Just because you’re currently in school doesn’t mean you can’t get a jump-start on your career. If you have the dedication and a thorough understanding of both your product and market, starting your own business in college can give you valuable firsthand experience in management, professional finance, and budgeting.
If you successfully establish your business as a reputable enterprise, you can even develop a network of knowledgeable professionals who can help you now and in your future. If you should somehow fail to meet your initial projections, you’ll still be far ahead of those who wouldn’t dare strike out on their own so early, as you will have learned a great deal about the professional realm and your career field.
This isn’t to say you should be unprepared for the challenges you will have to overcome, however. Although starting your own business now could give you valuable real-world experience that will set you apart from the rest of the pack, you will need to do a great deal of homework beforehand.
Things to keep in mind if you before starting your own business while in college:
Before you run out, register a LLC, and throw money at a custom developed website, there are some things you should think about.
1) Be sure to follow all industry regulations.
Most industries have legal requirements that mandate the use of certain types of insurance and surety bonds before the government will issue you a valid business license. Many of these stipulations entail additional fees you will need to take into consideration when drawing up the budget for your new enterprise.
2) On that note, be sure you have the financial stability to do so before you start.
Develop a business plan that outlines your basic idea for financing. Some typical advice for new business owners is that they have the financial stability to be able to live on their current finances for at least two years without turning a profit.
Some entrepreneurs have found it beneficial to use leftover student loan funds to fund their business ventures. This can give you short-term access to the funds you need, but remember that you’ll be accountable for paying all applicable interest.
MLR’s Note: If you use student loans to finance a business idea that flops, you can’t escape that debt. No matter what. Bankruptcy does not let you escape from student loans, remember that!
3) Time management is key.
Before you open for business you’re going need to figure out how much time you will feasibly be able to dedicate to your business. You’ll also need to bear in mind how much time you’ll need to set aside for your studies, as well as any social life you might hope to maintain.
4) Develop an effective marketing strategy.
Oftentimes the best entrepreneurs are marketers. Consider both your product and market to determine which approach will be best suited to help you achieve your goals. Establishing an efficient website for potential consumers is typically a good investment for any new enterprise.
MLR’s Note: This is, of course, assuming you are doing B2B. Also, don’t underestimate the value of themes/templates when just starting out. $300 can go a long way to determining your market before you lay down a chunk of change on custom development!
5) Find a viable location.
You’ll need to think about where you’ll be conducting your business. It might not be feasible—or even legal—for you to operate a business out of your dorm room. Furthermore, solicitation is often prohibited throughout many college campuses. Depending on the nature of your business, you might be able to operate solely online, or you might need some face-to-face contact with your consumers.
6) Try a test-run before you open for business.
Before opening for business, run your service or product by a segment of the demographic you will be marketing to. Conduct surveys to find the best ways to communicate with your consumers, to really understand their wants and needs. You may find out that there isn’t a viable market for your idea in the area you live in. Or, you could uncover a gem of information that could help your new business succeed.
Go Ahead and Try It Out!
With the economy being down, it may be the perfect time for a startup! Also, with the surge in smart phones, there is still a demand for apps and services that are of value to the consumer and business via the mobile market.
There is still time! Brainstorm, partner with the right people, follow the above advice, and make your mark!