Many of us marvel at the accomplishments of the modern day, mega-rich business tycoons who have amassed a fortune beyond comprehension. Many of them have 1 thing in common: They started a business while in college. However, while we could spend hours discussing the success stories of entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, there are plenty of more practical reasons why you should consider starting a business while in college that have little to do with making billions of dollars. Here are 5 of those reasons:
- Mistakes Mean Less
First, and maybe MOST importantly, mistakes simply mean less while in college. The average college student does not have to worry about missing an electric bill because they failed a test, or not being able to feed their family because they forgot to turn in an essay. The beauty of college is that, while it can be very important, the consequences of failure are far less severe than in the “real world.”
The point here is that mistakes are far less important for a startup business while in school than they are as an adult working a full-time job. Risks are not as risky, and ideas are subjected to less ridicule because you are “still a student.” If your University is worth attending, you will have plenty of support behind your business idea if you have done your due diligence and there’s some substance behind what you want to achieve.
- Connection with Professors
The average college professor has at least a Master’s degree in their field, and many have one or multiple PhDs to their name. This represents years and years of dedication to their craft, and vast amounts of knowledge gained through their studies and experiences. Your professors are literal walking buckets of knowledge. In other words, they know way more than you do!
Not only have these professors mastered their field of study, but they are paid to pass that information on to the student body. Again, if the University/professor is worth absolutely anything, they would be thrilled to help you during office hours with your business idea.
I experienced this personally during my time at Coastal Carolina University, and have received many hours of mentoring from these bright professors. I can promise you that I would be nowhere near the business owner I am without their knowledge and experience being selflessly imparted upon me.
- Connection with Alumni
If your college has any type of school spirit or comradery, then you probably have access to hundreds/thousands of alumni who would be thrilled to help a blooming student like yourself. If these people aren’t already easily available, ask your business school or library for an alumni directory! You’ll have to do some digging, but odds are there are at least a few alumni you can contact who would be happy to jump on a phone/Skype call with you to help out.
I was also lucky enough to experience this while in school, and it better prepared me for life in general and on my business journey. My Sophomore year at CCU, I applied and was accepted into the Wall Fellows program within the business school. Before the 3rd and final interview of this process, I was made aware that Ryan Fisher, Co-Founder and Partner of Blueprint Research Group, would be present. I used this as an opportunity to do some research on Ryan and Blueprint before the final interview and then prepared questions to ask him once the interview concluded.
After a couple of weeks passed, this eventually leads to my first internship with Blueprint in New York City. As a firm dedicated to “develop[ing] and execute[ing] creative and innovative marketing research in strategy development, planning, and execution to support brand commercialization efforts” for top global pharmaceutical companies, it was a brand new experience for this, at the time, 20-year-old. While I knew very little about pharmaceuticals, it gave me a chance to work with a highly competitive company whose majority of employees hold degrees from Ivy League schools.
Long story short… contact your school’s alumni- it will pay off, and will help your business!
- Labor is Cheap
Have a business idea and need extra help to make it happen? There’s no better place I can think of than college! You have classmates who are just as broke as you and are much more willing to help for “free pizza” than the average business consultant.
Is this the best way to establish a 5-year business plan? No. Is it an excellent way to get opinions on logos, pack boxes, pass out information, and all the other miniscule activities which must be completed to start a business? Absolutely!
Take advantage of the cheap help you have now because you might not be so lucky when all of your friends graduate and have their own set of real-world problems.
- Your Resume Will Thank You
Almost any adult in the corporate world will tell you that experience trumps class work almost every single time. Your classes are important, and you should strive to do well in them. However, realize that most employers will hold internship/business experience higher than a 3.89 GPA.
The real, honest truth about starting a business in college is that you have VERY LITTLE to lose. If your business succeeds, you have either created a full-time occupation for yourself or an enjoyable side hustle which provides an extra stream of revenue. If your business fails, there are SO FEW CONSEQUENCES. Sure, it may be upsetting that everything didn’t work out, but simply think about all that you will learn by starting a business. Think about all the connections, business acumen, and hard/soft skills which you can develop by “becoming your own boss.” I’d be willing to bet that including this startup opportunity on your resume will immediately boost your marketability during your next job search.
Starting a business while in college definitely isn’t for everyone. You’ve got to first have a good idea which has the potential to provide value to others, and then work hours and hours to see this concept get off the ground. However, allow this short blog to be your reason to not let fear keep you from achieving something special. Don’t let the unknown keep you from reaching out to a professor/alumnus or asking some friends for help. You will have far fewer regrets if you try and fail then if you don’t try at all. And, if your business works out, then even better!