Young Entrepreneurs- Starting a Small Business in College

by Marina Salsbury · 20 comments

College Student Entrepreneurs

These days, entrepreneurship isn’t just for the mature and experienced adult genre.

More and more youngsters (and I do say that with grain of salt, being in between mature and youngster m’self!) are dipping their toes into the self-employment realm, dreaming up the next big start-up that’s going to make all their dreams come true.

And honestly, why the hell not?

Success in the world we live in today isn’t just defined as graduating with an MBA and getting a “good job”. Success today is being redefined over and over, by young and old alike on just what a perfect world and career looks like to them

Sure, going to college is never a bad thing, but who says that’s all the experience has to be? The “college experience”? Why not the “young entrepreneur’s college experience”?

That gets my vote any day of the week, and if it means you can pay your tuition without flipping burgers or working triple shifts… friggin’ A, do the damn thing already! There’s no stopping a motivated individual, no matter WHAT the age or circumstance.

If your dream is to work for yourself, and carve out a business you can rock… don’t wait, do it now. There’s no better time like the present right? P.s. Please make Marina feel welcome by dropping your thoughts in the comments below. Yowza.

Starting a small business in college is a good way for young entrepreneurs to get their feet wet, experience their first successes and failures in business without too much risk, and earn some money to help pay tuition.

Of course, there are challenges that come with being a first-time business owner, especially at a young age, but these challenges need not deter the intrepid.

Starting a small business as a college student isn’t a new idea. You’ve likely heard how Facebook and Gateway got started by young entrepreneurs in dorm rooms.

Some students’ new businesses might grow into huge companies and become their lives’ work, but for most it may simply be a way to stay afloat financially and get some real business experience besides conventional or online college before entering the corporate world.

With the average student owing about $24,000 upon graduation, some young adults want to find ways to earn extra money before student loans go into repayment. Additionally, like any entrepreneurial souls some students look at self-employment as an alternative to climbing someone else’s corporate ladder.

The layoffs of recent years have left a huge impact on younger generation, and instead of the usual 9:00 to 5:00 many would rather earn their money by themselves and in ways that that help society.

Starting a business in college is a great way for many students to put what they’re learning in the classroom into practical use. Since most will have to bootstrap their business into profitability, they’ll learn real-life lessons in how to budget time and money, and how to shop around for supplies and services they need.

There’s also less risk for student entrepreneurs in the event they do fail because generally they’re single, without dependents, and have the support of parents, scholarships, and student loans, which a thirty- or forty-year-old business owner doesn’t have.

College students have access to a huge network of people, which is a tremendous asset in starting their own businesses. Especially if they’re creating products geared towards younger people, they have a whole market literally all around them. If they need help setting up websites, writing business copy, or designing graphics, help is just a few text messages away.

When business starts picking up and they need a few employees, they can advertise on campus job boards and likely find dozens of eager applicants. In a sense, the student body is a source of future business partners and potential clients both.

There are also challenging downsides associated with starting a small business as a college student. First off, being students remains their primary job and working on the business may sometimes have to wait until evenings, weekends, or holidays. On one hand this is a huge help in teaching students how to prioritize their time and eliminate activities that aren’t beneficial to them, such as movie marathons or all-nighters drinking.

For some passionate entrepreneurs, though, this will be a true challenge. They’ll feel the urge to stay up all night to code a new website or start skipping meals and classes to fulfill orders. This obsessive drive to work on their businesses may threaten student entrepreneurs’ academics, and burning the midnight oil too often could hurt business too. For school and small business, making a schedule and sticking to it is key in finding time for everything.

A second challenge is getting the money to cover start-up costs. Most college students will find it hard to get bank loans, and family or friends may be skeptical of handing over cash to help out. The best and least risky choice is to bootstrap the business.

Many successful businesses have started this way, and as long as they continue to put some of their earnings back into their business, they’ll be able to continue to grow without need for loans. The best approach here is to start small and reinvest as much as possible.

Finally, young small business owners might not have groups of people to support or encourage them. Family may scoff at the idea of wasting hours each night doing freelance web design when they think Junior has more potential as a scientist.

Friends may not understand the importance of producing high-quality, low-cost vegan cookies when they’re happy with the brands already in the supermarket. Students without at least a few “fans” of their work will need to seek out peers who can encourage them and give them reason to not give up.

For every challenge, there’s a way around it. Even if their businesses flop, student entrepreneurs learn many lessons from that experience they just can’t get in school. When they apply that experience to their future ideas, they only stand to do better.

Being a small business owner certainly isn’t in the cards for every college student, but for those who like a good challenge, are passionate about their ideas and have plans for overcoming the challenges, success is certainly possible.

Like this post? Found it useful? Inspiring? Fracken spantabulous? Do share it, I uber uber appreciate it. (Yes, I know I make up words. It’s a genetic predisposition, can’t be helped.) Oh and parting note: Our friends over on Triberr are nominated for the Up-and-Coming Social Media Service award on Mashable. Help me make them Number 1 by casting your vote right now

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