How to Start Your Own Business While at College

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  • Some of the most successful companies now existing today were started by people while they were still in college.

    You might think that there wouldn’t be enough time, but it can be the most creative time of your younger years.

    It is also the best time because you have time away from your studies to devote to it without the pressure of looking for a job. However, there are a number of things you need to remember before you can make your business a success.

    What is Your Idea?

    Before you can start your new business, you need to make sure that you have an idea that is going to have a chance at success. Of course, you never know how it will do, but you need to have at least a fighting chance. Think about your idea ask yourself if there is anything like it anywhere else. If there is, then what is your company going to do that the others don’t? Can you bring anything else to the market that you think customers will appreciate? However, you don’t want to spend too much time developing your idea before you start to attract buyers.

    Create Your Customer Base

    Starting a new business is actually the easy part, but it takes a lot of work to make it a success. After you have thought about your idea, you need to discover who your customers are. Where can you find them, and how can you get them to see your business? If you aren’t sure where they are, then you need to do some research on your product to see where other companies are in the market.

    The benefit of being in college is that you have access to a whole amount of data that you can use to your advantage along with lecturers who may be able to guide you as to where you need to look. It is important that you start to build your customer base as soon as possible, even before you start to build your products.

    Testing Your Product

    You need to know that your product is going to work and that your customers will like it. The best way to achieve this is by creating a prototype. It doesn’t have to be an expensive version, just as long as it is functional, and your customers can use it. Things can be a lot different if your product is online such as a computer program or an app. These are easier to create, and you can add almost all of the functionality in the prototype.

    With a physical product, testing means you need to give it to potential customers to see if they like it. As you are in college, this can be other students in your year. That is far easier than trying to get people from other areas to come and test it or to send it away. With online products, you don’t have such a restriction as you can send it to anyone who wants to test it. You need to be careful, however, because they need to know that this is a prototype and not to be shared. You can draw up a non-disclosure agreement or NDA for them to sign, this will ensure that they are bound not to tell anyone.

    Making a Brochure

    One of the things that will give your potential customers an idea of what you are selling is a brochure. There are probably students on your college campus that can design something for you. It needs to have the product details and any differences it has from your competitor’s products. You can show it in its different forms such as colors or versions that people can buy. It is also important to put as much of your contact details as you have so far.

    The brochure when its finished will be the first step in your marketing campaign for your business. You can leave some at your college for your friends and other students to see and take home to their family. Allow word of mouth to spread and gather pace, because you will then get people contacting you asking for more information.

    Create a Simple Website

    Your first website doesn’t have to be anything elaborate; it can even be one of the free versions that you can create. Or, if you know a student who is a web designing wiz, then they may be able to help you. You want the site to mirror the brochure, to begin with, but maybe offer a little more information as well. If you want, you can also add a short video of you, talking about your company and what your products have to offer.

    As well as these elements, you should also think about gathering potential email marketing. Have a form on your site where people can leave their email addresses. It means you have them ready for any updates and also for future advertising purposes. Whatever type of site you decide to use, make sure that it has a way of telling you how many people are visiting your site. That will give you an indication of the potential customer base you have so far.

    Find Funding

    To even begin to start your own business, you will need some funding. You can probably get some things done cheaply, but you need to have the capital for marketing and making the prototype. There are many options when it comes to funding; you can ask your family for help, seek crowdfunding or apply for no credit check loans.

    You don’t want to borrow more than you need, and it is wise to build the business slowly and only borrow more money as you need it. Another idea for funding is to see if there are any local state or government loan schemes for small businesses. It might be harder because you are still in college, but it is worth giving it a try.

    Find Ways to Keep Your Audience Engaged

    It is important that you try to keep those that have expressed an interest in your product informed about your progress. You don’t want them to lose interest or forget about your product. You need to find engaging ways to keep them interested. One way is to start an email campaign from the email addresses they supplied. Send out something once every couple of weeks to tell them about the latest developments and any possible launch date. Add other things such as special offers for those that are on the email list as this might encourage them to tell others.

    Start a social media account so that you can post pictures or updates as you go along. Try to follow other companies that offer similar products, so you can see how they do their marketing. If your product is online, you can even send your customers a sneak preview or a beta version of the product for them to try out. It also gives you the opportunity to ask for feedback.

    Keep an Eye on the Competition

    While you are trying to get your product ready for launch, you should be taking care to see where your competitors are. Try to see what their advertising is doing and the areas they are targeting. You want to be looking at any other areas you can exploit that they are not currently pursuing.

    You should also be thinking of ways that you can use the differences in your products to tempt your customers. Highlight the things your product does that theirs doesn’t, perhaps its simpler to use, or costs less? Look to see if they are launching any new products or variations. You don’t want to be launching your product at the same time as theirs.

    Keep Going Until You Get It Right

    Starting a business isn’t a race, you don’t have to rush into getting your product out to the public. You need to make sure that when you do launch, that it is in the best possible version it can be. Once it has been launched, you can then concentrate on making it better. The one thing you need to think about is the company’s growth; you need to have the right data and the best contacts so that you can get your products in front of the right people. You can never have too much data about where your customers are. Make sure that you stay in their sights and keep them interested in your products.

    Starting your own business, no matter where you are, is a tough and stressful process. However, it can also be an amazing experience that you will always remember. You have a lot of time while at college to perfect your product and test it with your fellow students, so you should use this time wisely. Then, by the time you leave college, you might have a fully functioning product and a growing customer base.

    Image Credit: Pixabay

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