I'm currently employed as assistant developer in a medium-sized company in my town. I'm stuck in this position because I don't have a college degree (which is required for analysts).
I have recently started college (studying by night, working by day), to try to fix that.
This past week, a family friend approached me with a business idea (an application) he wants to develop. He is the owner of a very successful company. He tends to be very smart with businesses, and the idea does sound good. He has the money and the 'smartness', which make it seem like a very good opportunity. He wants a partner, not an employee -- which means no payment during development and no guarantees of money afterwards.
Because of the 'no payment' thing, quitting my current job is not an option. I'm [recently] married and have bills to pay. I could develop the application at night, but that would mean putting a hold on getting a degree. I can't help feeling I'm way past due (I'm 25, most people are graduated by then), which makes me feel like if this experience fails, I'd be an almost 30 year old man without a college degree, with an income as little as that of an intern in my current company and without any real chance of successfully searching for better jobs.
Some people have assured me that experience as entrepeneur is great for the curriculum, but others have warned be about the 'dangers' of being 30 with no degree.
I'm not sure how the market perceives a 30 year old man still in college, even if he has good professional experience. I started working as a programmer part-time when I was 16, working full time since 18 and "playing" with programming since the age of 9-10. That usually grants me some advantage when compared to some recent graduates. I like to think I'm good enough, but the people evaluating my curriculum don't know me, don't know the quality of my work and I'm not sure I could compete with bachelors/masters in a resumé evaluation.
The question is: what is the real importance of college education and how it compares to entrepeneur experience/professional experience?
For those who might be confused by the purpose of this question (I'm talking about starting my own business and yet I'm worried about job-hunting, which doesn't make much sense), I'm just trying to cover all by bases. I'd like to make a decision knowing the consequences of every possible scenario, which obviously includes starting the business and failing.