From tech giants to smaller companies, many of the world’s most successful businesses were launched by student entrepreneurs.
With technology allowing anyone to reach an audience of millions of potential customers, there has never been a better time to take entrepreneurship seriously as a student and start building what could grow into the next big business.
Entrepreneurship can be a rough road, with numerous obstacles to overcome and challenges to face. Below, we’ve shared four tips for would-be student entrepreneurs interested in launching a business while in university.
Look to E-Commerce First
Over the last two decades, e-commerce has grown from a small niche into an incredibly widely used platform for retail shopping. In fact, data suggests that there will be more than two billion global digital buyers by the end of 2020 — a huge audience of potential customers.
As a student entrepreneur, starting an e-commerce business offers several advantages when compared to conventional, brick-and-mortar business.
The first is the relatively low cost of starting a business. While a physical retail store requires a significant investment in inventory, store fit-out and an ongoing investment in rent, e-commerce businesses can be launched extremely cheaply.
The second is the ability to scale. While a local business largely serves its area, an e-commerce business can be truly global, reaching customers in numerous countries and selling products in a variety of languages.
These advantages all make e-commerce a good first type of business for students, especially when capital is limited.
Start Small, Then Focus on Growth
As a student, it’s normal for your finances to be somewhat light. This means that many of the most viable businesses — especially those that require significant investment capital — can be inaccessible.
Make things work by starting small and focusing on growth rather than scale. Many businesses can be launched for just a few hundred pounds, giving you the ability to test the waters cheaply before committing more capital to your business idea.
When you think up a business idea, make the financial side the first aspect of the business you think about. If something’s too expensive to make work right now, don’t write it off completely — instead, file it in the “future” category and come back to it when you’re in a different position.
Do Things That Don’t Scale
As famous technology investor Paul Graham recommends, do things that don’t scale to get your business off the ground.
As a small business, your ability to spend cash on large-scale advertising campaigns and other “essentials” is limited. This can seem like a large disadvantage, but it’s often a major advantage when you view business growth with the right mindset.
Rather than just being poor, your small business is only poor when it comes to finances — time, on the other hand, is a resource that you have in significantly larger quantities than your larger, better-funded competitors.
Because of this, it’s best to focus on growth by doing things that don’t scale, whether this means going door-to-door to meet your potential customers manually, sending letters, calling people on the phone or using other traditional, “old-fashioned” sales tactics to grow.
Take Your Business Studies Seriously
Finally, although it can be tempting to treat your business as your first priority and your studies second, it’s important to stay focused on your degree while you spend your spare time building your business.
If you’re determined to become an entrepreneur but aren’t yet sure what to study, it’s important to consider a business course. You can search for business courses online to see what they’ve got to offer — for many, it’s a comprehensive, well-rounded business education.
Studying business not only gives you the knowledge and mental tools you’ll need to make your business grow — it also introduces you to mentors and peers who can help you move forward in life and make effective decisions.