Guest post by Sani Golriz
Traditionally, your college years are a time for the study and personal growth that will make you an ideal candidate for a successful career after you graduate. You may work a little to help pay the bills, but you won’t be expected to do more than deliver pizzas, serve coffee or take part in a summer internship to fulfill your role as a productive citizen.
However, some of us prefer to shoot for the stars. Michael Dell and Bill Gates are just two such people who decided that a dorm room was the perfect place for a global business empire to be born, and things seem to have worked out just fine for them.
When you think about it, they may be right. In college you’re free from most of the obligations of adulthood. You (hopefully) don’t have kids to provide for, a mortgage to pay or an hour-long commute to work.
Your financial obligations may be met by your parents, and you may have no greater money worries than the need to buy a box of ramen noodles to last the month. You’ll never again be in the position to devote yourself so entirely to a business venture, so this may be the best time to see if you have what it takes to run a successful business.
Here are just a few tips to help your new college business thrive.
Find a market
First, it’s important to understand that your business doesn’t need to change the world on day one. You don’t need to come up with an original product or service, but you do need one that’s better, cheaper or more convenient than any of your competitors.
As a college student you’re connected to a ready-made customer base in your student body, so you might want to begin by thinking about how you can capitalize on that.
What do your fellow students need? You could try something as simple as a grocery delivery service, IT assistance or a management service for local bands.
You should have the connections to provide these services better than anyone else, with the additional advantage of word of mouth advertising that your competitors will lack.
Take Advantage of Cheap Labor
Most college students could use a little extra money, and if your business requires additional staff you shouldn’t have to look beyond the campus to find willing volunteers. Your friends and classmates can offer a cheap and easy labor market in exchange for pay that needn’t be any higher than minimum wage.
Manage your time
It’s also important to consider your priorities. A successful college business is one that can succeed around your study obligations. After all, if your business prevents you from earning your degree you may as well simply drop out and save yourself the tuition fees. You need to prioritize your time and ensure that your business doesn’t prevent you from attending classes, turning in papers on time, and studying for finals.
As such, any successful college business should be time-flexible. You should be able to work on your business in your spare time, and you shouldn’t need to skip class to make it work.
Use Your Faculty
Finally, by starting a business as an undergrad student you’ll have access to the knowledge base of the entire university at your disposal, and you shouldn’t be afraid to use it. If your college includes a business school you should ask the faculty for help with everything from your tax obligations to marketing, drawing on the years of combined knowledge and experience in business many lecturers will boast.
Have you started a business while in college? Share your experience with us!
About the Author: Sani Golriz is a community blogger and active staff writer for CollegeFocus, a website dedicated to helping students deal with the challenges of college, including housing, finance, style, health, relationships, and transferring from a community college to a four-year university.