We love the stories of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. We also know that they are the exception rather than the rule. But this doesn’t mean that, as a student, you should not consider starting your own business while in college. In fact, given the current economy and job market, forecasters predict that the real money to be made is not in working to make some CEO rich but in working to make yourself a comfortable if not great profit. If you think you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur, now is the time to go for it, and here’s why.
There is Very Low Risk, but the Potential for Big Rewards
Think about it. Starting a business in college is not like starting one as an adult in the real world, when eating depends upon making money. Whether your parents are funding your education or you are on grants and loans, you have a roof over your head and food to eat. You could not be in a better place to try your hand at entrepreneurship. And, whether you ultimately decide it is not for you or you ultimately achieve pretty good success, the experience and the knowledge you gain is invaluable either to yourself or to a future employer. So, find your passion – whether it’s creating games and apps, freelance writing, or crafting a product that you can sell – and make the decision to give it a whirl. And if you fail? You have lost nothing in the process. In fact, you have learned a great deal, and may even be willing to try again.
Jessica Ekstrom founded her company as a junior in college. She wasn’t a business major – she just had an idea. Her company, “Headbands of Hope,” is a for-profit business that sells headbands, and now some other items as well. For every headband purchased, one is donated to a girl with cancer, and $1 goes to cancer research. She promoted her company online, spending not a dime on paid advertising. Now, she has graduated, and her company has grown exponentially.
Start planning your business today. Jessica had no business experience, just the help of some professors from the business school.
You Have Free Resources at College
While in school, you have access to free databases for research, to speakers who come to campus, to an entrepreneurship course, and to expert advice and help from that professor of your course. You have free office space – the library, your dorm room or apartment, even the student center. Even if you are not in the business school, professors and grad students are amazingly helpful and giving people. They will answer your questions and provide lots of free advice, if only to point in the right direction to learn what you need to learn.
You Have More Free Time
While you may think that carrying a full load of coursework is burdensome, you will never realize how busy you can be when you have a full-time job and are trying to start a business on the side. While you are in college, without the responsibilities of the real world (job, family, mortgage, etc.), you have time to “test the waters.”
Employers Find You More Valuable
Even if you decide that being an entrepreneur is not for you, you will have learned many skills that employers value. You have learned finance, management, business communication, marketing – all from a real world perspective, not from lectures and textbooks. You understand accountability and how to be aggressive in a business environment. These are things that only come with experience, and you your experience even before graduating.
You Can Make Money to Help with College Expenses and Borrow Less
Having a business on the side while in college can really supplement your “poor student” budget. You can graduate with less debt while you have picked up a lot of skills at the same time. And, instead of having a part-time job somewhere, you can choose your own hours and schedule. This is a huge benefit.
There really is no downside to starting a business while in college, so long as you manage your time well and do not neglect your coursework. You have much to learn from the experience, and, at best, you may have found your career, just as Jessica Ekstrom did.
Cristina Simmons is a blogger who writes about common student issues and tips to solve them. Also she is a contributor at the educational service EssayWriting.education. You can contact Cristina on Twitter and Facebook.