Welcome to the first in a series of posts about starting a business in college.
Let me guess: you have tried working several different jobs. You have even tried switching industries to see if that help. For some strange reason, however, nothing seems to make you happy. No matter the job or the experience, what you know for sure is that you hate having a boss. You aren’t just being lazy (which is another big reason people dislike their jobs, and is a completely different matter), because you do have passions. There are things you are willing to work for and things that you love doing all the time.
This isn’t a bad thing. Assuming you’re not just being lazy, what this means is that you aren’t content with being a career conformist. Rather, you dream bigger. So let’s take that dream and turn it into something real.
Decide Your Path
What do you want to do? If you are struggling with this, find something you are naturally good at or could do for hours on end without ever getting tired of it. Somebody once told me “Whatever you do when you have nothing to do, that’s what your future career is.” For example, if I have a passion for filmmaking, so whenever I have a free weekend or any time at all, I’m writing, prepping, and shooting little movies with my friends, then it’s possible that this is a good option for me to pursue.
There are 2 very important things to consider before you finalize your decision:
1. Is there a market for it?
If you have a passion for something odd or not super popular, you may need to do a little more critical thinking to arrive at exactly what you can do to make your product sellable. If you don’t know who you’re selling to, chances are they won’t know who you are either.
2. Am I any good at it?
There are a lot of things we romanticize in our minds. We’d like to think that we are naturally gifted in a certain area where we actually are not. You might have one or two of these things on your list of “likes,” and if you think about it enough, you can probably figure out for yourself if it’s a romanticized notion, or something you truly have a knack for. You must find something that you are already good at, or are capable of getting there with some more education and experience. Here’s a hint: If the thought of learning about a particular topic drives you mad, then that’s probably not the career for you. In order to love the job, you must love learning about it as well. It has to be something that can consume you. It isn’t something that takes work to love, but rather takes extra effort to stop doing so you can go be a normal person once in awhile.
Do it for the right reasons
Starting a business requires a significant amount of self-exploration, honesty, and endurance. If you don’t start out on the right foot, you could be working towards a goal that never was realistic to begin with. If it’s something you can market, that’s great. But if you’re going to hate it in six months, where will your motivation come from? And trust me when I say this: money is a fleeting thing. If you are trying to get something going purely because “it will get you rich,” if you hate it, no amount of money will keep you doing it forever. At some point you will realize that being miserable every single day of your life isn’t worth the paycheck. Your bad idea and your reliance on your money will be your new boss, and we all know how much you hate bosses.
Research companies/people/organizations similar to what you want to do. See who is doing what, and who is being successful at it. You won’t be able to copy their models exactly. Starting a business in college is a completely unique world, so you almost always have to carve your own path.
Keep a notepad with you and write down the concepts that you like and any inspiration that comes to you about your own company.
Start building a concept of exactly what you want your company to be in every regard. Be as specific as you can be, but be open to change. Remember, this is your ball of clay, and you get to shape it and re-shape it to your heart’s content.
Jot down some notes about others and about yourself. Think about it all the time.
Finally, believe you can do it. You will be your biggest enemy during this process. If you begin to blame circumstance, status, or other people for your failures, then none of them will be what propels you to success. Edison made a few bad bulbs before he got electricity just right, so don’t worry. Be persistant and don’t let your friends or family or anyone tell you it’s not possible. It’s only not possible if you keep yourself from believing you are smart enough to do it.