Starting a business while juggling the demands of a degree can seem almost impossible; with a student loan that barely covers the cost of living and almost no free time, it can be tempting to just opt for the easier route and simply find a job after graduating. However, the best job for you is more likely to be one you’ve created, rather than one desperately found after weeks of post-university panic.
Although it’s unlikely you’ll be the next Mark Zuckerberg, university is actually a good testing ground for a business idea. It provides you with a range of like-minded peers looking for new opportunities and also offers an assortment of facilities which can aid your personal project. So if you’re tempted to start your own business while at university, here’s where to begin.
Once you have a vague idea, start putting it into action as soon as possible and don’t put it off. Although it is a big risk to take, it’s best to take it during university where you can still get a degree, than later in life where you may have kids and a mortgage holding you back. If all fails, you’ve learnt from it early on so you can take all your lessons and apply them to your next idea.
As mentioned, university provides a great platform of support networks to help you with your business. A great place to start is at your university’s career centre. An adviser can easily put you in the right direction or give you some useful contacts, so take advantage of this opportunity.
Attend any networking events or seek out enterprise societies who might have members with similar aspirations. Also search for any helpful alumni that are in your industry who could share their experiences with you, or even discuss your idea with a lecturer in a certain field. Any help is beneficial.
Plan, Plan, Plan
It’s important at this stage to answer any niggling questions and properly define your idea. How much money will it cost you? How will you create your product? Where will you operate and when? How much money will you sell your product for? Who will help you? Knowing these things is essential before starting.
Do your research into previous start-ups that failed and succeeded to find out what they did right and wrong, this can help you build your own dos and don’ts list.
Find Your Space
Where you run your business will be solely dependent on what your business is. But whether you work from your bedroom or from an office, you will need to find a space that will allow you to concentrate and increase productivity.
Dedicate some time to work on your business, but also put some time aside for your studies. It’s important to have a balance and take regular breaks to not overload yourself.
You could be the next Bill Gates in the making, but if you do not market yourself properly, no one will know about you or your business. Start by building a website and getting business cards to hand out at any networking events. Try to use an overall mix of marketing channels, such as newspaper adverts and social media. It’s best to target your product on a platform that will be widely used by the demographic of your target audience.
Learn from Any Failure
It’s also very important to know when to walk away. Be honest with yourself and don’t risk your future for something that just isn’t going to work out.
Even if things have not gone as planned and you’ve devoted a lot of time you cannot get back into a failed project, you will still have acquired invaluable experience. For example, you’ve learnt time and money management, not to mention marketing and networking skills, which will definitely give you outstanding CV points for the future.
Good luck with your business! If you have any additional advice to share with potential entrepreneurs, please comment below!