By Lyle Johnson
College is a time for education, inspiration and maybe a bit of partying. It’s also one of the prime times of your life to consider starting a business, as many students don’t have a great deal of financial responsibilities, either from parents footing the bill, or taking out loans. Sure, you’ll have to pay those loans back after you’re out of school.
At the same time, you don’t have the pressure and burden of finding a part-time job that can work around school hours to pay your bills. You’ll simply have time to create a business that might make you independently wealthy while you’re still studying. According to Small Biz Trends, the average amount of business financing given to new upstarts was $325,000. Avoid these financial pitfalls to set you on the right path to hitting it big, and make the best use of your financing.
Why Make a College Startup
Outside of the lessened responsibilities that typically come with being a college student, the real world experience you gain by starting a business is invaluable. If you’re worried about getting stuck in the need-experience-to-get-a-job, need-a-job-to-get-experience trap after graduating, running your own business can fill that gap. Even if you don’t make the next big company, you can at least get some supplemental income to start paying your student loans back early, or eat something other than ramen.
Financing Your Business With Personal Assets
While you might not have many personal assets as a college student, you will probably have to leverage your savings and any property to finance a new startup. It takes time to secure small business financing, especially as a student with few assets. Crowdsourced financing may help tap into your network to back a great idea. Small Business Administration loans and sites such as annuity.org may provide financing options that leverage other resources that may be available to you, which are some of the easier routes, as opposed to seeking out individual investors.
Create a Budget
You have to spend a lot of cash to get your business off the ground, especially if you’re dealing with physical inventory and locations. Create a strict business budget, and don’t be tempted to spend money on non-business expenses. Once you’re making a profit, you can indulge a bit, but not before you reach that point.
Once you have reached that magical point of getting out of the red with your business, the SBA recommends you pay yourself some sort of salary. That makes your business feel like a real, proper job, and it also gives you money separate from your business, so you don’t feel bad about spending it. It might take some time, even years, to get your business profitable, but every step of the way is valuable experience.
About the author: Lyle Johnson runs a small roofing business and studies marketing at his local community college. He writes about small business, marketing and how to leverage social media.