Why You Should Start a Business While in College

Are you thinking about starting a business in college? You're not alone. Here are some reasons why college is the best time to start a new business venture.

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College students established some of the most successful businesses in the world. In fact, some businessmen never finished college because their businesses took off before they could. Sometimes, they dropped out to do the same thing they went to college to study (ever see The Social Network?).

There are a plethora of successful businessmen that stayed the course, got their degree and still turned their college ventures into successful, thriving, profitable businesses.

This can be one of the best times in your life to try your hand at building a business and you don't have to drop out of college to do it.

Starting a Business While in College

Here are some reasons why college is the best time to start a new business venture.

You Have Access to A Greater Wealth of Resources

There will never be another time when you have the same freedom and access to capital like when you are a college student. As such, you most likely have only a few financial commitments and even several expenses paid for.

Not to mention, your classmates give you access to one of the cheapest and best think tanks and labor pools you are ever likely to run across. Your teachers can be your best mentors and offer a wealth of advice, the type you'd have to pay for one day.

In addition, there is a wide range of business endeavors you can engage in that will both give you a wealth of experience while gaining you credit in classes.

Perhaps the best part of running a business when you are in college is that there will never be a time when business failure, which is so critical to ultimate success, will be less painful for you to endure.

You Can Find Great Business Mentors

Finding great mentors will probably never be easier than when you are in college. Once you leave college, people start charging you for the same advice they will give you for free while you are in college.

Look into your college connections to see what opportunities are presented to you. Maybe you can get enrolled in a mentorship program or become a member of a startup incubator.

College offers an opportunity to start building a network that will stand you in good stead once you leave. You are exposed to a variety of people studying different fields that will achieve different levels of success. The likelihood is, you will meet people in college that will end up in finance, the tech industry and even the government.

These contacts could be invaluable in whatever business or line of work you choose to pursue.

Your Part-Time Job Can Become a Success Factor for Your Startup

No matter what kind of business you hope to one day engage in, sales will be a critical part.

Even attorneys and doctors have to gain paying clients if they want to stay in business. While they might not like to call it such, the truth is no matter what kind of product or service you offer, you are going to need to sell it to potential clients or consumers at some point.

As Mark Cuban famously says: 

“no sales, no business.”

Getting work experience in college can provide you an invaluable learning opportunity, particularly if sales is not what you want to do. One type of job that is almost always available is a job in sales. Since most sales positions are commission-based, sales jobs are present in even the worst economies, when sales are harder than ever.

If you get some sales experience and learn how to sell products well, the one thing you can count on is that you will rarely be unemployed.

Learning to sell while working for others and testing different methods before starting a business venture will raise your chances of success.

Your College Itself Can Provide Invaluable Connections

While you can build your own luck while you are in college, your college itself can provide you invaluable connections.

See if your college has partnerships with any angel investors. Or, maybe you can find an internship position through your college that might change your perspective of business and teach you things a college professor never could.

Alumni associations will give you access to a wide range of established and successful connections you will never meet otherwise.

Colleges have a vested interest in seeing their graduates succeed as it makes them more desirable as an educational destination. The more desirable they are as an educational institution, the more educational funding it brings in.

Therefore, your college has every bit as much of a desire to see you succeed as you do and will most likely offer you a wealth of tools with which to do so.

You Can Apply for An Entrepreneurship Scholarship

The first problem all business owners need to address is funding. Being an entrepreneurial college student opens the doors for entrepreneurship scholarships. This funding is unavailable to non-students, unlike crowdfunding and angel investors.

Your college business may or may not generate a great deal of income on its own, but it can still bring you a profitable return in the form of scholarships and grants. Donors and institutions know that the captains of industries of the future are often today's college students.

The same way that professional sports teams hunt talents as early as in high school, so do many venture capitalists and other investors. If you apply and win an entrepreneurship scholarship tailored to fund your first venture, starting a business in college can become worthwhile.

According to a Bloomberg report, 80% of businesses fail within the first 18 months. This means there is a great chance your first business will fail – maybe even your second and third. Handling setbacks when you are in college may be the least painful time in your entire life to have a business fail.

Starting a business in college gives you the opportunity to either get a jumpstart on building your empire or give you one of the safest places you may ever have to crash and burn.

Why College Is The Best Time To Become An Entrepreneur

If you're one of the many millennial entrepreneurs that's also in college then you'll really benefit from these tips on starting your own business.

While in college, many students come up with ideas that have the potential to make a profit or even revolutionize an industry.

However, many students are also intimidated with the challenges of starting a business.

What might surprise you, though, is that college is the best time to start a business. As a student entrepreneur, you have the time to dedicate to a company in the future, and you are in touch with what the current and next generation wants and needs.

While there are hurdles to starting a business, there are also ways to jump those hurdles.

Don’t Be Afraid to Start a Little at a Time

If there is one thing that many millennials are afraid of, it’s starting a business and not having the funds for it. After all, not only are there the startup costs of a company, there are the costs of running a business.

Additionally, there is the opportunity cost of the money they make as a business owner compared to what they would make as an employee at a pre-established company.

millennial entrepreneurs
Source: Janis Andzans

The best answer to this is to remember that college students don’t have to commit to their new business all at once. It can be worked on alongside another job in the beginning so that a student still supplements their needs such as rent and groceries.

About 35% of millennials that have their businesses start them on the side to increase their primary source of income.

Another reason to start small is that students need to balance work and school. Luckily, there are tools that students can use as to not fall behind on their studies. If you feel yourself falling getting a little off-balance, don’t be afraid to use a support system.

Startup Costs

As noted before, a huge concern for students is that they don’t have the funds to start a business. However, there are ways to find this funding that is advantageous to student entrepreneurs.

A very modern option for student entrepreneurs is to look to online fundraising through sites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter.

With these online fundraising platforms, student entrepreneurs can express their ideas and find individuals who support their ideas with financial contributions.

millennial entrepreneurs
millennial entrepreneurs

This method can also help student entrepreneurs build a customer base. That is because if someone puts money into an idea, they will want to see what they are getting out of that contribution. So, if someone contributes to a sense, they are likely to be interested in the finished product.

Student entrepreneurs can also save money by reducing start-up costs. Once again, the internet can be a valuable tool here because an entrepreneur doesn’t have to start with a brick and mortar store anymore.

If they want to sell a good, for example, they can start by selling it on an online platform. This way, they can save up the profit from this for when they want their website or a brick and mortar store.

College Is a Great Time to Learn What You Need to Know

More and more often, colleges are going beyond the basics of business and teaching students what they need to know to start and run their own business.

millennial entrepreneurs
Source: Janis Andzans

As a student entrepreneur, it’s a wise idea to take these classes. This way, you aren’t entirely winging it as you start and build a business up. Instead, these students are given a chance to learn some of the critical points of starting and running a business in a controlled environment where they aren’t dependant on a profit.

This, of course, doesn’t replace real experience as a business owner. It is, though, an excellent place to start to learn the facts that will be needed to thrive as a business.

Thinking of an Idea

Some millennials want to be entrepreneurs but aren’t quite sure what idea they want to do as a business. The great thing is that as a member of the younger generation, they know what current and – to an extent – future consumers will want and need.

millennial entrepreneurs
Source: Janis Andzans

The best way to think of a business idea is to look at what you want to be changed in the world around you. Do you see a need that has yet to be met? What about a good or service that could be improved upon?

Take the questions and answer them. How can you achieve that need? How can you improve the goods and services around you? Here you will find inspiration for your entrepreneurship.

Do the Research

Before a student starts their business, they should make sure to do their research. The worst thing an entrepreneur can do is try to make their way into a field without knowing anything about it. Reading up on an area is a great way to start. Even better, though, is finding a mentor in that field.

It might seem intimidating to start a business while in college, but this can be an opportune time to get started. When in college, you have the opportunity of time to get a business started and lead it into the future.

millennial entrepreneurs
Source: Janis Andzans

There are, of course, obstacles along the way of building your business but none that can’t be tackled. As we looked at above, funding, for one, can be approached by using online fundraisers.

In other words, starting a business in college may seem difficult, but it is the best time to put your ideas into production.

About the author

Michelle Laurey
Michelle Laurey produces stories on finance, entrepreneurship, and productivity. She is a virtual assistant for a few SMBs. Having a few loans and credit cards forced her to become financially literate and change her perspective on money. Outside her keyboard, she enjoys a good book, healthy food and bike rides. Reach out to her on Twitter.