College Entrepreneurship 101: Why you should launch a business while in college

Young entrepreneurs. (Credit: Sal Falko via Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)
Young entrepreneurs. (Credit: Sal Falko via Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

OKLAHOMA CITY, April 14, 2014 — Launching a business venture while you’re in college is no easy task. The last thing a college students thinks about is starting a business. Students are dealing with their studies, attending class and busy trying to find a job or internship at the last minute. Today’s students may not realize it, but they are entering a job economy that does not promise the forty-year career in a single company. Or even a rewarding position in their major field of study as opposed to washing dishes at the minimum wage for a late night shift.

But there is an alternative.

Getting involved or driving a business startup is a strenuous but rewarding process, because it builds confidence, creative thinking and selling skills, all of which are traits best learned outside the classroom. And it just might keep you out of that dingy, depressing commercial kitchen sink.

If a college student does decide to launch a business while in college, his or her decision should arise out of a passionate belief in a product or service as well as the possibility of turning the business into a full-scale business upon graduation. It’s important to stress the twin ingredients of passion and realism when making this kind of decision. Creating a real, viable business isn’t a game. There is nothing more depressing than observing individuals who attempt to launch a business only for the possibility that it might look good on their resumés.  What, really, is the point of creating a business that will not see the day of light after graduation? Such an effort won’t impress the business community, either.

With entrepreneurship studies on the rise across universities and colleges across the U.S.,  several of these have set themselves apart by establishing business plan competitions that allow students to pitch their new businesses and business plans to potential investors with the additional possibility of winning prize money to assist in launching that new business.

There is nothing more invigorating—or challenging—than gearing up to make a convincing presentation to pitch a group of seasoned investors and business owners. Aside from the rigor of making a winning presentation, students, even like seasoned entrepreneurs, must be ready to answer tough questions as their wealthy but skeptical audiences tears apart a presentation, giving students a taste of reality with regard to how a real-world business is launched and operated.

The opportunity to actually pitch a business plan to investors is as close to what TV reality show viewers encounter on a program like “Shark Tank.” Successfully navigating around the shoals and whirlpools of this treacherous environment can be a huge boost to young, would-be entrepreneurs as their confidence level starts to rise. And those selling skills come in handy as well.

If a college student decides to start a new business, it is important to establish one that has realistic market potential. Starting a business without knowing who the potential customer is or if he even exists is not much more than daydreaming.

A college student serious about launching a business should set up meetings early on with faculty members and business owners in and around the campus to get sound advice on the product or service his or her business plans to provide. Listening to others will help in the creative thinking process, while listening to words of wisdom from others who possess years of experience can be hugely beneficial. Attending events sponsored by the school of business or entrepreneurship can offer additional benefits to student entrepreneurs by providing guest speakers and business startup workshops. Both are a must when it comes to accessing invaluable, experienced, and free advice.

As we’ve already hinted, a key reason for starting a business—but one that’s often overlooked—is that a decent launch that results in a self-sustaining business will quickly put an end to that depressing but all-too-familiar pattern of mass-mailing resumés to solicit what are clearly standard, dead end, 9 to 5 jobs with no visible prospects for advancement.

Remember: Starting a new business builds confidence, re-fuels creative minds, and helps hone those all important selling skills. The alternatives in this still-struggling economy  are distinctly lacking in this appeal.

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