I'm excited to introduce Lisa Michaels to you in this guest blog post. She shares some great ideas around how college students (or anyone really) can start their first business venture. Enjoy!
Many people dream about their first business venture and being their own boss someday. Starting your first business has never been a more realistic dream than at this time.
College not only prepares us for life but business and career success too. Yet, only a handful of students see it as an opportunity to prepare for business and hone their entrepreneurship skills. Most still mistakenly assume that they will get enough experience simply by taking classes.
Does this mean classes don’t help? Not entirely. You see, the habits that you establish and develop in college are the ones that actually determine your ultimate success in business.
Starting your own business venture right after college is feasible. Some even do it in college!
But how exactly can college help prepare us for the world of entrepreneurship and business? Here are some things you can do in college that will speed things along.
Prepare For Your First Business Venture
1. Internship Opportunities and the Art of Cold-Emailing
Cold emailing might seem tedious when you send out tens and hundreds of emails only to receive a handful of replies. Well buckle up, future entrepreneur, because this is what every business owner must do.
To sharpen your cold emailing skills, start with applying for an internship in companies that interest you. You might want to look at internships that are heavily sought after. Sure, there’s more competition, but this makes success even better. Even if you don’t succeed, you will learn valuable lessons.
Not shirking away from competition will help you better succeed in any kind of competitive market. Besides, those most popular internships are also the ones where you’ll get the best skill sets.
2. College is a Perfect Place to Hone Negotiation Skills
There will be many times in your business when vendors need payment before clients have paid you. Or you need better rates from your vendors to keep your pricing competitive. Business is dependent on the art of negotiation to keep things afloat.
College is the perfect opportunity to learn to navigate well around deadlines, requirements and other things that might pop up. You might not be able to meet all your deadlines for coursework. Learning to communicate and negotiate with professors, instructors, and various departments will be invaluable in the business world.
3. College is Where You Build Your Business Network
Whether you participate in Greek life or simply seek out the right friends and mentors, the relationships you build in college can stand you in good stead throughout life. It’s never too early for networking. Expand your friend circle and don’t shy away from having colleagues. Always treat your colleagues justly and with respect. Even if they are not close friends, they will prove invaluable later on.
Focus on finding THE mentor. The right mentor will be one of your most important assets throughout and after college. Not only will such a mentor help you in the future, but he or she will also offer guidance and steer you in the right direction while you’re still in college.
The right friends and mentors can open doors for you and even help you raise capital for your first business venture.
4. Choose the Right Classes
Many students often choose classes they feel will be the easiest and least time-consuming. While it’s tempting, don’t be one of them. Instead, choose classes that will provide the most well-rounded education and contribute the most to your future business success.
Classes like finance, accounting, economics, even public speaking or computer science will help you master important skills that will help you get your business venture off the ground.
5. Use Tech and Software
For most of us, college is the first real taste of independence. It’s both thrilling and terrifying. From taking care of groceries to balancing daily chores and college stuff, learning to manage your time wisely can help you better balance your educational responsibilities with an active social life. After college, this will help you achieve a better work-life balance.
Time and project management skills need to be mastered, but it is also helpful to use tools specifically designed to do both.
By learning to use tools like Asana, Basecamp or Focus Booster, you not only learn to manage your time better but also be in a better position to help others when you start your own business. Technology enables both business owners and employees to use their time more productively and can help change your approach to tasks and strategic thinking.
If you invest time into learning familiar tools like Google Suite or Microsoft Office 365 and incorporate them into organizing your day and coursework, you’ll have an upper hand when it comes to combining more complex processes.
6. Get a Part-Time Job
Having a part-time job or side hustle helps you generate some extra income, which makes students loans a lot less scary, and it’s the best way to get some firsthand business skills and experience.
For example, if you want to be a lawyer, then interning with a prestigious law firm is certainly a coup. But learning to deal with the general public while working in a fast-paced fast food environment can also be an invaluable experience that will help you deal with the high-pressure legal world.
7. Learn to Manage Your Money
Managing your finances is a vastly different issue from simply making sure your bills are paid every month. Many college students struggle to do just that. Money management means having a good strategy and discipline – you need to set a budget, set aside money for savings and even possibly learn a bit about investing your money.
Too many people wait until they have more money to develop good financial disciplines, but the problem is that without good financial discipline, you will never have “more money.”
If you keep spending as fast as you earn, there will never be a surplus to work with. Ultimately, that means your future business venture will never be profitable.
8. Start a Business Venture in College
If you’re dreaming about your very own business venture, then starting a club, group or organization in college is a good place to start. Never forget that some of the largest corporations in the world, including Nike, Facebook, and Microsoft, were either developed by college students as a side hustle while they were in college or came out of relationships formed in college.
College will provide you with plenty of opportunities for an active social life and there is certainly nothing wrong with taking advantage of that. In fact, your social contacts can one day turn into valuable business contacts. Just like all of life, however, your social life needs to be balanced with the hard realities of preparing for life after college.
The ultimate purpose of college is not to simply help you meet a lot of people or have a lot of fun, it is to prepare you for a successful career.
Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in business and tech. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.
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