If provided with proper industry insights, college students are closer than anybody else to solving one of the most difficult puzzles of the current era – successful entrepreneurship. While it is important to have an idea, passion, and commitment to start a business, there are more hurdles, hardships, and unfavorable situations than one can think of. The good news, however, is it is always possible and exciting for would-be founders to give wings to their entrepreneurial ambitions.
If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, you can start building your business even when you are a student. Some people spread the notion that you can either start a business now or go to college. It is not the case. In fact, for budding entrepreneurs, college education throws an opportunity to learn real-world skills, while at the same time building a network of like-minded, well-read people.
In view of this, many universities are playing a critical role by providing students with opportunities to show their entrepreneurial skills. They are even helping them in terms of funding and investment. In recent years, due to collaboration between corporate and college managements, there are powerful accelerator programs, which are giving opportunities to students to flex their entrepreneurial muscles.
Here is how you can kick-start a successful entrepreneurial journey:
1. Recognize Your Niche
One of the most effective ways of determining your niche business opportunity is to search for unmet needs in the market. Once you recognize or come across such a unique need, you should brainstorm about how to plug that hole before anyone notices that. The fact is innovations behind new products or services always arise out unmet needs. So how will you do that? It’s simple but time taking and needs some number crunching. Conduct a survey on any group of people. They could be friends, neighbors, relatives, social media friends, passersby, etc. Now ask them highly pertinent questions like what bugs them in their personal and professional lives. What is the reason behind wasting too much time or money? What frustrates them? So on and so forth. After talking to them and recording their responses, ask them whether there is a better method, product, or service that would solve their problem. There you go! You are on the verge of determining your true niche.
2. Quantify the Effectiveness of Your Idea in the Future
After finding the really specific issue that people are going through, you have to develop an idea around how the problem can be eliminated or addressed. Look ahead and try to see the future even though you are looking at the present. Finding your brilliant idea is more about observation and innovation. You should do thorough industry research and seek out inspiration in a much wider landscape. Attend various industry events, investment conferences, and visit venture capitalist and angel investor websites. Read world-renowned business publications like VentureBeat, TechCrunch, The Wall Street Journal’s Entrepreneurship Section, and PwC reports regarding industry trends. Get in touch with recently successful entrepreneurs, and ingest their ideas while perceiving things differently. When sailing through your ideas and crystallizing a few possible prospects, don’t forget to hone a unique selling point.
3. Create a Strong Business Plan
A powerful business plan should factor in every element important in successfully running a company. If an idea attracts investors, a strong business plan provides a structure needed to get financial support from them. It involves effectively outlining your idea as to how business will operate, communicating your vision, and bringing everyone on the same page. A well-prepared business plan shows that you have deeply thought through the idea and are ready to weigh your chances. It should be crystal clear and provide a roadmap for your company; otherwise, the latter could lack a proper direction and structure. You should be honest with yourself in your business plan, which is why it’s important to consider challenges and opportunities. It is a good idea to be creative in making your business plan so you stand out and grab investors’ attention. Lay out capital and expense requirements in unequivocal terms, and, if required, present your business plan to people who can lend you capital; an example of such an arrangement is using student loans to overcome capital requirements and barriers as well as boosting credit score and history. With that being said, to minimize long-term financial impact and cost, it can be beneficial to consolidate or refinance those loans later on. This may seem like a complicated approach, but since it can be difficult for a student to procure funding, it is used more often than not when money is needed. Source: CometFi.
4. Block the Naysayers
To become successful, it is important to keep an arm’s length from negativity, for it could drain away your energy and enthusiasm. Just block people who doubt your intentions and try to pull you back. It is natural that you will hear a lot of Nos, Ifs, and Buts but you need to keep going because you know best, not them. You should, rather, make sure to surround yourself with positive people. The truth is listening to negative people ranting and rambling about the horrors of their life can cause you to feel depressed. Remember, your time is extremely valuable and you need only inspiring and successful figures to look up to instead of those who whine and crib about failures. Even if you are failing in any of your attempts, just try to learn from your mistakes, for nobody is perfect. Apple Inc. was on the verge of becoming bankrupt and disappearing, but Steve Jobs didn’t give up and made it one of the most successful business entities.
5. Learn to Market Yourself
Now, this very skill requires a lot of practice, natural tendency, and support. To begin with, don’t try to just sell, try to show and educate people at every turn. People only buy when they learn how well your product or service will help them. Also, a powerful way of selling yourself is through media attention. If people were to see you everywhere, you might very well start receiving calls from potential clients and customers. You might get an opportunity to collaborate with influencers. Social media can help you very strongly in this regard, which is why you need to be active on different social media channels by telling your version of your story.
If opportunities and proper expertise are provided to college students, they can successfully chase their entrepreneurial dreams. Most of Silicon Valley is established by fresh entrepreneurs with even fresher ideas. Just believe in your abilities, be brutally honest with yourself, effectively execute your strategies, and have a positive approach.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.