Starting a Business (or Startup) in College: Pros and Cons
There are many things you can do while you’re at college and much of it would be there on your resume and influence your future career. Many millennials have the ambition to start a business after leaving college or sometime later in the career. But there’s actually nothing stopping you from starting a business while still studying. Of course, there are both advantages and disadvantages of starting a business (or startup) in college.
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs of the past half-century were in their teens or twenties. Many, including Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), started their first businesses while still in college. The success of Microsoft, Apple, Facebook et al. inspired many youngsters to go down the entrepreneurship, and at times, by getting dropped out.
But, my personal suggestion is not to get dropped out. There are hundreds or maybe thousands of college-dropouts who didn’t make it big with their ventures. But, if you have got a great idea, want to learn new skills, and open up more career opportunities, starting a business while still in college could be a great idea. So, before taking a
Pros of Starting a Business in College
You Get A Head Start On Planning
If you wait until you leave college before starting to plan a new business and this is definitely the step you are going to take then you are already a little behind on your schedule. It should not be underestimated how much work goes into the planning stage of starting a new company.
You need to look at crafting a watertight business plan, take into account how much it will cost to set up, what your expected turnover and profit margins would be and how long it would take to recoup the start-up costs. You need to market research who your customers would be and how you would get them. If at least all of this work is done you can get going fairly quickly.
You Can Use College Resources
You should not underestimate how much you have in terms of access to resources in your college. You have advisors you can get access to for free, IT and printing resources and there are even plenty of grants and financial assistance available to student entrepreneurs.
Universities have a lot of counseling, mentorship, educational and funding resources for entrepreneurs. It should not be hard to find a professor or graduate student willing to provide feedback on your business plan, for instance.
You will find that in some colleges there are active programs to support start-up businesses and even premises available in some cases. There are so many costs, securing a trademark costs about $970 for example, so any saving should be welcomed.
Many top universities provide startup incubation facilities and funding. In the UK, there is also a Graduate Entrepreneur Visa (Tier 1) scheme. So, there are plenty of opportunities and support systems in place to start a business while studying. Of course, the key is to get into the right university.
Excellent Place to Find Collaborators (Co-Founders) and Customers
Your college has hundreds or thousands of potential collaborators and co-founders if you can inspire them to join you.
Secondly, your college’s student body is an ideal market to test and refine your products. Its close-knit social networks facilitate word-of-mouth marketing as well.
Great Opportunity to Apply the Learnings of the Curriculum
At times, classroom learning can be ephemeral, abstract and impractical. Students often complain that they will never be able to apply what they are learning in the “real world.”
Modules like such as Starting New Ventures, Venture Capital, Product Marketing, Big Data Analytics, Logistics & Supply Chain Management, and Entrepreneurial Finance could be very handy.
It Will Give You Something To Leave College To
Trying to find a job after college is definitely one of the biggest challenges of your life up until that point. But if you already had a business up and running then you have something set up and ready to go and that’s off your own back. It would be terribly impressive to have set this up and lessens the uncertainty of leaving college.
Even If It Doesn’t Work Out It’s Impressive On Your Resume
Of course, no-one wants to fail, but it’s not as bad as it sounds, many a successful business person has had a failed company or even more than one before going on to be a huge success. If you can highlight the positives and learn from your mistakes then it’s always going to be worthwhile to have on your resume as it shows a willingness to embrace a challenge.
Employers always look for motivated folks with leadership qualities and a go-getter attitude. Starting a business shows that you’re proactive, creative, and driven–just the type of employee successful companies are looking for. Having an entrepreneurial experience under your belt can do wonders for your future career opportunities.
Cons of Starting a Business in College
It Could Impact On Your Studies
You should consider the impact on your studies as well. As we said it would be a quite impressive feat to achieve balancing finishing college with starting up a business. So it’s vitally important that you don’t neglect to make sure you finish college as then you’ve got nothing to fall back on if the business doesn’t work out.
More often than not, as a student, you will have some debt (unless you are studying with a full scholarship along with a generous stipend). This debt adds an additional burden to the already daunting financial uncertainty of starting a business. So, you will be under pressure to pay off your debt as soon as possible after graduating.
It takes time to turn any business a profitable one. So, there is no guarantee of income during the initial years. So, this is a serious point to consider.
Passing on Other Opportunities (Social and Professional)
As a student, you will be devoting the majority of the time towards your classes, assignments, practicals, etc. Having a startup is not like a 9 – 5 stuff. Dedicating time and energy to a business venture is a job all its own. It takes willpower to start a business at any age, but starting your first enterprise while still in school is especially challenging.
So, you will have way less time to socialize and for relaxation. You will probably find yourself working overtime and doing every menial task that the company needs to be done at first.
Secondly, you might also bypass critical career opportunities like internships, research projects, or industrial training opportunities because of your business commitment. So, that means you miss out on a few key opportunities.
Investors Might Not Take You Seriously
It’s very likely that venture capital firms and angel investors would be skeptical due to your lack of experience.
You might not have a clear vision while at college. But, it’s worth experimenting and taking risks. But, do assess your business idea, personal commitments, financial scenario, and your study load (flexibility of the curriculum and support from your faculty members, peers & college/university). Prioritizing tasks will be the key.
Overall, having an entrepreneurial experience would be a great idea in terms of learning valuable skills, earning money, and standing out in the job market. However, no need to overburden yourself and take unnecessary risks. After all, there are many other ways to learn new skills through internships, research projects, volunteering, online courses; and you can also make money while studying in college/university.
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Author: Tanmoy Ray
I am a Career Adviser & MS Admission Consultant. Additionally, I also manage online marketing at Stoodnt. I did my Masters from the UK (Aston University) and have worked at the University of Oxford (UK), Utrecht University (Netherlands), University of New South Wales (Australia) and MeetUniversity (India).
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