Many students draw inspiration from successful CEOs such as Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. Both CEOs conceived and actualized their business ideas while in college. They showed us that it can be done.
Without question, starting a business at any age is hard, but it’s even harder for college students who have to balance their young businesses with schoolwork. And while The National Center for Education Statistics shows high employment rates and earning potential among college graduates, launching a startup while in college is a great way to get out of the rat race.
College students have a wealth of resources they can use to make their dreams come true–entrepreneurial programs, mentors, and networking events. The college environment is perfect for starting and growing a business.
Want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg? Here’s how to do it.
- Test Your Ideas
Some business ideas fit better into a college lifestyle than others. If you don’t want to open a brick-and-mortar store, an online business is your best bet. You can open an e-commerce store, a website to sell your products, tutor virtually, or become a social media manager.
Test your idea in college first and get the opinions of your fellow students. Ask them if they would use your products or services. Be willing to accept their suggestions on areas you can improve to make your product or service better. Use their feedback to fine-tune your business idea before coming up with a business plan.
- Utilize School Resources
College offers a lot of free and affordable resources you can use for your startup. Take advantage of resources such as free WiFi, printing services, library materials, and other tools. These are valuable resources you would pay for if you were to start a business elsewhere.
Small startups spend up to a quarter of their total budget on technology and a lot of money on marketing. If your college has a writing center, capitalize on the promotional materials and student organizations and promote your business. Also, book conference halls and use them for business meetings.
- Fund Your Business
Funding is yet another critical consideration you shouldn’t overlook in the early stages of your business. Colleges have finance offices you can approach to secure a loan and federal grants for your business.
There are also loans customized for students, like the SBA microloan. Having a “.edu” email address might be an advantage when applying for such loans, so find out how you can get one. You can also search for “car title loans near me” on search engines to find quick loans and raise funds for your business.
- Create Your Customer Base
The key to building a successful business is having a solid customer base. Avoid focusing too much on building the product without knowing who is going to buy it. If you don’t make sales, you’ll have no business.
Spend a lot of your time defining your buyer persona (someone who represents your target audience). And test the idea first before turning it into a product. Network and create a good rapport with your fellow students. These will be your immediate customers who’ll help you spread the word about your business.