Why College is the Perfect Time to Start a Business
Many people go to college to become good employees. The ironic truth is, college presents a phenomenal opportunity to start a business of your own. I attend a large public university and it’s hard not to notice the amazing opportunities in front of me. Here are the reasons that your college years are the perfect time to start a business.
Entrepreneurship is notoriously risky. Luckily, the typical college student has few crucial responsibilities: no family to support and no full time career to worry about. In other words, you have little to lose. If your first business fails and you end up with the net worth of a cashew nut, no problem! That’s probably how you started out.
The typical college student also has plenty of time ahead of him or herself. This has benefits in the case of success as well as failure. If you build a successful business, you will have plenty of time to expand it and leverage your resources and knowledge to build other successful businesses. Or, you could just cash out at 30 and retire.
On the other hand, in the event that your business flops, you have plenty of time to try again. You’ll only be smarter the next time.
Youth also means a fresher perspective than previous generations. You are more familiar with current technologies and what’s trendy. You aren’t as bound by traditional preconceptions of how things “should” be done.
Abundant, Inexpensive Labor
College students are known to be hard-strapped for cash. If you’re looking to hire inexpensive, decently skilled labor, college campuses are a great source. And if you’re attending the college you will know exactly where to advertise for your desired skill sets.
Access to Knowledge
I’m not sure how many hundreds of PhD professors are at my school, but it’s enough that I could find an expert on virtually any topic. Whether I wanted to learn about emerging scientific research or I wanted some help with a business plan, it wouldn’t be too hard to locate the right person. All major universities share this abundance of brilliant people. Although not all professors are sympathetic, many will be extremely helpful if they recognized that you are a student trying to do something extraordinary.
In addition to professors, students most likely have access to one if not many comprehensive libraries and online databases.
Access to Software
Chances are, if you’re starting a new business, you could benefit from the incredible capabilities of modern software. In the normal world, advanced applications range in price from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars. Luckily, universities provide an amazing array of software to their students. To drop some names, my school provides access to: AutoCAD (3D design), Final Cut Pro (film editing), Adobe Design Premium CS3 (graphic design), Maya (3D animation), Maple (mathematics), ERwin (data modeling), SQL Server (database management), Virtuoso Schematic Editor (internal circuitry), SolidWorks (3D design), and many more.
Access to Equipment
Large format printers, 3D printers, laser etchers, machine shops, film editing bays, film studios, camera equipment, computer labs, meeting rooms, scientific equipment, etc. Major universities offer serious equipment such as this to their students. Usually students in relevant degree programs get preference, but it is there nonetheless.
Many universities want their students to build businesses. I don’t know why. Perhaps for marketing or to encourage future multi-million dollar donations? Regardless, they will give grants for good business plans. From my observations this can amount to $5,000-$20,000 of free money.
When it comes to starting a business, college students have several unique advantages. Of course, there are other paths to success too. I don’t think anyone told these billionaire college dropouts about starting a business in college.