Entrepreneurship is the best way to gain financial freedom. But as a college student, you might be asking yourself if it’s at all possible to run a successful business while juggling school responsibilities. Dedicating time and effort to running your business is a job in itself, and when coupled with school deadlines and exams, it becomes even more challenging.
The good thing is, it’s entirely possible to start a business while in college. You might not realise it, but the most successful CEOs (i.e., Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Michael Dell) were in college when they started their companies. If they can do it, why can’t you?
Balancing schoolwork and business management is never an easy feat. But with planning, time management, dedication, and perseverance, you might just get a degree and a business after graduating college.
That said, here are the top five tips for creating a perfect balance between school and business:
Use your time efficiently
One of the very first things you should learn once you decide to start a business while in college is proper time management. Being both a student and business owner, you’ll have more responsibilities than a regular college student. If you want to find a balance between the two, you need to make use of your time efficiently.
This could mean skipping all the time-consuming activities that could slow your progress down. Instead of going out every Friday night, use the time to work on your business strategies. While there’s nothing wrong with going out with friends every now and then, you will have to consider which activity holds much priority if you want to succeed in your venture.
It helps to jot down your schedule for the entire week. Every weekend, spend an hour or two planning your activities for the coming days. Consider your class schedule and divide your free time between schoolwork and business. You can use a color-coding scheme to rank your activities from the lowest to the highest priority. This way, you’ll know which one to do first.
Choose your college subjects wisely
As a student, you’ll have a myriad of options when choosing which subjects to take in college. If you can, pick entrepreneurship classes. You can use the assignments to do market research and feasibility studies for your business. You’ll also be able to learn about business management and apply that knowledge to your company. If you think about it, it’s like hitting two birds with one stone.
While doing your requirements for the class, you might also come across the opportunity of interviewing successful entrepreneurs. You can ask them what they did to achieve their success and how they dealt with the challenges. Chances are, you might experience the same hurdles. Armed with their strategies, it will be easier for you to handle them should you ever experience them in your business.
You can also choose an independent study course for one semester. With the extra time, you can spend more time researching about your business. For the next semester, put your knowledge into practice and take a project-based entrepreneurial class. This way, you can get feedback from your professors and get an idea of how you can improve your product/service.
Utilise school resources
As a university student, you’ll have a once-in-a-lifetime access to the different kinds of resources that are only available to enrolled students. For instance, the Wi-Fi, library materials, online resources, or even the copy and printing services can be helpful as you build your business. The best part about it is that these resources come with the tuition you’re paying for. In other words, you won’t have to spend an extra dime on them. Plus, being a student, you may get discounts off software subscriptions, saving you thousands of dollars on technology.
Colleges and universities also have organisations dedicated to the development of aspiring entrepreneurs. Look into these groups and try to see if they can help you connect with alumni who can help you in your venture.
You can also leverage your relationship with your professors and ask for business advice from them. They can help you expand your network by introducing you to other big-time entrepreneurs they may have mentored in the past.
Participate in entrepreneurship events at school
If you’re looking for the best avenue to advertise your business and attract investors, it’s through entrepreneurship events. Universities often host these events and may hold a competition where entrepreneurship students pitch their business plans or ideas to a group of people – even established professionals. If their concept wins, they could get a cash prize.
As a student entrepreneur, this gives you an opportunity to get much-needed funding for your business. With enough preparation, your business plan could win, and you can use the cash prize to grow your business. Even if you don’t get the prize, with an excellent presentation, you may be able to attract other entrepreneurs into investing in your company.
Spread the word to other university students
If you’re still in school and your business is in its early stages of operation, you probably don’t have enough budget to spend on big marketing campaigns. However, there is one thing that you can do to spread the news about your business: word of mouth.
Though it may seem old-fashioned, word of mouth is still one of the most effective marketing strategies today. The best part about it is that it won’t cost you a dime. That said, talk about your business to your friends, classmates, and even teachers. They might want to try it out. If they like it, they will be more than happy to promote your product/services to others.
While you’re at that, try to ask for their feedback. You can add the insights to your list and use that to improve your offerings further.
Is It a Good Idea to Start a Business While in College?
The simple answer is yes. But you would have to go into it wholeheartedly. Success isn’t guaranteed if you won’t make an effort to build and grow your company. Challenges and failure will be part of your journey, and it shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your entrepreneurial passion.
The beauty of being a young entrepreneur is that you have a lot of resources and time to recover if you fail. From those failures, you will can continue learning and build your business back up again. Who knows, you might just end up with a successful company even before getting your college degree.