3 Tips for Starting Your Own Business in College
BY ANTHONY MASTERTON
Thanks to technology and the amount of information you can have in the palm of your hands in mere seconds, starting a business in college is a real possibility and easier now than ever. Of course, just because college students have the necessary tools to start their entrepreneurial dreams while in school, it helps to remember less is more.
Tip #1: Do Less
Don’t try to start with your full idea/full concept. Ask yourself this question instead: what is the minimal viable product (MVP) of my concept that I can use to test market reception? This can be as simple as a landing page with a picture or description of your idea and an email capture, or as complex as a form that accepts pre-orders.
If you want to sell T-shirts, maybe order iron-ons of your idea and do the first few by hand, and see if you can sell those before placing a larger screen-printing order.
If you want to open a store – see if an existing store will let you rent counter or shelf space to sell a product before you take on the expense of an entire lease yourself.
It can be very attractive to “do it right” or “do it perfectly” from the start, but investing heavily in an idea you haven’t proven out yet can eat up your resources and sink your ability to pivot quickly. Doing less can also safeguard you from burnout and keep you from under-serving other important areas of your life (like class).
Tip #2: Consistency Wins Over Quality
This may be counter-intuitive, but it’s better to have a consistently low-quality product than to have a product that fluctuates between high quality and low quality.
People are happy to consistently pay for a low quality product that they know will be low-quality (McDonalds, Ramen, Greyhound bus). But if you fluctuate between low quality and high quality, customers won’t know how to set their expectations and they’ll feel negatively about your brand.
It’s much better to start off doing a little less than what you’d ultimately like to in terms of product or service but be consistent in what you provide. As your brand and business capabilities grow, add in features and services you can sustain.
Tip #3: Leverage Online Resources
As a member of Gen Z, you have an edge in entrepreneurship. You’re already a master of multichannel communications and personal branding. You grew up self-teaching skills through youtube videos and online tutorials.
There’s more than just information in terms of online resources. If you’ve ever used taskrabbit or paid a delivery fee for food, then you’re already familiar with outsourcing whether you’ve thought of it that way before or not. When it comes to scaling your business or handling basic day-to-day items, it doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your college experience. Leverage designers, and virtual assistants online from sites like Upwork or fiverr. You can often get real help for less than $4/hr, as long as you’re willing to put in a couple hours up-front to clearly define the work that you need done.
Just make sure the vendor you select has omnichannel capabilities, and if you want to select a long-term partner right from the start, make sure their product roadmap includes AI integration.
Remember that time is just as finite as money – outsource what you can, partner where you can, and leverage resources already available through your school. Most schools will offer a small budget ($200-$2,000) to student organizations, amongst other types of support. At $4/hr for virtual support resources – $200 can get you 50 hours of support. That can be a huge quality of life difference, enabling you to go out with friends a couple times a week, block out time for studying, or grab some much needed sleep.
Anthony Masterton is a young entrepreneur trying to break through in the Tech world. When he’s not working on growing his young startup, he writes about everything from tech advancements to his own experiences as a young CEO. A self starter, he likes to help others learn from his own successes and failures, as it’s always easiest to learn from experience.