Starting a business as a student is an exciting and eventful experience where you will have to face many hurdles in order to become successful. Throughout the process of starting my own business, I went through several challenges that many students who own businesses face and learned a lot of lessons that I want to share today.
Worrying about your finances is perfectly normal for students and one where having a full savings account, wealthy parents, or another source of capital would certainly come in handy. Starting out on your own can still be done with a small capital, no matter what your financial situation looks like.
For instance, the government offers grants for larger ventures, including grants from the central government, regional development agencies, and the EU. Your status as a student might exclude you from those bursaries so be sure to thoroughly research your eligibility status when it comes to grants!
Universities may also offer grants as well, in order to support young entrepreneurs. Contact your dean of students or student union representative for more details.
Another way of funding your start up business is through crowdfunding, where an online network of individuals pools their resources. This increasingly important source of start-up capital could definitely help you out. Websites like Kickstarter, Rock the Post and RocketHub have exploded in popularity in recent years, many of which offering stories of success from using these sites. Being a student gives you an advantage over most other entrepreneurs using crowdfunding – you’re able to meet thousands of potential investors face to face. It can be a risky start, as no one person is investing any more than they feel comfortable with. But crucially, they are still investing, which makes them more likely to use your product, so the crowdfunding model has the potential to give you an immediate, loyal customer base.
A required skill will be managing your time wisely during this start-up period. There won’t be time to be lazy and unproductive. Once you start your own business, you’ll be spending more time focusing on deadlines and work-related obligations and less time on partying. You won’t have all the time in the world to work on business plans and budgets so remember your time will be limited. Learn to maximize it.
If you are studying business, or your business idea is closely related to what you’re studying, discuss your plan with your tutor: it may be possible to include aspects of what you’re doing into your course load.
Another factor is the people you will come up against, who don’t believe in you or your idea during the beginning stages of your business. Straight on: accept it! It won’t mean that you will fail, and it does not mean that you are wasting time! Your business is still your baby and it may be hard to accept those statements directed at it, but use it as a constructive feedback to better improve your business. One other key skill you need to have to run a successful business is leadership, and a good leader accepts that she or he can – and will – be wrong. Surround yourself with people you can trust to give you an honest opinion, and be patient with those you choose to work with.
Last but not least – accept that your business idea could be a complete failure. It doesn’t automatically mean the end of your glorious entrepreneur life. Failure is an important factor to great success. ‘Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up again!’ This famous quote from the movie Batman Begins describes it perfectly – starting a business is always a huge undertaking, regardless of the size of your venture. That you’re giving it your all and trying your best is a credit to yourself and the skills you will learn will be invaluable in years to come.
Remember to listen, be open and patient with those you’re working with. But above all – enjoy it!
Daniel Smulevich studied Marketing Management at university but always had a passion for entrepreneurship and business in general. He now works for Franchise Sales, where he helps people find the best sports franchise for their needs.