Maybe you dream of being the next Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg and striking it rich with your college business idea. Or perhaps you are just looking for a way to make extra cash between classes. Whatever the case, entrepreneurship is a challenging but potentially lucrative task to mix with school projects and commitments. It is definitely possible to come up with a viable business idea while still in college. You may even be able to live out your entrepreneurship dream after graduation and skip the 9-5 grind altogether.
What Are the Advantages of Starting a Business in College?
If you’re toying with the idea of starting a business in college, you’ll need more than a vague dream of becoming an entrepreneur to see you through. College is already demanding enough. Starting a business on the side means giving up nights out, funneling any spare money to your project, and juggling multiple responsibilities. So, why go through the trouble of starting your business now rather than after you graduate?
First off, starting your business in college will give you a head start. This is especially true if you have entrepreneurial dreams after graduation. There’s a lot that goes into the planning stages of a business. You’ll need to create a business plan, do market research, estimate turnover and profit margins, choose a business name, and create a business entity. Starting a business in college lays the groundwork for your future empire, allowing you to scale your business after college.
College also offers bountiful resources that you would need to pay out of pocket in the real world. You have access to IT and printing resources, free internet, one-on-one time with professors and advisors, and business courses and programs. Many universities also offer grants and other financial assistance to student entrepreneurs. It will be a shame not to exploit these resources, especially considering you are paying top-dollar for them anyway.
Furthermore, starting a business in school offers the best low-risk, high reward scenario. You don’t have many commitments or assets that starting a business from scratch could jeopardize. And, if things go south, you could always go back to studying full-time. Starting a business in college is hard work. But, the stakes are far lower than after graduation, when your entire life may hinge on your business success or failure. College offers the perfect opportunity to test out business ideas and see what works and what doesn’t.
Finally, starting a business in college complements your classroom education. Running a business is an entirely different ballgame from acing your finals. Your business can help to bridge the gap between learning material and applied concepts.
The Basics of Good Business Ideas for College Students
Business ideas for college students are a dime a dozen. And, the experiences of student entrepreneurs vary widely. Even so, successful college business ventures have some core elements in common. Applying these elements will help you pick a viable business idea that you can execute successfully.
Starting a business is less about you and more about your customers. To state the obvious, a business cannot exist without customers. So while your mind is buzzing with business ideas, remember to consider who your customers will be.
Moreover, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to invest heavily in the business without first identifying your customers. Instead, you need to find out if there is demand for your product or service in the first place. Again, a little market research should help you figure this out.
You’ll also need to conduct a SWOT analysis for your business idea. Identifying the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of your idea will help you determine whether it’s viable.
Some of the crucial questions to ask about your business idea include:
- Why is this business idea different?
- What makes it stand out?
- Why is this business important?
- Why would people want to buy the product or service?
You’ll likely need to obtain funding for your business. This factor alone can make or break a business idea. So, consider how much you need to start your business when evaluating your ideas.
For example, you may have an excellent idea for an app. But, you’ll need to secure funding to cover backend development, design cost, security, testing, and architecture. A simple app with a standard UX and basic features could quickly run you upwards of $40,000. If you can’t secure funding, it may be worth scaling down your business idea, or exploring a different idea that doesn’t require as much capital.
Potential For Growth
Many student entrepreneurs aspire to grow their businesses after graduation. So, a good business idea should have good potential for growth. This growth may include venturing into new markets to expanding the product range.
To this end, you can tilt towards business ideas in expanding sectors. According to Indeed, some of the fastest-growing industries in the US include transportation, healthcare, financial services, trucking, and real estate. So venturing into any of these sectors offers plenty of room to grow your business post-graduation.
Minimum Viable Product
A minimum viable product is one of the best ways to tell if you have a good business idea. But you don’t have to go all out and pay a manufacturer to create the prototype. Instead, you can create brochures or slideshows detailing the product and its features.
Once you’re happy with the response, you can go ahead and build a prototype. Ideally, the prototype should have the minimum features you need for the product to work. Then, you can use the revenue from the product for the subsequent development stages.
This strategy works equally well for a service-based business.
3 Tools To Improve Executing Your College Business Idea
There are a couple of handy tools that you’ll need to execute your business idea.
1. Business Plan Template
Writing your first business plan may seem daunting. But, this is a critical tool to help you successfully execute your business idea. For one, a business plan enables you to paint a realistic picture of your venture. The business plan highlights the steps you need to take to launch and run your venture. You’ll get an honest look at what it takes, including potential problems you might face. A business plan also helps to organize resources and approach investors.
You don’t even need a ten-page business plan. One or two pages covering the critical aspects of your business, including company description, marketing analysis, execution plan, and marketing plan, are enough. You are also more likely to follow through with a short, clear, and concise business plan.
Fortunately, a quick Google query will yield plenty of results for business plan templates. A template provides the structure you need to create a business plan from scratch. Additionally, the template will ensure you don’t miss any crucial details.
2. Website Builder
You’ll need a website for your startup. A business website will prove indispensable in every stage of your business. For example, you can use your website to deliver videos, images, and infographics during product development. Your website will also help to drum up business once you’re up and running.
The good news is that you can build one cheaply. You don’t even need design or coding experience to publish a professional business website.
Web.com is an exceptional website builder for startups. It’s a perfect choice for people who aren’t very tech-savvy. The website builder has a straightforward drag-and-drop design to help you create your website quickly. You can also choose from hundreds of professionally designed templates to ensure your website stands out.