Dream of starting your own business? Why wait? You can launch your startup while you're still a student. Here's how.
Challenge the traditional notions of studenthood with entrepreneurship, and you can launch your business while you're still a student. It requires the balance between school and business, and the determination and grit to make it happen.
Think you have what it takes? Twenty-three-year-old graduate of University of Warwick Timothy Armoo, CEO and cofounder of Fanbytes, does. In a recent Forbes profile, Armoo explained how he built his company as a student.
He says, "I see myself more as a founder, and being a student is just a transitory thing where I’m studying at that point. I don’t even call myself a student. It’s more like: at this point, I happen to be also dedicating something of my time to studying a few things. At my core, I remain a founder."
His advice for students who want to start companies? "Act as if you’re not a student. That’s the thing, right? Sure, you have to ensure that you’re attending lectures and taking exams, I’m not saying not to do those things. I haven’t had the common uni experience at all. At the beginning of university, I said to myself, ‘What do I care about, and why am I here? Why am I at university getting a computer science degree? What do I care about?’"
What do you care about? And can you translate that into a business? With these five tips, you can. Let's take a closer look.
1. Determine your priorities
Know that if you're choosing to launch a startup as a student, something has to give. You can't have it all--good grades, a great GPA, and a successful startup--all at once. You will need to prioritize one over the other to make it. Determine how you allocate your time based on what's more valuable: the better grade, or your business.
Position yourself wisely and set yourself up for success in both. Know that one will probably come at the cost of the other, at least in the beginning.
2. Maximize your entrepreneurial qualities
If you have the idea, the gumption, and the wherewithal, you'll make it. Entrepreneurs need perseverance, the ability to manage failure, the power of persuasion, and negotiating skills. You'll need to be able to laugh at yourself, make mistakes, and take risks.
Have those things? Practice them. Practice them in class, at home, with your friends. Join a club. Learn how to sell your idea. Ask people for help. You can do it. All it takes is a little work.
3. Look for courses/incubators
If you look, you'll find it. There are short, 4-8 week incubator programs out there that focus on industry-specific projects, like technology, medicine, product funding, and development. Incubators give you the chance to network and find partners (see #4) for your products and inventions. You're also likely to gain mentorship, media exposure, accounting support, and other connections.
Assemble your team, work on a great pitch, and check out the incubator scene.
Courses can help, too, especially those that focus on the business of startups, like patent filing, business registrations, regulatory knowledge, and clinical trials. Look for a business course at your university, or reach out to a local community college to see what they offer.
4. Find partners
As a student, you're surrounded by thousands of smart, energetic people. How do you find the right partner? Find those who share your skill set and personality--and those that mesh with you personally. You'll also want to find partners who have expertise that you need but don't necessarily have yet.
Join clubs, take classes, go to meetings. See who stands out to you.
Key tip: don't find partners who are just like you. Find partners who will challenge you in healthy ways. A sense of humor helps, too.
5. Use the resources that graduate school can bring you
You're in school, right? Use the resources around you. You have access to fantastic partners, the potential for mentors, and the support of faculty. You also have a variety of classes at your fingertips with professors who care about their work--and maybe yours, too. Maximize your leverage by doing the best you can in school and pitching your ideas to anyone who'll listen.
You've got this. Go do it.
Learn more about entrepreneurship.