Entrepreneurs who start their own companies while completing their undergraduate studies are part of a unique group of business owners. If you’re a college student looking to turn your dream of business ownership into reality, you’re in a good position to start; you’re likely already eating Ramen noodles and getting less than six hours of sleep each night, and you can better endure the risks involved with potential failure, since there’s no mortgage or kids to take care of right now. These three tips will help you get started:
Census Bureau data indicates that 75 percent of all U.S. companies are nonemployer firms, or ones with no paid employees, and the online publication Small Business Trends places the number at nearly 80 percent. Owners of these companies have to wear several hats to make everything function properly. There is no better place than a college campus to learn everything you need to know about day-to-day business operations.
Virtually every college degrees requires students to take elective courses that aren’t necessarily related to their major. Use this opportunity to take accounting, tax law and business administration courses. Several colleges offer entrepreneurship programs that not only offer courses specific to business ownership, but even cash prizes for the best students. The Princeton Review’s 2014 list of top entrepreneurial programs in the country places Babson College number one, followed by the University of Houston, Baylor, BYU and the University of Oklahoma.
Competitive students with a little capital and lot of ambition can enlist in a business incubator while in school. There are more than 2,100 incubator programs in the world, with one-third of them located on college campuses, according to the National Business Incubation Association. Most of these programs are located on techie campuses like Stanford and MIT, but schools like Duke and Syracuse, known more for their medical and law schools, are also joining the incubator phenomenon.
Bloomberg Businessweek listed four common reasons young people give for not starting their own business. Lack of experience and interest encompassed three of them. But startup capital always has and always will be the biggest hurdle small business owners face when pursuing their dreams. College students can take advantage of several funding options that are only available to them.
Virtually any student enrolled at least half time (taking six credit hours or more) at participating colleges is eligible for student loans. There are no financial need requirements, and the payback period does not start until six months after leaving school. Dependent freshman students (those who are still claimed by their parents for tax purposes) can borrow up to $5,500 in year one. Independent students can take out $9,500 in both subsidized and unsubsidized loans as freshmen.
Students who are receiving annuity or structured settlement payments can consider selling their future payments to a company like J.G. Wentworth for a lump of cash that can help fund their business. There are federal and state laws in place that protect consumers from predatory purchasers, and a judge will have to approve these deals.
A study by University of Calgary researchers found that upward of 95 percent of college students procrastinate when it comes to their coursework. Entrepreneurial students who fail to stay on top of their studies are also planning for their business endeavors to fail.
There is no magic solution for time management. But since most students already have smartphones, take advantage of some of the top time management apps available. IStudiez Pro was named the Best College Student App in 2011 by iTunes. It organizes your class and work schedules so you can see exactly what hour blocks are available for business, studying, recreation, and of course sleep. Studious and iProcrasinate are two more options to consider.
The experience of starting a business in college will be invaluable. Take advantage of the opportunities presented to you, and you can live your dream of owning a successful company.