If you look up to entrepreneurs who started their businesses while still in college, you might feel impatient about the time and money you’re spending on classes. In fact, a college education remains a good investment. People with a degree have higher salaries on average than people without degrees, and the access to networks and knowledge even as an undergraduate can serve you well throughout your life. Best of all, if you’re really impatient, there’s no reason you can’t start your business while you’re still in college. These tips can help you juggle school and work and make the most of your situation.
Manage Your Finances
You don’t necessarily need a lot of money to launch your business, but you do need to keep a close eye on it. This means budgeting and knowing just how much money you’ll need for school. A FAFSA calculator can tell you how much federal aid you are eligible for, and with this information, you’ll know how much you need in private student loans to make up the difference. You may need someone to cosign on your private loans.
Take Relevant Classes
Take classes that are relevant to your business goals. Talk to other students and find out which professors have students do hands-on projects that could be useful for you. For example, you might be able to look at marketing research or strategy used by competitors and find out what your fellow students think about your own product or services. You can ask these as hypothetical questions during class or group work. Try to take a class in entrepreneurship that allows you to develop your idea.
Use Campus Resources
From the knowledge and experience of your professors to access to talks, business journals and books to student software discounts, there are many resources available to you when you are in college. Be sure to take advantage of them. You should also join any relevant professional organizations and network as much as possible. Your school might offer connections with alumni or set you up with a mentor. You may be able to use conference rooms on campus for meetings. If your campus has a writing center, you might be able to get help developing some of your promotional and other written material.
Getting a business off the ground without neglecting your studies can be exhausting. You’ll need to learn to schedule your time carefully and to say no. This can mean turning down some social events, but don’t cut out all the fun. Not only can informal social situations still be a way to network, but you’ll burn out if you try to work all the time. You may be young and have as much energy as you ever will in your life, but you still can’t burn the candle at both ends indefinitely. Knowing your priorities can also help. For example, you may want to give yourself permission to step back from building the business at certain times to focus on particularly challenging stretches at school.