While most of your business savviness will come from on the job training, you can hone in on some of your entrepreneurial skills while still in college. For those who made an advanced decision to own their own business, many universities have designated programs to help young entrepreneurs get a great start with applied knowledge and relevant course work.
For the most part, college offers a nurturing environment for students by giving them a chance to explore, create, innovate and implement ideas. If you are a student who is thinking of starting a business soon, use your time at school to validate your ideas and build relationships that can one day help you.
Enroll in classes that interest you. If you plan to own a clothing store, be sure to take retail management classes and maybe a few electives in textile or fashion merchandising. With so many options, don’t just stick to a cookie cutter plan to graduate. Use your time on campus wisely and create a tailored schedule to determine your niche and where you’d like to focus your entrepreneurial efforts after graduation.
My daughter Ariana launched her nail polish line, Superstar Nail Lacquer, as a freshman in college. At 18 she was set on becoming a full-time business owner and full-time student. While enrolled at Michigan State University she majored in business with an emphasis in marketing. She designed an academic track that fit her lifestyle and future endeavors. She took classes during the day and ran her business at night and on the weekends. Now a college graduate, Ariana has developed a unique marketing plan using social media to create buzz and build her clientele.
After college, graduates are faced with social and economic pressures that can either derail their plans or motivate them to work harder. Here are a few things you can do to thrive and succeed on your path to entrepreneurship:
- Get a business Mentor. Network and build relationships while you’re still in school. Whether it’s a faculty member or a special guest, you will need others who can encourage and empower you. Take advantage of opportunities and events on campus that allow you to connect with recent grads and successful alums. The relationships could lead to a summer internship and quite possibly a lifelong relationship.
- Join an entrepreneurial association. Most schools have organizations that are specifically dedicated to nurturing entrepreneurial endeavors. As a member, you can foster your leadership skills, improve communication skills and take advantage of real-life business experiences. Most of these organizations are funded or overseen by business owners who are interested in helping you achieve your goals. Essentially they provide their own business network and resources to help you become more prepared as an entrepreneur.
- Set goals and focus on your dreams. Your parents and peers may be encouraging you to get a job with security. However, don’t lose sight of your business desires. Even if you have to start out working for others, be creative in how you can invest in your ideas. Create a vision board, write your goals in a journal and remember to log your ideas and inventions.
- Get a side job. A side business is good for you as a college student and beyond. It gives you an outlet to practice what you’re learning at school and a creative way to bring in more income. Monetize on your current skills set. Are you good with graphics? Consider becoming a freelance graphic designer. Are you excellent with promotions? Offer your marketing and promotion services to local businesses. If you’re an artist, sell your paintings. Your side business will help you hone your communication and marketing skills while building your confidence.