In addition to earning a degree, there is an entrepreneurial portion of the Cal State Fullerton student population that makes starting a business part of their undergrad experience. If being your own boss is one of your goals, Just Business offers tips for starting a business during college:
Get Realistic About Your Finances
Money is a significant factor in starting and scaling a business, but it should not be a limitation. If you have even a small sum to spare, it could be enough to get you started, and you can always reach out to investors later on when you begin to scale. Try to self-fund whenever possible to minimize debt.
With classes, extracurriculars and work, it can be difficult to find a spare few minutes during the day. Instead of watching Netflix or scrolling through social media, dedicate that time to your business: Even 15 minutes can make a difference. It is important to put your education first, so focusing on maintaining rather than growing the business can give more flexibility in your schedule. Your business should be something you are passionate about, so working on it does not seem like a chore but rather an enjoyable project.
Combine Your School Life and Business
Courses may be applicable to tasks in your business. For example, a marketing course assignment on Canva could turn into a post on your business Instagram. This also allows for feedback from professors to make the best possible products for your project in the future. Financial courses may help to get your finances straight and understand the funding aspect of your business.
Ask for Help
You may think you can do everything yourself, but it gets more complicated as the business evolves. Understanding when to bring in help and where to turn when you start having questions is important to growth. Everyone has a different skillset, and a team of diverse individuals can make a big difference.
Travis Lindsay, Cal State Fullerton adjunct professor of entrepreneurship, suggests finding people you have worked with in the past, getting a freelancer for specific needs or searching for others with similar passions. To find a team, “you need to just get started making connections and be open about what you are working on,” Lindsay says. “You don’t need to explain every last bit of information about your idea when you first meet someone, but you have to get that process started.”
Deadlines that are too tight or goals that are way too ambitious with time constraints are destined to fail. Continuing to understand your limitations and setting realistic goals are more beneficial in the long run, especially as a student. You still have your classes to pass and other commitments to attend to, so give yourself flexibility.
Know Your Worth
No matter your age or experience, if you have results to back up your skillset, you have more value. When pricing your services or product, it is important to keep those elements in mind as you may be undervaluing them, which could lead to profit loss. Be confident in what you bring to the table and the success will follow.
Take Advantage of School Resources
The Center for Entrepreneurship offers many resources for students. During the center’s Titan Fast Pitch competition, students pitch their business idea to a panel of judges to get feedback and real-world pitch experience. Students also have access to entrepreneurial mentors who can offer valuable insight.
CSUF’s Startup Incubator offers students “six months of one-on-one coaching by one of our experienced mentors, one of our student consulting projects to help them develop a go-to-market strategy, and advisement from CSUF Startup Incubator staff,” says Lindsay.
For college students, the added stresses of other commitments make creating a startup difficult, but not impossible. To be successful as an entrepreneur, says Lindsay, you should also “be the person in the room who has the most curiosity.”
For more information about the Center for Entrepreneurship, click here.