If you haven’t yet caught part 1 of this series, you can find it
Starting a Business in College
Today we’re going to move past thoughts and dreams and start getting into action. If you’ve found something you believe is marketable and is also something you could do for the next 30 years or so without going crazy or losing interest, then you are ready to move on. If you haven’t found those things, it might be a little more difficult to move on without them.
Ideas to Start a New Business
Now that you’ve got working ideas to start a business, you’ll need to develop a real concept. If you are serious about becoming an entrepreneur, consider taking a few business, design, and marketing classes. All of those will help you turn your idea into a reality. Apply the concepts you learn to your real idea, not just some hypothetical.
Developing a concept requires a significant amount of work, and a great amount of attention to detail. You need to know your business as though it were your best friend, a living, breathing entity you know everything about. Think about these questions to get you started:
What is your company philosophy?
A concise summary of who you are and why you do what you do will help keep your company grounded, regardless of success or failure.
What are the rules you will never break?
There are aspects of every industry that are never as popular as others, yet some people will do whatever, especially when money is tight. Decide now that you’ll never be the type of company that does “this thing” or “that thing.” This will reinforce and be reinforced by your philosophy.
How far can we stretch?
Do you want to specialize in one specific thing, or do you want to be the all-in-one that can be convenient for many clients? Remember, the more you stretch, the lower your average expertise in each area. For example, if your skill set for what you do equals 100, and you focus on just one thing, you get to input 100 into one thing and therefore get 100% of that out. If you decide you want to do 10 different things, you may spread yourself too thin and only get 10% output because you could only afford a 10% input. For a company started by an already busy college student, I recommend starting as simply as possible. As you grow, you can add more personnel to your staff with the ability to make your 100 turn into 500, 600, and more.
What hardware do I need?
You can’t bake without an oven. You can’t draw without a pencil. You will have to list out the essential things you’ll need to get started. Make sure that you keep your thinking to the beginnings of your company. Start with the bare essentials. Don’t spend more than you have to until the success of your business demands or allows for more investing. If you assume you are going to make a ton of money quickly and buy a bunch of extra hardware, you may have just lost out on a lot of cash.
What software do I need?
If your business doesn’t use a computer, then I might have a hard time believing that it’s a strong enough idea to invest in. Everything is run by some sort of software these days. Figure out what you need and create a list.
What is our name?
This might seem unimportant, but the sooner you decide on a name, the sooner you’ll be able to begin establishing an identity for your company. You’ve got to give your target market something to visually recognize you. A name and a logo will be essential to that. We’ll cover this more in a future post.
How will we market ourselves?
We’ll go over this more in depth in our next post, but think about the benefits of social media on your brand and how you’d like to implement social media into your company’s strategy. You’ll want to be extra careful with print media, because it’s a finite amount of attention. Online efforts are “easier” because you don’t have to worry about physical paper. While there are many other concerns, the biggest concern you will have with print media is that sooner or later you are going to run out of supplies, and then you’re going to have to spend more money to keep it going. If you include print media into your campaign, you’ll want to be extra deliberate in how you distribute it. In order to grasp the importance of this point, think about the companies you see advertised on TV, the internet, and in print media. Which ones do you like, respect, or forget about? Chances are you remember and like the ones who are visually established and well-marketed. You could offer free gold bars to the world, but if you don’t market yourself well, nobody will believe you, like you, or even know you exist. Again, there is so much here. We’ll cover it in its own section soon.
How will we pay for all this stuff?
For now, just start cutting back your personal expenses on things you don’t need. Start saving a small percentage of your income and keep it somewhere safe.