College is a great time to have a great time. Living on your own, meeting new people and learning about yourself while getting a formal education may seem like a lot to accomplish at once, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t also accomplish other things as you learn.
It may seem surprising, but college is a great time to start a business – something a small but significant percentage (4%) of graduating master’s degree-level students reported in the 2014 Global Management Education Graduate Survey Report by the Graduate Management Admission Council. Half are self-employed and the remainder plan to be entrepreneurs.
Of the self-employed students, 54% entered their grad school programs as entrepreneurs, while 46% began their businesses while enrolled. The main industries they worked on were products and services, followed by consulting.
Joining the 4% of graduate students who have started businesses could be just the move to kick start your career. What follows is a look at why college is a great time to start a business.
Resources and Support Systems are All Around You
Think about the expertise professors have to offer. Though they will be focused on teaching you, they can also be valued consultants. Many colleges offer business competitions, which serve as another valuable source of advice.
Then there’s the software and tools that universities provide. These advanced applications and expensive high-tech equipment, such as three-dimensional printers and film-editing bays, can be a major asset. Even if you can only use them for school work, learning how to master these tools can benefit your business.
And there’s a whole student body to offer support, provide cheap (or free) labor and serve as a test market. Because college students are so adapt at social media, they can help spread the word about your product or service.
Money May Be Available
There are plenty of organizations to help out student entrepreneurs. Check out the Student Entrepreneur Award, the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) and the UPS College Entrepreneur Contest or research the multitude of other business funding options and contests.
Be sure to check with your own college to see if they offer any business-related awards or scholarships. They may have other business resources available as well, so ask for help and see what is out there.
Networking Opportunities Abound
Faculty, students and alumni all can become valuable portions of your network. Campus events can be a fruitful source of contacts and information, too. Creating a business requires getting the word out there, so networking is a major asset for entrepreneurs.
College is the Rare Chance to be Totally Focused on You
After graduation, you’ll be facing all sorts of commitments, so take those risks while you still have the chance. With the resources at your disposal, you can focus on building up your business while you get your degree. There may not be another window in your life with as many of the business stars aligning.
You Have the Free Time
Students are busy, for sure. But for many people, the older you get, the busier you get. College students are often talented at maintaining busy schedules. Students also have unique control over their availability.
Not only do you have summer and winter break, but you have the ability to almost completely control your schedule, something generally impossible once in the workforce. Starting a business might mean reducing your social calendar, but it’s all manageable.
It’s OK to Fail
“I like to think of our college years as life’s greatest do-over period. It’s okay to make mistakes. In fact, failing at anything means you’re trying,” Jessica Ekstrom, who founded a headband business in college, wrote in Entrepreneur. “When things don’t go as planned (which is very frequent) it’s called an experience. Experiences are carried with you the rest of your life, giving you more insight to the world around you.”
Even if the business fails and you end up working for an existing company, recruiters look for people with an entrepreneurial bent. There is no such thing as failure when you have learned something from it.