The following piece was contributed as part of Business News Daily's byline series:
When I left college, I had 16 different student loans from four different servicers totaling over $74,000. I also had no job or answers to how I could manage my situation. Then it got worse.
As I began working and earning an income, I managed to double down on the mistakes I had already made. First, I defaulted on some loans, hurting my credit and my parent's credit in the process. And due to my own lack of knowledge –and some poor advice I received – I let my student loans balloon to over $107,000.
When I first graduated with debt, I didn't know where to turn or even where to find accurate information on the options available to me. But I realized ifI could gather student loan resources into one online location, people in a similar situation would surely find it valuable.
That's how I came up with the concept of Student Loan Hero– a one-stop shop for student loan borrowers who want to explore repayment options, refinance their loans, and get customized plans for managing student debt. And thus, my dream was born.
Seeing debt as a setback, not a roadblock
When I first told others of my business idea, I got lots of "uh-huhs," glazed-over looks, and effortless shrugs. For every person who loved the idea, there were two or three who thought I should just focus on my debt instead.
Looking back, I'm so glad I kept believing in a dream not everyone could see and forged ahead despite the naysayers. And, quite frankly, I'm so glad I didn't listen to people who would never have the courage to try something themselves.
That's what any aspiring business owner in debt should do. When you have a dream or business idea you truly believe in, you have to see it through to the end. Your uncle might think you're crazy, and your childhood friend might not "get it," but you have to do it anyway. Why? Because you are the type of person who sees opportunity others just can't see.
You'll have to plan for your debt, but you shouldn’t let it define your life or your goals. You may even learn to see your student debt as more of a temporary setback than anything else.
Growing to the next level
Student Loan Hero has been a successful labor of love since day one, but I am no longer running the company alone. Four years later, I now employ a full-time team of web developers, writers, and student loan experts.
Starting a business while in debt wasn't easy, but for me, the experience was more than just a money-making endeavor; I wanted it to be an authoritative voice graduates could trust as they forged their own paths out of debt. Fortunately, all of that hard work has paid off in spades.
Debt can change your life, but with the right repayment plan, you can find the funds to take care of your loans while also funding your brand new business. Don't listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.
About the author: Andrew Josuweit is the CEO of Student Loan Heroand can be found on Twitter at @StudentLoanHero.
Edited for length and clarity by Shannon Gausepohl. Have a great entrepreneurial story to tell? Contact Shannon at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our contributed content program.