There is only so much you can be taught in the classroom. You can memorise every theory, every process and every calculation off by heart and be capable of writing them 100 times over. This may be ironic coming from someone who has always overdone it when studying for exams, however, there is only so much of this technical information you will use in “real-world” scenarios. Some of the most valuable lessons we learn are the ones that are not actually taught to us.
I wanted to share a few (non-academical) insights I learned from my experience that may help others who are looking to start a business while being a student.
1. Stop wanting, start doing.
Many people will try to tell you to get a job within the industry you wish to start your business in. This may be all well and good to gain a greater insight, and if you feel your confidence may be lacking and want to gain experience first, then this may be more suited for you. However, if you have a business idea and it’s related to an industry you are interested in, then your passion will help you to drive your success. There is no point talking about an idea for months without putting anything into action. Even small steps, like creating a social media page, all input towards overall growth. People may say the “just go for it” mentality is immature and not well thought out. So what? We are young, we are stereotyped to already lack responsibility and think this way, so you might as well use it to your benefit while you can.
2. Figure it out as you go.
This was my entire mentality for my business. Business is a fluid, constantly changing pursuit. Don’t try and plan everything out, just get started. Fail until you get it right. You’ll ultimately grow into a better business owner by embracing failure, taking action and learning from it.
3. Utilise your student status.
I cannot stress this point enough. The majority of start up companies by students are small and do not require much capital. More than likely, students will be selling knowledge they already have or a product they already know how to produce. If capital is required, there are plenty of ways to get it, such as through a student enterprise initiative or local start up support companies. Once you have started your business, emphasise that it is a student enterprise. This is one thing I can promise you that will work. People will want to support you. You are young and showing initiative, use it to your advantage.
4. Know that it won’t be easy.
There will be times you will want to throw in the towel. There will be times where the pressure builds up and you have 100 things to do, as well as trying to stay on top of assignments and coursework. When all your friends are going out, you have to stay in to write business plans. It happened to me numerous times. The night before I was due to be on Dragons Den, I had a breakdown and tried to give up. In these times, you have to remember why you started in the first place. Keep your goal in mind and always think rationally- if you gave up, all your hard work and progress until then would go to waste.
Also remember that you start the process for your benefit. Many students have the mindset that giving up something that has no benefit to you (a night out getting drunk) is a burden when replaced with something that does benefit you (working on your business). This mindset needs to go before you even think of your company’s name.
5. Believe in yourself.
Think of it this way, nobody actually knows how the world works. How does anyone know whether they will be successful or not? The only way to find out is to try. The only person stopping you from trying is yourself. If you truly believe in yourself and believe you will succeed, you will attract and achieve aspects that contribute to your success. If there is even a shadow of a doubt, it can outweigh all of your positivity. Many students have created businesses and succeeded, there is numerous amounts of proof that it is not impossible.