Just because you’re in college doesn’t mean you can’t also be a business owner. While your main focus should be on your studies, the skills you learn from starting your own business are just as important as what you’re getting out of a textbook.
In fact, the skills you learn from becoming an entrepreneur can be even more important when you step out into the job market. Just remember our interview with Neil Patel — he started side hustling in high school and worked on his projects all the way through college. Now he's a young millionaire!
If you’re a college student craving to tap into your entrepreneurial spirit, here’s what you can do.
All businesses start somewhere and they all start with a small idea. You don’t have the funds or the time to go big at first, but eventually you might.
To get started on your entrepreneur journey, you just need one small but great idea. Your idea doesn’t have to be original either. All it needs to be is something that aligns with your interests and that other people will pay money for.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Web design
- Freelance writing
- Classes (Investing, guitar, web design, couponing, etc.)
- Video editing
- Cleaning (commercial or residential)
That should give you enough ideas to get started. Trust me, there is a viable business idea that will suit you perfectly. The best side business you can start is one that you can enjoy. Tune into your talents and hobbies, there is something you can turn into a business.
Spread the Word
Word of mouth is the best marketing weapon known to man. Once you have decided on your business idea shout it from the rooftops. Tell all of your friends, family members, and co-workers.
Advertise where your potential clients hang out. For example, if you think your potential clients are fellow students, print out a flyer and paste it all around campus. If you think parents of high school or elementary-aged kids will be interested in your services, contact those types of schools and see if you can send information home with students.
If you are interested in starting a virtual online business, your best bet is to connect with those who have a similar business model. If they like you they’ll spread the word about your business for you.
It’s easy to give up on your business in the beginning, especially when you are working so hard but feel like you are getting nowhere. That’s how I felt for the first six months of my online business venture. Then something magical happened. Work started to pick up and when it did it picked up fast!
To stay on top of things you’ll need to set up goals to keep yourself accountable. For instance, you could make a goal to spend three hours a week marketing in the beginning. And a goal to continually tweak your marketing until it becomes effective.
Once your marketing starts working for you and you land your first couple of clients you can set income goals. You may start with a small income goal the first couple of months and gradually increase it. Before you know it you’ll be booked solid.
When your business picks up it may be hard finding the necessary time to put into it. That’s when you have to make a tough decision. Should you scale your business back or turn it into something big?
You have other obligations like your schooling and social life to keep up with. Having a successful business will require that you make sacrifices. For me, sacrifices include sleep and a social life. But, I think these sacrifices will be worth it in the end.
Another option you have is to hire employees. Instead of spending all of your spare time working on your business you could sub-out the work. In fact, there are several business owners who outsource every aspect of their business. This is something you can do too if you’re short on time.
Finally, you could look at automating as much as possible. For example, instead of taking manual payments and using a credit card reader, you could set up a web page that automates everything for you so that you don't have to worry about things.
Starting a business while you’re in college doesn’t have to be hard. If you come up with one good idea and start small you’ll be able to handle the work. You will have to continually work on your marketing at first until you land a few ongoing clients.
When your business really begins to take off is when you’ll be presented with the toughest set of choices. Being a small business owner can teach you lessons that you can’t get out of a textbook and all of your hard work and sacrifices will pay you back immensely.
Did you start a business or side hustle while you were in college?