College is primarily a place to boost your academic credentials, meet new people and open your eyes and mind to new possibilities. Nonetheless, what you do outside of class is as equally important as your grades and credits.
With constantly increasing tuition costs and the need to have fun every weekend, most college students find it necessary to get jobs or small businesses to complement their allowances.
However, majority shy away from entrepreneurial initiatives due to the presumed high amounts of capital required. While some businesses require significant capital outlay, others want very little to no capital.
Having access to countless resources, college students can become self-reliant and create employment too. Below are some nine tips for starting a business on a shoestring budget:
1. Identify Available Gaps
Business is all about filling gaps in supply or affordability of goods or services.
These gaps exist even in the confines of colleges and student hostels. Limited printing and photocopying facilities, and the need for laundry services are just some of the openings that exist in most college environments.
Assuming that you want to start a profitable, sustainable business, you need to carry out research involving face-to-face conversations with your fellow students on the things that they find hard to get in college.
List them down with the most common problems or gaps at the top.
2. Find the Most Profitable Solutions
After having an idea of the available business opportunities, the next thing that you should do is analyze them to determine suitability.
The suitability of any investment idea will depend on the risks involved, potential profits and, of course, your financial resources.
In addition to these, consider the required skills and competencies in each option and whether you possess them. You would be wasting time and scarce finances starting a business that you’d barely be able to manage or control.
Lastly, consider your school schedules and if or how they will affect your entrepreneurial endeavors. This is especially important to online paper writers, as most of them have to work late nights or early mornings.
3. Get a Mentor
The path to the unknown is always easier to navigate when following someone else’s footsteps.
Before starting your initiative, get some advice or support from someone in the same or the similar business.
They know what it’s like and depending on who you ask, will share some golden information on how they made it and the challenges that they faced.
If possible, ask to visit their businesses and prepare some questions beforehand, answers to which will add to your knowledge bank.
4. Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket
The success rates among startups are very minimal, with about 9 out of every 10 startups going down in less than a year.
While your feelings (and hopes) might get hurt a little by that, it should serve as both a warning and a basis for planning.
No matter the nature of the opportunity or the possibilities of large profits, do not invest all your savings in it. Chances are it will not end well if you do.
5. Have Reasonable Profit Estimates
Forget what you’ve heard on the Internet or from your mentors, do not expect major returns on your first venture.
Keep your projections at a reasonable and achievable level, and dedicate effort towards attaining that.
You may be young and ambitious but being delusional at the start of your entrepreneurial career will only derail you in the long run.
6. Keep the Costs Low
Do you know what happens when your heart stops beating?
Now, cash flow is the heartbeat of every business. It’s basically what your business survives on as you wait for debtors to pay.
While we don’t advise selling on credit until your business is stable, we fully understand that sometimes it’s inevitable. And that’s why we suggest keeping your business costs as low as you can, to ensure that your cash reserves will never be depleted.
Overhead costs, labor costs, and personal expenses are some of the things that will have you subconsciously dipping into your cash or savings jars, creating a potential disaster.
7. Seek to Establish Contacts
Before you ignite your startup, try to develop contacts with stakeholders in the particular line of business.
Suppliers, industry analysts, and even clients are essential to your growth as an entrepreneur.
Firstly, they can be a source of information on new trends and opportunities. Secondly, they know a thing or two about how the business works and therefore their advice would be useful.
As your hustle picks up, you will find that knowing who to call for what will make your work easier and might even help you get major discounts.
8. Rent Instead of Buying
As a startup, you probably won’t have enough money to buy most of the equipment that you need.
Most people would borrow from friends or family and in case of a good credit score, from a bank. That’s highly risky as your business could collapse, leaving you with messed up finances.
The best idea is to rent or hire equipment to get your business off the ground.
It is cheaper and saves you on maintenance costs depending on the terms of engagement.
9. Have a Cushion
Entrepreneurship is not all rosy – there are a lot of false starts, pitfalls, and heartbreaks involved.
As such, we suggest that you have some sort of arrangement to cushion yourself and your money in case of unforeseen losses.
This can be anything from saving a part of your profits in a fixed deposit account to taking insurance cover for equipment.
Whatever you do, make sure that you’ll have at least some investment back in case of business failure.
Entrepreneurship is a process, a way of life even, and it’s open to everyone with a focused mind, limited resources notwithstanding. For college students, it’s even more important to attain self-employment while still in college than spending months looking for a job when you graduate.
Have you tried starting a business? What were your experiences? If you haven’t yet, what are your fears? Let us know in the comments.
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