Breaking out on your own is a tempting notion, but also a daunting challenge. On the one hand, the college could be the perfect time to kick off an entrepreneurial adventure: Many reputable businessmen have already been there and done that. Still, students often lack resources and experience to get a foothold in the market and earn the customer trust. Success seldom happens overnight and the driving forces behind it are perseverance, creativity, passion, and hard work.
1. Test the waters
A good business idea is a good start, but it needs to be fleshed out and translated into practice. Namely, as success stories make the headlines, you don’t hear that much about the bad concepts that failed miserably. So, the first thing to do is to validate your vision by talking about it. See what others think and discover ways to evaluate and test your business ideas.
2. Tap into resources
Many people are not aware that as students, they have a plethora of resources at their disposal, a set of handy tools they might as well take advantage of. Apart from friends, colleagues, and professors as test cases, one can utilize computer labs, libraries, and other spaces where studying, networking, and researching take place.
3. Take courses
Besides that, students are in a position to take a variety of courses. For instance, enrolling in a marketing course can teach an aspiring businessman how to spread word-of-mouth, carry out branding, and convey consistent messages across communication channels. Other courses that may come in handy involve entrepreneurship, innovation, prototyping, raising venture capital, etc.
4. Make good use of internships
Another sound course of action is to take internships. Getting some real-life experience goes a long way in boosting your chances of getting the operations off the ground. Therefore, don’t hesitate to try out multiple internships and familiarize yourself with the processes of launching and running a business. The more you know and learn, the better it is for your prospects.
5. Keep the costs minimal
There are a lot of well-known businesses that were launched from a dormitory. Some of them flourished and skyrocketed while their founders were still in college. Just take the example of FedEx, Microsoft, Facebook, and Napster. As you can see, dorms and student accommodation available via various services like Iglu can be a place where successful ventures start. During the early stages, renting out an office and spending a truckload of money might not be necessary.
6. Find a mentor
Freshmen seeking to start a business should strive to find a suitable mentor. It goes without saying that the most fruitful move is to go for someone you admire and trust. If you make the right choice, you will be able to gain deep insights into tools and tricks of the trade. It also helps that many universities provide mentorship programs that encompass public service, academic study, and training.
7. The launching stage
Even with some legwork, establishing a corporation or LLC is no walk in the park. Thus, make sure you understand how to protect your intellectual property with copyrights, trademarks, and patents on your logo, name, and other crown jewels of your brand. Do not let anyone snatch them before you, so start filing your business sooner rather than later.
8. Raising capital
After the company is up and running, you have to raise capital for it. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter have leveled the playing field, but being careful always pays off. The reason for this is that you always have to give investors a percentage of your business or reward them in some other way. It is highly recommended to refrain from giving away too much of your valuable enterprise.
The ball is in your court
For freshmen students, there’s no shortage of opportunities to learn the ropes to get the ball rolling. Be prepared to show patience and do not throw in the towel in case you’re off to a shaky start. And even if the business goes under, learn from your mistakes and get back to the drawing board. Try to discover unmet needs in the market and figure out the best ways to satisfy them. Oh, and remember not to let your academic career suffer too much because of your business endeavors.