Congratulations to the class of 2017! As thousands of students graduate this month with their undergraduate and graduate degrees, the internet is collectively exploding with advice listicles on topics ranging from the best cities to find a job and how to create a post-college financial plan.
Right behind these seniors are three years’ worth of students who will be following in their graduation footsteps—in the near future, that is. Until then, startup owners like Kasper Kubica and Sarah Kauss argue that college is the best time to be an entrepreneur.
Universities offer up an abundance of resources to students, including startup competitions, advisors, and tech labs—it’s truly an incredible time for aspiring entrepreneurs! If you’re planning to be a post-grad small business owner, here’s what you can do now to get ahead on the entrepreneurial track.
1. Start making contacts
No matter which school you enroll in, keep the phrase “your tribe is your vibe” in mind.
Just like in life, it’s important to surround yourself with people who are as motivated and driven as you are. Evaluate the school environment, get a feel for the kinds of people who go there, and then, start connecting with them. Get to know fellow classmates in your classes and build relationships with them.
Also, take the time to expose yourself to new opportunities like extracurricular activities on campus and internships to further reach out to new contacts. The relationships you establish now will become ones you will carry with you for life, enabling you to create your own inner network of professionals that you’ll one day be able to call on for help.
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2. Build rapport with your professors
Just as much as you’re making the most of your time in school with your coursework and relationships with fellow classmates, you should also focus on establishing rapport with the faculty. Get to know your professors as much as possible. Pick their brains about questions you might have about marketing, product management, and finance. Remember to stay in touch after graduating, too. Keep them posted on your small business journey and stay connected via social media and networking platforms like LinkedIn.
3. Draft a business plan
A business plan is often considered to be one of the most daunting documents an entrepreneur can put together, but it is actually one of your startup’s greatest assets. Once you know what product or service you will be selling, your business plan will provide an objective evaluation of your company. Here’s a quick look at the must-haves of this document:
- Executive summary: A basic description of your business.
- Business description, concept, and strategy: An in-depth look at what makes your business unique, and its overall goals.
- Industry analysis: A thorough look at your competition and their offerings.
- Market analysis: A glimpse at your target audience and what they need.
- Organization and management: Profiles of team members that work at your business.
- Financial projections: Your financial numbers, including a projected cash flow, profit and loss, and break-even analysis.
- Financing request: Outline of the funding required from investors.
- Appendix: Documents like industry studies, trademark registrations, and letters of incorporation, to name a few.
4. Build your credit
College students may be the last individuals that need to be told to stick to a budget, but it’s crucial that they pay attention to their credit. According to a study of millennial small business owners by Wells Fargo, 14% of millennials with small businesses get started using a personal credit card instead of taking out a loan.