

I didn’t want to get a real job. My mother didn’t want me to get a real job. That would take away from my academic and personal goals. So, I started a couple businesses for some side money. I started my first two businesses when I was in high school and realized I never really wanted to be on the corporate wheel. I prefer to own the wheel as opposed to being a hamster on the wheel. I started a lawn care company when I was 13. I had about five or six lawns and made $20-30 an hour. At 14, I started a tutoring agency and made $25-$50 an hour. I shut those down at the end of high school, and that’s when I opened up my event planning agency.

During this time, I realized how much I value my independence and my time. I became addicted to traveling, and that’s what got me into entrepreneurship. I shut my lawn care company and tutoring company at the end of high school, and started my event planning agency. As an event planner, the hospitality management degree complimented what I was doing really well.

On how he manages four businesses while being a full-time student:

The juggling is very complex, but it’s been like that since high school and I know I just have to really keep track of my time and stay on top of my responsibilities. I have about five calendars, several task lists and multiple management programs. I also have to constantly coordinate with all the other people involved. My network is approaching 20 people now, including people in Indianapolis, Nashville, California and other places. I even have three other part-time jobs just to fund my marketing budgets.

I still get high grades. I don’t know how, but at the end of the day, I feel I still haven’t done enough, so I push myself forward and even take on more work sometimes.

On why he chose Southeast:

Southeast just made sense for me. Southeast’s business school is consistently highly ranked, and I thought, why wouldn’t I go somewhere that is close to home, offers a wide breadth of opportunities, and in the Princeton (Review) 250 every year? I also wanted to do some international traveling. With the University’s international programs, the ability to get two degrees and the opportunity of completing my MBA in the future, Southeast was the right choice for me.

Southeast’s program is really innovative and ahead of its time. The professors really show how you can work out in the real world and how you can build your own abilities. You don’t have to start your own business to be an entrepreneur, you can go to a business and revolutionize it. It has been fascinating, and my professors have all been very valuable to me in understanding how the real-world works, how personalities interact with one another and how you can take the smallest idea and turn it into something new.

My professors and classes have also inspired me to make sure my companies do what they need to do to make the world a better place and to be respectful toward their employees. Southeast has been critical in founding my values and growing my knowledge base. Without an understanding of who you are, you can’t progress toward the future. Southeast has been a very good launch pad for me and where I am going to go.

On his future goals:

Whatever comes in my future, I’m just really excited to be doing my own thing. I was recently convinced by some of my professors to participate in the accelerated program to work towards my MBA, and I’ve started doing graduate level work in some of my classes. After I graduate next December, I hope to continue online or on campus and finish my MBA program at Southeast as well.

For my companies, in the long run I want them to grow. In the next decade or so, I’d love to be a 22-company conglomerate that focuses on the hospitality industry. I want to build companies where people really want to work, bring some values back into the corporate world and focus on people again. I want to create a culture where people and skills are valued, innovation is not challenged and people can do their thing while still being productive. At the same time, the companies are already bettering the world through our giving pledges and veterans’ programs that we just started, and I wish to continue expanding them.

On advice for other entrepreneurs:

Think long and hard about what you want to do. You have to know your community, know what you want to do and what change you want to spark. Do something you’re passionate about — don’t just go into something because that’s the fad. Try to really make a difference. That’s the reason I like hospitality so much, because I like people and I like seeing the changes I can make in individuals’ lives. That’s why I decided the companies should help and contribute through giving pledges. Be driven, but know your limits. Eliminate things from your life that aren’t going to help you in the future. It’s a complex road and, you just have to find what works for you. Every entrepreneur is different.