College comes with a set of responsibilities – stressing of exams, pulling all-nighters and struggling to maintain a social life in a new and stimulating environment. Starting a company in this stage of your life may seem like an overwhelming endeavour. But, in fact, being in college provides you with the resources to do just that. Starting your business career this early can have a major effect on the rest of your life. First of all, if it’s done right, it can make you rich and if not – it will be an invaluable experience for your next career move.
Use the resources
Although you’re 20-something millennial with no prior experience – you’re also surrounded by experts in their fields as well as with a lot of inexpensive (or even free) help. Your professors would probably be more than willing to help you out with advice and guidance and your classmates with an extra pair of hands. This goes for the more mundane recourses as well – you can use the computers or the printers when you need and a college library can be a quiet place to have a meeting. But most importantly – network. In a couple of years your classmates will start careers in different industries and contacts are crucial.
Once your business takes off a bit (enough to know that you could do it for a couple of years after college), you should start adjusting the curriculum to your new needs. This doesn’t always mean taking the classes directly related to the business you’re in – marketing or accounting courses would mean a lot to any businessperson because those tasks are the biggest part of your day to day work. If you can’t manage additional courses with your work and studies, think about enrolling in summer courses. It may be extra work, but it pays off.
Work on a budget
You may be a young entrepreneur, but you’re also a college student and this is the period when it’s perfectly acceptable to be on a budget. For instance, when you’re looking for an apartment, find the one that offers communal facilities as well, like this student accommodation in Brisbane has. This way, you get an office space before you can actually afford one. Take meetings at restaurants only when you have to (or when you want to project a certain image). Use free IT tools you can find online – most of them are quite enough to cover the needs of a small business. Only item on which you shouldn’t try to cut corners are the employees – establish a trustworthy reputation right away.
Protect your property
It may seem like it’s too soon to think about this, because when you start your business, it is basically a couple of friends in a room – but it’s not. Everything you create – your ideas, patents, copyrights even the company name and logo can be classified as intellectual property. Create a corporation or LLC right away, so you know you’re protected. Choosing one over the other makes a difference in taxes and in other legal matters, so it would be wise to go over this with a lawyer and accountant. You could probably find one among your professors.
Don’t give away too much ownership
Ownership is probably the only thing you can give, at least at first. Classmates who help you out at first will probably get a share, as well as your first investor and naturally, you may feel obligated to share the ownership with some of your professors and mentors. Just remember it can be pretty easy to give away 50 percent of your business, which may not seem much right now, but if the business takes off, you might come to regret this decision. It’s a balancing act – those who help you build your business deserve to get a portion of it, but at the same time, you have to think about the business you could potentially have, not just the one you have now.
It’s OK to fail
In the end, remember that it’s OK to fail. Most of the start-ups fail in the first year. Everyone gets a second chance, especially college students. Just try to learn something from the experience and try to move on as quickly as you can.