7 Things You Need To Know Before Starting Your Own Company In College
Catching the entrepreneurial spirit while still in school isn't difficult — graduation is imminent; the air is buzzing with the energy of your fellow movers and shakers; you're wondering what to do with your life. If you are thinking about starting a business while still in college, there are some important things to consider.
The start-up is certainly the business of our generation, and it's easy to envision a future where you answer to only yourself, show up to your swanky, industrial-chic office at noon, and make money doing something you love, but the road to Fun Work Environment is often fraught with difficulty and sacrifice. For every well-meaning family member advising you to wait until you've got a little more life experience under your belt, there is another sending you messages of support daily, encouraging you to chase your ideas while you're young and dumb. Truthfully, no one choice is right for everyone, but weighing the pros and cons of going for it versus waiting can help you to confidently tip the scales of decision in the right direction for you.
If this is the situation you find yourself in now, then consider these seven points before you make a final decision.
1. Youth and naiveté can be strengths.
While inexperience has its pitfalls, sometimes having no bad habits or preconceived expectations can be a good thing. "As an artist, I think being young and confident benefited the development of my unique style," photographer Mariah Gale tells Bustle in an email interview. "I did my own thing and didn't care so much about what other artists were doing."
2. Being a student allows you to use resources you might not have access to after graduation.
...like high-speed WiFi, conference rooms, and professors with a personal interest in your project. "Definitely take advantage of friends and willing professors, especially in other majors, to get a multi-disciplinary view of your product," Gale says. "Most people are very willing to help a college student gain more experience and perspective, and potential mentors may be more willing to share their expertise with someone at the beginning of their career."
3. Consider the amount of management experience you have under your belt.
Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso discussed the importance of management experience in an interview with Forbes, saying, "No one knows what it takes to be CEO, even CEOs. My advice would be to get some real management chops, work for some great companies, and know more than I did before you try to do what I’ve done." If you want to open a business but you have no idea what a successful company looks like from the inside, it might make more sense to hold off and educate yourself with real-world experience.
4. You'll want to formulate a business plan, and protect your idea.
Coming up with a great idea for a business isn't where the work ends. "If you think you have a solid idea, protect yourself by drafting a solid business plan, only show it to people you trust, and consider drafting contracts that protect your idea from being stolen by any collaborators," Gale says. "There are a lot of legal resources online now, like LegalZoom, that make it easier to do things the right way without spending textbook money on lawyers."
5. You'll gain invaluable real-world experience right out of the gate.
If you do decide to open your business while still in school, you'll have a head start on the education only the real world can bring. "There is no better way to accelerate your growth than to build a company,” student entrepreneur Jordan Gonen, a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis, said in an interview with Entrepreneur. “It is 100X harder than anything that happens in a classroom, but also 100X more valuable than any textbook lesson.”
6. Accessible customers are right around you every day.
Your product could be perfectly marketable to those people you already have access to. No one's saying to shove it down their throats, but it doesn't hurt that you have ready access to a consumer base that you already have a personal connection with. "If your friends are your target demographic, test your ideas out on them. If their parents are your demographic, take advantage of the connection," Gale says.
7. Potential co-founders and collaborators may be in your midst.
One person can't be great at all the things it takes to start a successful business. Leveraging the relationships you've built over the years or months you've spent in school can pay off when it comes to filling in important positions within your company. "Consider collaborating with a law student or a law professional that might want to help out. Business and marketing students can also help," says Gale. If you see there may be a strong team forming around you, then taking the leap and opening your business now may be the best idea based on the resources available.