BY MELISSA BURNS
Starting your own business while at a college or immediately after graduation is likely to be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done. However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot succeed – and even if you fail, you will acquire valuable experience that will come in handy later on. Nevertheless, plunging into the world of business head first without any preparation is not a very good idea – in this article, we will cover some of the most important things you should know and understand before you try it out.
1. You don’t necessarily need a unique product
Many first-time entrepreneurs labor under the delusion that in order to achieve success a newly-founded business has to bring something entirely new to the market. However, if this were true, we would hardly see any new businesses appear at all. In reality, the opposite is often true – truly original new businesses often fail while those that come after them and take their mistakes into account prosper. Learning from the mistakes of others is much more efficient than learning from your own errors.
2. You need a formal business plan
A formally prepared business plan is much more than, well, a formality. It gives validity to your business idea and demonstrates that it is implementable. You may believe that you know what you are doing, but until you have a detailed business plan that takes all potential contingencies into account, you are woefully unprepared. Considering your lack of expertise in this field, it may be a good idea to hire professional business plan writers to help you out the first time around.
3. The best time to start out is most likely the middle of your second year
By that time you will get used to the college routine, learn how to deal with your studying duties more efficiently and, what is probably the most important, will be a more independent and responsible adult than before. It is also the period when you generally have more time than either before or after – having founded a business at that moment means that it is going to be well-established by the time you near the end of your education and again have less time. Counter-intuitively, having a host of additional responsibilities associated with running a business is likely to take a positive effect on your studies – when you have to juggle so many things it is easier to see your life in perspective and make better decisions about the relative value of things.
4. You will have to put your own money into your business
You may believe that you have a billion-dollar idea that every investor should gobble up happily if he is at least partially sane. In reality, every second would-be entrepreneur believes something similar about the idea he has, and there is little to no chance of attracting the attention of somebody ready to pay for your attempt to study from your mistakes. Until you put a fair amount of your own money and effort into an enterprise, you are never going to be taken seriously. Before you start looking for investors, you absolutely have to try and implement your idea with what you have at hand. How successful you are at that will define whether you attract money or not.
Starting a business while at college is difficult, and no amount of tips and advice is going to change that. However, any challenge is more manageable when you know what you are up against – and we hope that what you’ve read in this article will help you make the right decision.
Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University. Nowadays she is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Follow her @melissaaburns or contact at firstname.lastname@example.org