How Student Entrepreneurs Start Their Own Businesses
There are a number of famous student entrepreneurs, including Mark Zuckerberg, who started Facebook in his dorm room. Other examples include Alexis Ohanian, who founded Reddit, and Jake Piekarski, who started ChoreHub, an online service that connects homeowners with students to do maintenance work.
Being a successful student entrepreneur requires dedication to both your business and schoolwork. The following tips will help you juggle school and business and keep moving forward.
1. Develop a business plan
A business plan is a roadmap that will guide entrepreneurs to success. It includes a description of your product or service, market analysis, financial projections and a plan for how you will grow your company.
Celentano says that students should seek out resources outside of their classes to learn more about creating a business. He suggests that students visit small business development centers, where counselors advise a range of businesses.
Students should also consider participating in entrepreneurial events and competitions at their universities. These can be an opportunity to validate their ideas, receive feedback from experts and make connections with potential investors. UVU has a variety of entrepreneurial events and competitions that offer students real-world experience, connection with professionals and the chance to win thousands of dollars in prize money.
2. Build a network
Student entrepreneurs build a network by creating relationships with peers and other people involved in their business. Networking can help student entrepreneurs gain access to funding opportunities and establish themselves as a credible business owner.
They use their networks to learn from other successful student entrepreneurs, and develop strategies to overcome challenges. They also use their networks to find mentors and acquire valuable advice on running a business.
Networking can also help students get access to discounted software and other business supplies. This can save them hundreds or even thousands of dollars on their startup costs. Additionally, student entrepreneurs should track their expenses to ensure they do not spend more than they can afford. This will prevent financial strain and allow them to claim tax deductions.
3. Create a website
When students create a website, they’re developing a skill set that can be used in many types of professions. If they don’t use it for their own business, they may find themselves creating a website for a side project or to raise awareness for an issue they care about.
Educators should try to incorporate these kinds of experiences in their curriculum. Quality experiences are real-world, meaningful to individuals and build off of each other.
For instance, a student could start by selling their old textbooks online to earn extra money for tuition. This is a great way to practice financial management skills and learn how to market products and services. It also builds credibility. Then, when the student starts their own business, they can use that experience as proof of concept.
4. Develop a marketing strategy
Students are often balancing schoolwork and business ventures, so they need to develop effective strategies for achieving both goals. This can include tools like plagiarism checkers that can help them maintain academic integrity while still being able to complete their business ventures.
Identifying the needs of your target audience and developing a marketing strategy is essential for student entrepreneurs. This is particularly important if your business is service-based, such as a cleaning company or a tutoring service.
Creating a website can be a great way to promote your services. It is also possible to market your business through word-of-mouth and social media. You can also use free online advertising platforms, such as Google Ads and Bing Ads. You can also consider advertising in local papers or distributing leaflets.
5. Get funding
In most cases, starting a business requires taking on risks. Having a clear business plan, a good credit score and the ability to convince investors are important factors in getting funding.
Many universities partner with local angel groups or venture capital funds that are willing to invest in student entrepreneurs. This is an effective way to provide seed money without taking on a lot of risk.
Other options for students include crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. These are designed to help creatives, artists and designers raise money for their projects. Other companies, such as Box, GitHub and Figma offer free plans for students with features such as unlimited storage and API calls. Some schools also run startup competitions with cash prizes. For example, the Rice Business Plan Competition offers $50,000 in prize money.