Tips for Students and Recent Grads Who Want to Start a Business

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  • If you’re a college student that has ambitious entrepreneurial plans for the future, there’s no better time to start planning than the present.

    Starting a business is a daunting task, and getting your ducks in a row early on in the process can be a wise investment of time and effort.

    It can allow you to inform yourself of your options, try out different business tools, and make sure that you’re ready to hit the ground running when the time comes.

    Here are a few tips and suggestions to keep in mind as you prepare to launch your business after walking the stage at your graduation ceremony.

    Consider the Cost

    There are many costs associated with starting a business. These aren’t just financial, either, although there are plenty of monetary considerations as well. Here are a few of the top entrepreneurial costs that you should have in mind as you prepare to begin your business owning adventures:

    1. A lack of consistency: From paychecks to work hours, being your own boss doesn’t simply mean you have things your own way. Make sure you’re ready for the roller coaster ride of inconsistency that is entrepreneurship.
    2. A struggle with work/life balance: While it’s possible to separate work and your personal life, the stark truth is that it’s difficult for many business owners to do so, especially in the early years of getting your feet off the ground. After all, the buck stops with you.
    3. Mental and physical strain: Owning your own business is exhausting. It can often feel like you’re never off the clock, and the stresses and strains of so many decisions can wear down your emotions over time.
    4. Financial strain: While you may eventually reach the point where you find genuine financial success, most businesses begin with considerable startup costs, regular cash infusions to keep things going, and razor-thin margins for the first few months — and at times even the first few years — of operation.

    None of these are meant to discourage or dissuade you from launching your own startup — although if merely reading a list like this makes you want to give up, you may be in the wrong line of business. Instead, take this list to heart as a warning of the challenges to come.

    Rather than causing you to give up or adopt a doom and gloom mentality, use this list to form realistic expectations of the weeks, months, and years of hard work ahead of you. If you can launch your business with reasonable expectations regarding how difficult it will be, especially early on, you’ll have a much better chance of finding ultimate success.

    Create a Business Plan

    You’ll want to begin creating a thorough business plan as early as possible. This will include things like:

    1. An executive summary of your plan: Summarize basic elements including approximate finances and how the company will be created.
    2. A business description: What is your company going to be doing?
    3. A competitive analysis: What kind of competition do you have within your industry?
    4. A design and development plan: How will you create your products and services?
    5. Marketing strategies: How will you price and promote your products or services?
    6. An operations and management section: How will the business function day-to-day?
    7. All of your predicted finances: What is all of this going to cost? Do you need to pay for hidden items like insurance, and if so, how does it vary state by state? How do you plan on financing your business?

    While this may seem intimidating, you don’t need to write up every section of your business plan right now. Just start to research each section and understand what will be required. A quality business plan will be your North Star, providing a guiding light as you launch your company.

    Think Long-Term

    As you create your plan of attack, remember to maintain a long term perspective. How can you build your business from the ground up in a way that will be sustainable?

    For instance, if you’re looking for ways to keep costs down, consider hiring a freelancer in order to avoid paying a full-time employee’s salary. If you can’t afford an office, look for a coworking space in your vicinity.

    If, on the other hand, you take routes that are shortsighted, you may find yourself in a bind before you know it. For instance, maybe you eschew the extra costs of adding cybersecurity to your company’s website since “we haven’t had any issues up to this point” — you may find yourself one day dealing with a hacked site and, even worse, you may lose customer’s personal information, which can lead to even bigger (and far more expensive) problems.

    In short, make sure to build your company with a long term strategy always in mind.

    Becoming an Entrepreneur

    Becoming an entrepreneur is a popular line of work in the early 21st-century, with tens of millions of fellow small business owners collectively blazing the trail together. However, just because entrepreneurship is a popular endeavor doesn’t mean it’s easy.

    Much like any other rewarding career, starting your own business requires patience, preparation, and commitment. You must keep the long term in mind, plan out everything you can, and prepare yourself for the uncounted emotional, physical, and financial costs that come along with being your own boss.

    Image Credit: start business by Pixabay

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