As a student in college, you can start earning yourself little amount of cash for your upkeep through your own efforts. Thinking over a business idea that will not eventually compromise your studies can pay you handsomely. This will not be an easy venture, but the advantages it may offer you is worth taking the step to pursue it.
If you are serious about your venture, assess your market, create a small business plan, and then source extra capital (whether it be through friends or family, crowd funding, or a bank loan) to make your idea a reality. There are actually university entrepreneurial loans you can access too. Unfortunately, you or your idea will never be taken seriously unless you’ve at least attempted to make it work with what you’ve got. The real challenge is this: you’ll have to do this on minimal income while at university, bringing the true entrepreneurial spirit out to play.
Starting a business at university isn’t easy but it provides the best building blocks for any future entrepreneur. Early on, you’ll learn the art of mastering time-keeping – and you’ll never have a time in your life where you have minimal responsibility, independence, and some of the best facilities on your doorstep.
At the end of the your first university year, the institute will prepare you to begin thinking about your future career so never forget that entrepreneurship, as a career, is always a serious option. After all, it never did Mark Zuckerberg any harm, did it?
Once you make your mind on starting a small side-business to compliment your financial provision while still in college, the next thing is to make a number of considerations. This will help you ensure that you do not take a wrong approach in facing your objective. The issue of cost, products and services and the market research are just some of the aspects you cannot afford to overlook.
1. Start-Up Costs
Your business idea must be simple and require minimal start-ups costs, as otherwise you will simply incur additional debt. Given the burden of student loan debt, you should avoid any concept that demands additional lending, and focus solely on those that can be funded with your existing capital.
To help achieve this, try to target a concept that taps into your existing skills and resources. For example, if you’re a journalism major, put together an underground school paper and sell ad slots to local businesses to finance the paper and earn a profit.
The Quality of the Product or Service
Even if you are only operating a part-time business venture, paying customers demand value for their hard-earned money. Therefore, you must be able to deliver a quality product or service if your idea is to be sustainable. For example, should you choose to provide a tutoring service, it is crucial that you only offer lessons in subject areas in which you have a broad knowledge base. Otherwise, your service will fall short of customer expectations, and instead of giving referrals, your customers may actively discourage others from using your service.
The Importance of Market Research
Before you commit to any side business idea, you should conduct thorough market research. Be sure to evaluate each concept individually, in terms of both your chosen market and how you intend to reach target consumers.
Just like many small businesses, student run businesses are faced with daunting challenges that spell doom for the ventures unless the owner acts swiftly to contain the situation. These challenges are, however, more or less inevitable in many of the businesses, as many young and new entrepreneurs lack planning, management skills as well as other inefficiencies that expose them to challenges in succeeding in their businesses.
Lack of management skills
The solution is to determine what those areas of weakness are and then to develop a plan for dealing with those challenges. Once you spend the time to recognize a weakness — as long as it is not in a core area for the specific business — it often can be compensated for without a lot of time, effort or money.
Solutions can be as simple as assigning the responsibility to an existing manager with a requirement to watch for the obvious pitfalls, to hiring a person part-time or a consultant. The solutions are often obvious if one spends a little time planning and assigning responsibility. And yes, it often is effective to assign that responsibility to yourself as you then know that you have to deal with the issues rather than waiting for an issue to become a real problem.
Lack of a plan
If your plan sets out certain objectives you are much more likely to achieve – or exceed – them than if you just keep barreling along. Research has often shown this to be true and it stands to reason that having a plan will enable you to often think through and implement the steps necessary to achieve that plan;
Most SMEs spend so much time dealing with the “alligators” that are snapping at their rear end that it is difficult to recognize the steps necessary to achieve your long-term objectives. A plan disciplines you to look “beyond the weeds” from time to time; and
A plan can often alert you to inconsistencies that need to be managed e.g. a lack of capital or other resources necessary to fund the growth projected. Once recognized you are in a position to better manage the limiting factor.