4 steps to starting a business as a college or university student

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With access to resources and an audience, college often proves one of the most fruitful times to begin a business

College students with an entrepreneurial spirit may not want to wait until graduation to begin formulating their business idea. Between classes, extracurriculars, and socialising, it may be difficult for students to find time to balance their workload with their entrepreneurial ambition. However, with access to resources and an audience, college often proves one of the most fruitful times to begin a business. In fact, some of the most renowned businesses, such as Reddit and Snapchat, have been created by college students.

Here are four pieces of advice to help you develop a successful business strategy and start a business while in college.

1. Determine your long-term and short-term goals

With academic, social, extracurricular, and work demands vying for your attention, it’s important to prioritise. In order to prioritise effectively, determine your long-term and short-term goals. Which do you deem more valuable in the long run: pursuing your degree, or channeling your effort into starting a business while in school? Have you chosen a major or courses that will supplement your entrepreneurial ambitions? Is your business an endeavor you see yourself committed to in the long run?

Determining where your priorities lie helps you develop a business plan. If your major or courses meld with your business goals, work on ways to balance both the academic and entrepreneurial. If you can’t see a future career with your business once you graduate, put more emphasis on your schoolwork.

2. Choose courses that supplement your goals

If you’re serious about starting a business and know you’ll be committed after graduation, consider taking classes or choosing a major that supplements your entrepreneurial aspirations. Try to pick business courses that meld both of your interests and help further your business, as well as coding classes that may provide you tech basics. In addition to choosing the correct classes, also seek courses taught by professors who can serve as resources or mentors. If possible, see what independent study options are available, so you can research information that will better serve your business and allow you to receive feedback from knowledgeable faculty.

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3. Utilise college resources

To make the most out of beginning your business in college, it’s wise to take advantage of the resources college provides you. If your college provides printing and copying services that are included in your tuition, print out reference and other materials. Your college might also offer student discounts on software or have computer labs that provide computers with expensive software installed already.

In addition to free wifi and library resources, your college also has another important resource: professors. Professors may be able to provide support or insight on starting a business, or they may have connections that would be willing to act as resources or mentors.

4. Seek funding

While you’re still in school, you have considerable access to funding options. Some colleges offer scholarships or grants for aspiring entrepreneurs who have begun a business and need help starting up.  An email address with “.edu” is advantageous, as there are outside funding opportunities specifically for student entrepreneurs.

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