It’s rare for students to have the luxury of not working during their college years. According to the figures provided by the National Center for Education Statistics in the US, over 40% of full-time and over 80% of part-time students were employed in 2018.
Another survey of the same year conducted by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University showed an even higher figure – 70% employment rate among full-time college students.
Worldwide, the situation is not much different. More than half of the students in the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, and other countries are regularly juggling work and studies.
Most of them work part-time, doing entry-level jobs just to pay their bills and regularly turning to write paper services in order to meet the academic deadlines. However, in the past two years, more and more students start their own business instead of working for someone else’s.
The reason, as explained by Forbes, is the fact that owning a business is often less risky than working for one. That was true 10 years ago, and it is still true now. But now that thousands of employees risk losing their jobs due to the global pandemic, it’s better to know how to provide for yourself on your own.
Thus the number of startups being launched by students from their dorms every year. Maybe, you’re thinking of doing that, too. But is it as easy as they say? Let’s try to find out.
Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/2FPjlAyMQTA
Why Do You Want to Do It?
First, you have to ask yourself the most important question: why do you want it? What goal would you like to achieve?
If you find yourself struggling for the answer, here are some most popular goals for student entrepreneurs:
- to earn some cash for small indulgences like cafes, cinemas, an extra pair of fancy shoes, etc.;
- to start earning enough to make ends meet and increase an overall personal living standard;
- to graduate debt-free;
- to get entrepreneurial experience early on while the risks are relatively low;
- to lay a foundation for a future prosperous business and grow a small dorm-room company into a serious enterprise;
- to help people and make a difference.
Whatever it is, it’s better to know it right from the start, as it will affect your future plans.
Narrow the Choice
But before you start making any long-term plans, it’s crucial to know what your business is going to be about. To do that, you once again have to analyze.
Primarily, you need to know what you’re good at. A liberal arts student is unlikely to create a decent tech startup, and a tech geek most probably won’t be successful as a babysitting business CEO (but who knows?). So, you have to start with your own skills and inclinations.
Once you narrow your choice of business ideas to the ones corresponding to your expertise, it will be easier to go on with your research.
However, from now on it becomes a bit more complicated, as you’ll need to analyze market demand, target audience, etc. This requires specific knowledge. So, unless you’re a marketing student, you may need some outside help on this step.
It might be worth it to start by talking things over with your relatives and friends. But if they won’t be able to help you, there is plenty of information on the internet. And though it will take time to figure things out, the knowledge you’ll gain in the process will come in handy for your future work.
Make a Plan
Once you finally make a choice, you’ll need a detailed business plan. Making one is a complex process, so, once again, you’ll either need outside help or plenty of time and patience to study the subject yourself.
Basically, your business plan should include things like:
- executive summary;
- company overview;
- industry & customer analysis;
- competitive analysis;
- marketing & operations plan;
- management team;
- financial plan.
If all this looks like rocket science at a first glance, don’t worry: you’ve already done most of the job on the previous step. The most difficult thing here – and also the crucial one for you to hedge risks – will be making a financial plan.
Manage Your Time
If you haven’t realized it yet, here’s a little side note: running a business, even if it’s a small dorm-room startup, is very time-consuming. So, it’s vital to manage your time properly right from the start, regardless of some “business coaches’” mantras about how you’ll only need a couple of hours daily.
When planning your schedule, be realistic, and don’t take on too much. Delegate whatever you can, learn all time-management and productivity tricks, and be prepared to spend hours on end behind your laptop. Because this is how business is done.
Find the Resources
Last but not least: you have to find the resources before you start. And this task can be either very easy or very complicated, depending on your business type, life situation, and connections.
Luckily, you are not confined to your own funds. If you manage to win a competition or land a grant or find a sponsor, you’ll get the money as a prize or an investment. There also are some startups that require minimum investments – at least before you decide to expand.
Needless to say, as a student, you should go for precisely this type of business idea, as students usually can’t afford to risk a large sum. And of course, taking a bank loan to launch a business, especially if you already have student debt, is a very, very bad idea. Still, there are some exceptions. There always are.
Having a business while being a student can be beneficial in many ways. Nowadays, it’s possible to launch one even from the comfort of your dorm room, so why not try to? At a first glance, the process may seem daunting, but everything is possible if you have the aptitude, know what to do, and work hard!