Should You Start Your Small Business While You’re Still In College?

There are many things to consider before starting a small business during college.

Flickr user Nguyen Hung Vu

The perks and pitfalls of acting early on that entrepreneurial spirit.

For some entrepreneurs, starting a small business while still in university can be the best decision they’ve ever made. Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is perhaps the most well-known success story in this regard. But not all budding business owners will have the same circumstances to work with.

Zuckerberg was fortunate to have a project that he could build from the comforts of his own dorm room on his own schedule with very little seed money. Unless your business is in tech, you may find that you need more tangible components, like a storefront or a supply chain.

But no matter what industry your endeavor falls under, consider a few critical elements of building a business from the ground up.

Time for your small business

You might be thinking that you couldn’t possibly dedicate enough time to starting your small business while still in college. Between class, studying, research, and extracurricular activities, it does sound pretty daunting. But compared with your post-university schedule, it might be the most accommodating scenario you can hope for.

Once you enter full-time employment or parenthood or various other mounting responsibilities, you might just find that there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish the basics. And let’s not forget that your university schedule comes with more flexibility than you might realize.

Capital

While you’re still living under the shelter of studenthood, the basics are paid for. You know that you have shelter, food, and tuition taken care of, even if those are covered by a loan that you’ll pay back later. Once you leave that safety net, you’ll likely need to invest more money into food and shelter. That means you’ll need a job (and that means time, too).

There are also the little things that usually come ‘free’ with the college package: Internet connection, printing services, computer access, counselors, advisors, libraries, and all of the other bits that make a college a resource haven.

Marketing

College is an excellent environment in which to promote your business. You’ve got an audience of thousands, who already have a connection with you as peers, professors, and friends. What’s more is that there aren’t many degrees of separation in such a cohort, so word-of-mouth buzz is bound to spread. You’ve also got a tech-savvy bunch, ready to circulate your business via social media.

Risk

The risk of starting your small business early is relatively low. In fact, you can probably fail and do so comfortably. No matter what, it will be an invaluable learning experience. But you do want it to be successful from the start, so it’s important not to lose focus with a cavalier attitude toward your business. Take the time to think it through, ask for advice, and build a business plan before you make any of those initial moves.

Conclusions

So: should you start your small business while you’re still in the thick of academia? Yes! The perks outweigh the risks, and even the risks aren’t all that risky. You’re surrounded by more support than you may have after university. Between friends, professors, and the community as a whole that you’ve gotten to know over the years, your social resources are seemingly infinite. Your business resources are strong too, what with being in an environment built for learning and productivity and all. Just be sure to weigh the pros and cons and have a solid plan before you get started.

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