9 Top Tips For Student Entrepreneurs

November is National Entrepreneurship Month. This is a time to both celebrate and embrace the entrepreneurial spirit complete with all it’s glorious tenacity and persistence.

Do you have the entrepreneurial spirit? Are you passionate about change, innovation, and growth? Do you see opportunities and solutions where others see obstacles and problems?

Yes? Then you’re in the right place. The United States ranks #1 in the list of 137 countries for cultivating entrepreneurship, according to the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute and approximately 51.6 of successful small businesses were started right out of someone’s home or garage.

So let’s talk about setting you up for success as a student entrepreneur!

  1. Find Your Tribe

    A tribe is a group of people that share a common goal, path, or experience. They are a support network just like your IRL friends and family.  It’s no secret that the path to entrepreneurship is full of hard work, unexpected emotional shifts, and moments of utter confusion. In fact, it’s often referred to as a roller-coaster. You’ll need the support of your tribe to ride it out. Your tribe will offer you much more than emotional support when things go wrong, they’ll provide you with ideas and advice born from experience, and a sense of teamwork and camaraderie that can sometimes be hard to find as an entrepreneur. Just as you'll need to find the right fit in a college, you'll also need to find the right tribe. 

  2. Get In Alignment

    You’ve likely heard it said, “Begin with the end in mind”, but when it comes to drafting the plan for your journey into entrepreneurship it’s doubly important. Start thinking right now on what classes you can take that will complement, equip, and prepare you to step into launching. If you start to view each decision you make in your present life through the lens of how to propel yourself forward, you will avoid mistakes and unnecessary backtracking.

  3. Take Advantage Of Your School & Local Resources

    Most colleges and universities have an entrepreneurship center on campus. These centers are a treasure trove of information and opportunity. Many include mentorship programs, assistance with applying for grants, specialized networking events, and business incubators. Also consider small business resources such as your Chamber of Commerce, the local chapter of the SBA, and BNI groups. Other often overlooked or untapped resources for student entrepreneurs include leveraging the power of positive association with key professors and applying for internships in local startups or other companies in your industry.
  4. Learn To Manage Your Time

    Effective time management is a skill that will serve you all your life, as a student entrepreneur, however, it’s absolutely critical. You’re going to be busy! Studying and building an empire is a delicate balancing act and the more organized and disciplined you are with your schedule the greater your chances for success. Consider time blocking or the Pomodoro method to increase your productivity and help you get a handle on your daily to-do’s.

  5. Network Like Crazy

    It’s never too soon to start making connections! Attend local networking events, connect with other small business owners, consider a mentorship through SCORE.  You never know where that next lead may come from and networking has consistently proven to be one of the best marketing strategies. Again, don’t forget to leverage the power of your professors here. College professors are generally well respected and well connected in their communities and most are happy to help a student entrepreneur further his or her career.

  6. Do Your Research

    Begin your market research by answering these questions:

    • What need will your product or service fill? What problem will you solve?
    • Does a similar product or service already exist? At what price point? What makes yours different or better?
    • Who will purchase your product or service and how much are they willing to pay?

    Now that you’ve sketched out these details, validate your idea. Study your target market. Find out where they hang out and what their pain points are; then adjust your plans according to the data you’ve collected.

  7. Think Outside The Box When It Comes To Funding

    While most entrepreneurial endeavors are self-funded, as a student entrepreneur you’re already juggling a lot and it may be more difficult to come up with seed money. Consider these alternatives:

    • Angel Investors: a person of affluence that willingly invests capital into a venture in exchange for ownership equity.
    • Crowdfunding: enlisting small amounts of capital from a large number of investors. Two very popular options are Kickstarter & Indiegogo.
    • Grants: grants are offered by large private companies, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Here is a list of over 100 Small Business Grants available.
    • Personal loans: bank loans that are based on your personal credit and income instead of the longevity or stability of your business.
  8. Leverage Your Status As A Student

    People are often surprised and impressed by student entrepreneurs. Society is eager to support your success.  Entire organizations have been formed for the purpose of helping young entrepreneurs launch their business ideas.  Take advantage of this opportunity now, while you are still in college, and you will come out leagues ahead of the competition. You're working hard now to get accepted to the college of your dreams, make sure you leverage all that hard work by using your time and connections in college to set you up for success as an entrepreneur. 
  9. Don’t Fear Failure

    We all make mistakes. You’re going to fail at some point, but if learn to view your failures as mere lessons you’ll recover faster and build a stronger business. The ability to reframe your mistakes and failures as steps taking you closer and closer to your eventual success is an art, but once mastered nothing will be able to stop you. Remember; the fear of failure kills more dreams than actual failure.

    These 9 tips are the recipe for achieving your dreams as a student entrepreneur.  You are already carefully planning out your academic career, now it's time to apply that same diligence to the planning of your entrepreneurial journey. In the end, you may just find that they were always one in the same.