You don’t need a degree to begin a business; you don’t even need a lot of funds. In fact, many business professionals have come to the consensus that college is the best time to start your own business.
Why? Because it improves the freelance job market. Because it gives individuals a vital understanding of starting your own venture (Scott Annan, founder of AIMbitious). Because, as Sean Branagan, Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, says, “[College students] have less to lose. They’re scrappy, and can live on a couch, and eat ramen noodles, which is what a lot of these startup founders have to do. Even if a company fails, the kids got that experience. College is a great time to take that risk.” Here are four ways you can take that risk.
Fill a Need
If you don’t have a solidified idea for your business yet, all you need to do is keep your eyes open. Successful companies fill a need, and therefore come with their own market.
Watch for problems that you and your friends or classmates are having, and come up with a solution. Jessica Mah, founder of several companies including InDinero says, “This is how business ideas begin: You want to do something, and you run into problems.”
Here are some examples:
- In 2012, a group of USC students got sick of working out in an overcrowded gym and created GymFlow to predict gym usage.
- In 2007, David Wachtel created College Weekenders to provide students with affordable travel packages to allow them to follow their favorite college teams.
- In 2010, Jessica Mah started her second business venture, InternshipIN, an online database which allows college students to find and apply for high-quality internships.
Work with What You Have
In 2009, Zac Workman created the energy drink Punch, using a family fruit punch recipe and his knowledge of all-natural nutrition. The best business ventures for you will use skills and knowledge you already have.
If you have a perfect idea for a company, but are missing an element—like a stellar website, the necessary marketing knowledge, or a video camera—team up with someone who does! Creating a network and building partnerships will help your business expand.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
The internet is where it’s at in today’s business world. Even if your business has an offline presence or product, use social media to build your client base. Make building a website, Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter account a high priority. Small businesses rely on word-of-mouth for expansion and advertisement. Gear your product to your peers and then put it in front of them.
Work with an Established Partner
Don’t have an idea or can’t find the funding for your own startup? Never fear, the benefits of learning to run a business while still an undergrad are not limited to entrepreneurs. Many businesses, like Student Works Painting, have the option to open and run your own branch of the business in your area. These companies are geared toward helping students, and recent graduates transition into the business world easily.
These companies allow you to build on an established client base and business model, while learning the ins and outs of “all aspects of running a business including; recruiting, market, selling[,] and managing . . . jobs” (Student Works Painting).
The job market is undeniably tough, but by beginning your own business, you are preparing yourself for success. According to Scott Annan, the math is on your side. Annan estimates that testing a fledgling company typically takes “two to three months and cost[s] a few hundred dollars.”
Using this model, if your college career is four years long, you will have the chance to test up to 10 potential companies, one of which is sure to be a hit. Follow these four suggestions to get your first business venture up and running!