How to start a business in college

How To Start a Business in College in 2021

If you’re reading this right now, then you’re probably want to start a business in college. 

It’s a fun and exciting experience, but what’s even better – you can make some good money before leaving school.

Starting a business in college is awesome because you don’t need a lot of money to pull it off.

You can literally create a sustainable and independent profession for yourself so that after graduating, you won’t need to scramble to find a good job.

I just want to reassure you that by being here, reading this post, if you’re really planning to start a business while in college, you are making a great choice.

You’ll look back at yourself a few years from now and be glad that you made this decision.

So, you have an interest in starting a business and you’re on the right path, which is awesome. But what exactly are the steps you need to take to get your business started?

Keep reading till the end to find out how to do this.

How To Start a Business In College

To start a business in college, you have to be prepared.

Starting a business as a student can be challenging for several reasons; you don’t have all the money in the world, you still have to create time to study and the business startup process can be confusing overall.

But don’t sweat it.

Here are some simple steps to get your business started in college.

1. Do a self-analysis

This may sound redundant but before starting a business in college, you need to do an assessment of yourself. 

What do you bring to the table? The SWOT analysis model is a great guide for doing a self-analysis.

So many people overestimate what they can do as business owners only to be overwhelmed after starting their business.

A good rule of thumb is – no matter how simple a business idea seems to you before you get started with it, just assume that it is not as easy as it looks. 

I’m not trying to say that you can’t learn the skills you need, but, for you to learn, you have to recognize where you are lacking in the first place.

Start your self-analysis by listing the skills and opportunities you have. What are the things that you are able to do almost effortlessly? 

What are the things that people commend you about or ask your help for?

List those under your skills. 

For your opportunities, you can list out the opportunities that are open to you due to your skills.

For example, if you’re good at web designing, or at least better than the average person, an opportunity, in this case, is that you can offer web design services to people who need help with it.

You could also take it further and start a web design agency.

Just to reiterate, before starting a business in college, the first thing you want to do is to perform a self-analysis.

2. Choose a business idea

After completing your self-analysis, the next thing you need to do is to choose a business idea.

There are several business ideas out there and at this stage, it might be pretty difficult to come up with the one idea that you want to run with.

But I advise you to take this step very seriously because you don’t want to choose a business idea that you have no passion for.

Many people have opinions about the importance of passion in choosing business ideas but I personally think passion is very important – just as important as profit-making capacity.

Just ask any new business owner – they are probably excited about starting a new business…but when you go down the timeline, you’ll discover that many people quit not too long after starting.

If starting any business is so exciting and profitable, then why are the business failure stats so high?

I can’t say that it’s because all those business owners didn’t have enough passion for their businesses.

But I can definitely say so for some of them.

So, what should you be looking out for when choosing a business idea? I have a whole nother post talking about that but here’s are some key factors you should look out for:

Your skillset:

 Like I mentioned in the first point (doing a self-analysis), no matter who you are, you have a skill set that you can leverage. You may feel like there’s really nothing special about you but there is. 

Take some time to list out some things you are good at. There really are things you can do better than others, you just need to brainstorm to remember them.

Your interests and passion:

 After brainstorming about your skills. Maybe you just have a few skills written down now. Let’s expand that list a little bit more…We’ll be looking at your interests and passions now.

These may not exactly be things you can do. But things that you are passionate about. For example, I can’t say that I’m a productivity guru – well, not yet 😉 – but it’s definitely something I’m very passionate about… I find myself watching youtube videos about productivity, time management, creativity and did I say productivity?

So, for you, there should be quite a number of things you’re interested in. Perhaps, some of them are things that you would like to learn how to do. List them all out at this point.

Your resources

Now you’ve listed out your skills, passions and interests. The next thing you want to do is to take inventory of the things you have if you want to start a business in the coming week. 

  • What equipment do you have? 
  • Do you have an office space or some location you can use?
  • Do you have enough money to start a business? (we’ll get to this later)

The target market:

Okay, this is the part that many people run away from, but it’s a pretty important part. You have to research and understand your target market to be able to serve them properly.

Believe me, it’s really not as boring as it seems. The best approach to doing market research is to fall in love with your target market.

First, create a target market persona – what are their likes, dislikes, behavioural patterns? 

What kind of things would they say? What makes them passionate, worried, or happy? Which stage of life are they currently in? What is their age? Where do they live? What social media platform or physical location do they hang out the most?

Most importantly, what are their pain points? And how can you solve them?

Your competition:

 Who else is trying to get into the hearts of your target market? What is their strategy and how is it working for them? What can you do better than them? What are some mistakes they’ve made and how can you learn from their mistakes?

There are a few more things you should look out for but you can check out this post to get the full package 😉 

So what should you do with all this information? How can you choose a business idea based on all this? 

Just ask yourself? What group of people will benefit the most from the skills and interests I have?

For example, as I mentioned, I love productivity, but I also love web development and helping small businesses in general. I’m also currently studying business administration and I’m lucky to come from a business background so I have a lot of experience from family about starting and running businesses.

So, who would possibly benefit the most from my experiences, skills, and interests?

I could say “anybody who wants to start a business” but that’s too broad. 

I could instead say “aspiring small business owners/ student entrepreneurs who have little or no business background and possibly need a website as well as guidance in starting their businesses”

That’s how you come up with a business idea. It may sound absolutely stupid to you at first, but take it easy on yourself. Remember, you have a lot of time to modify and make changes, for now, you just need something to start with.

3. Do some market, competitor, and product research: 

Okay, I talked about this pretty extensively in the last point but I have a bit more to say.

Again, I can’t overemphasize how important it is to do your market research before starting a business. Not doing market research first is like laying your foundation before building a house – it’s just something you HAVE to do except you’re looking forward to an abrupt end to your business.

Doing market research gives you the direction you need to meet the needs of your target market and perform outstandingly well in your business. 

Reiterating the points I made, here’s what to look for when doing market research: 

  • Who are they? 
    • (what are their likes, dislikes, behavioural patterns? )
    • What kind of things would they say? 
    • What kind of things would make them passionate, worried, or happy?
  •  What stage of life are they currently in? 
  •  What is their age? 
  • Where do they live?
  •  What social media platform or physical location do they hang out the most?
  • What are their pain points and how can you solve them?

Which leads us to the product. Yes, you know what their pain point is but how you plan to solve those pain points is what makes or breaks your business and this is where your creativity, problem solving and design thinking skills can be hugely developed.

Make sure your product is irresistible and achieving this all boils down to understanding their pain points so well that you know what language to use when describing them – using phrases that they would be likely to use when talking or complaining about their pain points. 

The key is to create a product or service that solves the problem, but it doesn’t stop there – you also have to use the right language in helping them see that your product is the right fit for them.

The next thing we are going to talk about is your competition.

Come to think about it, you don’t have to recreate the wheel. 

These people have probably been in business much longer than you have and they know what works, so now, you need to do some research on them to find out what they are doing. 

What works for them and what doesn’t? 

All you need to do is to find the missing gaps and START THERE. Yes. That’s the best and easiest way to differentiate yourself from them, especially at the beginning stage.

After everything we’ve covered so far, the remaining things that you have to do are just a breeze.

4. Write a business plan:

This part is great because it really helps you fill out the missing gaps in your own business even before you start.

Think of a business plan as a guide to preventing business failure. It helps you think about important things in your business, even before you get started, which is important in helping you in identifying and avoiding mistakes that you would’ve made – only to realize when it’s too late. 

Writing a business plan can be overwhelming, especially when doing it from scratch, but thankfully, there are lots of free templates online that you can get started with. 

I haven’t written a post on writing a business plan but I have created this comprehensive Instagram post to walk you through the entire business planning process (you can follow me on there too 😉 ).

5. Make arrangements/draft out an operations plan: 

After writing a business plan, the next thing that you want to do is to create an operations plan. 

How do you intend to run your business on a day-to-day basis? 

Yes, write down all the tasks that you will need to complete each day, week, month, year, and create a manual or guide on how to complete those tasks. 

Imagine hiring someone to work with you and not having the time to walk them through everything, can your operations guide be sufficiently comprehensive to get them ready to work?

If the answer is yes, then you’ve done a good job with your operations manual.

It should be detailed, full of examples, broken down in steps and easy to understand/follow along.

This shouldn’t be a huge task for a small business because you obviously don’t have a lot of tasks yet. But as your business grows, it is important to keep updating your operations manual.

6. Garner publicity:

You’re almost ready to start your business at this point! Now you need to let people know that you exist.

Set up your social media platforms – focus on the platforms that you can easily find your target audience.

Create anticipation for your business launch.

Do not start selling or promoting your product yet. First, you need to focus on building a good connection with your audience. 

In business, trust is everything. Nobody will buy from someone who only sells them things without bothering about building a genuine connection with them. 

They have to feel like you get them. After launching your business, take a week to intensively connect and interact with your target audience. 

A bonus tip: You can create freebies too. Everybody likes free valuable things and when they perceive that you are willing to give so much value for free, they’ll also be curious to know what you have to offer when you are paid.

When you get to a point that people are reaching out to ask about what you offer, you are in a good spot.

But you don’t have to wait for people to ask…you can make a poll asking your audience if they would be interested in buying a product that solves their pain point (describe their pain points and your product in a way that compliments each other).

If you get a positive response, start refining and getting ready to launch your product!

7. Launch your business officially:

After spending time connecting with your audience, and refining your product, it’s time to launch your business…what I mean here is, launch your product.

You need to continue providing a lot of value for your target market because that’s what keeps their trust in you up.

At your first launch, you may not get a huge number of sales but as you stay consistent with connecting and providing value to your audience, you build credibility which definitely leads to more sales eventually – much sooner than you expect.


If you’re considering starting a business soon, I am proud of you and even if nobody else does, I believe in you.

If you’ve tried this before and failed, you are absolutely awesome for not giving up yet. This is exactly the mindset you need to be successful and I promise that you will be if you follow the steps in this post.

Thank you for reading till the end. Go out there and build an awesome business! Start TODAY.

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