Why College is a Perfect Time to Start a Small Business
BY KATE LARSON
College is all about getting the education you’ve always dreamed of; it’s also there to prepare you for life ahead of graduation, which is a long and tough, but rewarding, road. For most, that means heading out into the world of work and trying to get in with their ideal employer to set up a career in their favored field. But for a smaller and growing number, it’s a chance to think about starting up something of their own in the form of a business.
But, why wait until college is over to get your foot in the market? If you’ve got the ideas, college is the ideal starting point for testing out and setting up a small business.
Network of Students
At college, probably more than at any other point in your life, you are associating yourself daily with like minded and enthusiastic individuals; college is a breeding ground for partners, future colleagues, market research participants and funding opportunities, and that’s just when looking towards your fellow students. The vigor and verve that your peers contain within themselves is an as yet untapped source for all aspects that make a business successful. Contemporary thinking, antagonism, reactionary comment, political nous, attention to detail, all are there to be unveiled. Utilize fellow students’ comments and criticisms to help mold your business plan and streamline your potential products or services.
You may come to realize that a classmate is looking for an investment opportunity, or even the chance to partner up with you in your venture, bringing new ideas and avenues to explore that you wouldn’t have otherwise conjured up.
Support from Professors
Alongside your fellow students you have those who are there to lead and guide you towards enlightenment; your professors. And indeed, professors who lecture on other subjects in other faculties. There’s an eclectic mix of qualified, experienced professionals, with a heavily researched and peer-reviewed understandings of varying fields, from the arts to sciences. As with your students, it is rare that you will be encircled by so many minds that are able to offer advice and potential service for your startup.
Use these minds to discuss your business plan, or your ideas for a business plan. If your prospective business is accounting based, speak with economics and business finance professors about your ideas, see if they stack up to scrutiny; or if you have a manufacturing concept that you think will shake the foundations of the world of production, run it by industrial design or engineering professors.
Support from College
As well as professors and students, chances are your college has an entrepreneurship or startup program that you may be able to attend, and even apply for financial support through. Stanford’s Startup Garage course is the ideal hub for learning and business planning within Stanford University. These types of courses combine the basics of what it takes to go from concept to business, as well as conducting both practical and theory based learning workshops to bring the projects into the real world.
Alongside specific courses that may be on offer, the wealth of reading materials available in college libraries and via online resources is extensive to say the least. Make the most of these whilst they are available to you. Once your time with the university is up you may lose your privileges of access these sources. Read up on sources of finance, how to market, business philosophies and psychology; and read around the topic of your chosen market. If your business will be within the fashion industry, read as much around it as you can; if it will be football-based, use the resources you have to understand it as fully as you can.
Although very little of your time as a student should be ‘spare’, in reality you will have more time on your hands now than you are likely to ever have the luxury of again. Use it wisely. Downtime is important, but not as important as keeping a structure and limit to it. M. Scott Peck discusses the concept of Delayed Gratification in The Road Less Traveled, with the overarching theme of putting in hard work first, then reward yourself once your task for the moment is complete. You could be using the time you might spend watching your favorite Netflix series in binge mode by making headway on a 30 point checklist for your startup. Not only are you one step closer to achieving your dream, you now feel much better for watching that program, or reading that novel once your self-prescribed work is complete.
How to Finance
Organizing finance options for any start up is daunting, but doing so whilst studying is something that probably stops most from getting started. But, rather than putting it off, do some research into the options that are available to you. You could create a crowdfunding campaign, go to local authorities for help, utilize your college’s potential funding opportunities or apply for a business loan. There are a number of opportunities for funding available and they should not put you off starting up your business.
Most of all, utilize the opportunities around you in your current environment. With business markets, the later you get started on an idea the more likely it is that the hole that you’ve spotted will be filled by someone else. There are many areas for support for growing a business within a college setting, and utilizing them before they disappear will stand you in excellent stead for success.
Kate Larson is a college student and aspiring blogger, who has a strong interest in the environment and personal well-being. She enjoys travelling and reading, as well as writing novels.