Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Dell, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, besides being billionaires do you know what else these superstar entrepreneurs have in common? They all started their businesses in college. The life of a student entrepreneur is tough. How can you manage to succeed in school all while launching a business? Well, ironically some of the names listed above left school to pursue their dreams. However, that doesn’t mean you do to.
While I can’t tell you stay or not, I can offer some guidance that will help you take advantage of all the great resources a university may give you while starting your business.
Here are three business tips for the student entrepreneur.
Seek alternative funding opportunities.
Odds are you don’t have time to pitch angels or venture capitalists to raise money for your business. The good news for you is the university world is full of alternative financing options for startups. Depending on what industry you’re in, there are a ton of grants you can apply for that will give you a decent amount of capital.
Unlike traditional funding, grants typically come with less strings attached. Which is another huge plus. The last thing you want is to take on more debt from a loan, or convertible note while you’re still in school.
Take advantage of every networking opportunity.
College is a great place to meet friends and build personal relationships. It’s also one of the best places to make business connections as well. While you’re in school, you need to take advantage of every single networking opportunity available.
Whether it’s through a fraternity event, sorority event, or it’s organized through one of your classes they’re all beneficial.
You should also tap into the alumni network as early as you can. Many of these individuals are just like you, and there’s a good chance you’ll find one who started their own business in college as well. These individuals will be invaluable mentors for you as you build your business.
Leverage your professors for support.
Your professors are there to help you succeed. Once you’re out in the “real world” it’s not always easy to find genuine people who are willing to help. While you’re in school, you need to leverage your professors as much as possible.
For example, let’s say you’re ready to roll out a marketing campaign for your business. Before you do that, why not run it by your professor in your marketing class? Same goes for any business plans, contracts, and any other material you’re unsure of. The professor will be impressed by your ambition, and will feel inclined to offer support.
Pro tip: The majority of business classes will have students work through the basic tasks of launching and scaling a company. This gives you the opportunity to double your school assignments with your business. Whether you’re building financial models, or creating a cost benefit analysis you can use all of these opportunities to work on your company. In addition, it’s your professor’s job to look over and critique your work.
Business is tough. Succeeding as a student is also hard work. Launching a business while you’re still in school is quite the challenge. However, it can definitely be done. If you want to better your chances of success, make sure you take note of the three business tips above for the student entrepreneur.
Originally published on Medium