5 Tips for Starting a Business in College

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By Jacob Maslow

There is a saying regarding youth players in sports: if they’re good enough, they’re old enough. That is equally applicable in the business world, and the average age of the successful entrepreneur has fallen dramatically in recent years. Look at all the global online phenomena that young people started.

Maybe this is mainly because they are based on digital technology, and young people tend to have a better grasp of that than their elders because they have grown up with it. Whatever the reason, there are people out there, from Mark Zuckerberg to Larry Page and Sergei Brin, who have had ideas, worked on them, and achieved incredible results, starting in their student days. Who wouldn’t want to follow in their footsteps? So here are some pointers.

1. Have a Brilliant Idea

Easier said than done, of course, but if you’re inclined, you can do it. In the old days, it was all about spotting a gap in the market and coming up with something to fill it. That is still one way of looking at it, but with technology enabling completely new ideas to flourish, thinking outside the box is the way to go now. There are so many benefits of focusing on a niche business, so you truly have so many options.

Put your mind in neutral and think about what can and can’t be done yet. Maybe look at some science fiction and see what unfeasible ideas are portrayed as part of everyday life in the future. The original Star Trek series, the one with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, had personal communication devices when the world was still using telephones the size of a loaf of bread. So, you’re too late to invent the mobile phone, but what about the transporter device that dematerialized people and reformed them somewhere else? Nobody has done that yet.

Something like this will have teething troubles, but those can always be overcome. Someone is transported from New York to Aspen, but their navel ends up in Albuquerque by mistake. You’ve got the basic principle; your technology needs refining, and tightening up, so you get the development guys on the case while your legal team settles the lawsuit out of court.

2. Being Financially Secure: How to Get the Funding

Almost every new venture requires capital; this is where your business acumen, vision, and personality come in. There are Earnest private student loans available that can help you get the education you need to make your venture a success and give it longevity. Apply quickly and check out the different providers before settling on one. You will not have to pay a dime back until you graduate, so now is the perfect time to settle into college and think of different ways to fund your business.

Is there any additional funding you can apply for? Can you get a part-time job? What about bootstrapping your idea and asking family and friends for a contribution? Consider funding before you get too excited, as the lack of capital will be your biggest stumbling block.

3. Work out a Watertight Business Plan

You’re going to need this before you apply for the loan. You must have a thorough written plan, a clear idea of how your idea will make money, and a list of what might go wrong and what you will do in those circumstances. You’ll apply the SWOT analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The bank will insist on this, and it’s a good thing they do because if you were self-financing, you might not be so rigorous in your thought processes.

4. Keeping it to Yourself

The trouble with having a brilliant idea is that it’s tempting to tell the world about it, but that is only advisable when you’ve got it to a stage where you can’t have the idea stolen and implemented before you’ve had time to launch it. So, keep it under wraps, particularly if it’s something relevant to the course you’re doing, so all your peers are going to think about it too. Maybe they can become partners because it pays to surround themselves with clever people, but you don’t want to find yourself with a competitor before your idea is fully developed.

5. Finding the Time

Becoming a businessperson while still, a student will place severe demands on your time, and graduating should still be the aim. If you can emerge at the end with a qualification that can give you a career even if your brilliant idea doesn’t fly, that would not be the end of the world. Self-discipline is not a popular notion in adolescence, but it should play an increasingly important role as a young adult with serious ambitions.

That means getting up in the morning, creating a daily routine, and maybe doing some work on your business before you go to class, then doing some more when you get home, which may result in reduced social life. But why? Sacrifices must be made if you’re going to make something incredible out of life.


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