The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in colleges today. A booming market and a healthy economy allow many students to dream big and take the leap into starting a business. However, starting a business is hard work and even harder while still in college, but it can be done. Here are 5 smart tips for making that transition from college student to business owner easier.
Protect Your Intellectual Property
Unfortunately, ideas are stolen every day. Most of the time, the first person to invent the idea is the owner, but you still need a patent. Patents rely on the “first to invent” rule where you need proof in the form of written notes, documents, emails, etc. to prove that you thought of it first. Patenting your brilliant idea or intellectual property (IP) can mean the difference in millions of dollars in the future.
Apply for Grants
In the world of academia, grants are gold, literally. Grants can help pay for a business idea to get off the ground. Those much-needed funds come in all shapes and sizes. With a push in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) areas, the number of scientific grants has increased greatly over the last few years.
Watch That Credit Rating
In order for a business to run smoothly, there either needs to be an endless supply of money or the ability to raise credit. A credit card with a lower interest rate serves a business much better than one that is almost impossible to pay back quickly. When applying for credit cards or loans, make sure that your credit score is high. Making late payments, or no payments at all, can derail a business even before it gets off the ground.
Keep a College Network
Use college as a time to build business connections. Maybe a college professor would sit on the advisory board of a new business, which not only helps the business, but lends an air of importance. Depending on the type of business you start, you can develop networks across departments, with post-grads, other students, and even those on the lecture circuit. Marketing is a valuable and necessary part of staying relative in business and having a ready-made network is priceless.
Open a Business Account and Track Everything
Keeping up with expenses, income, operating costs, and incidental expenses is vital to a business. Even if financing or accounting isn’t your cup of tea, take the time to track all costs and open a business account. Keeping business funds separate from a personal account, even when running a very small business, is necessary for accounting purposes.
Making the most of your college career, protecting your IP, networking, and keeping everything straight in the books are all great steps toward becoming a successful entrepreneur.