Were you the type of kid who started a lemonade stand and actually convinced adults to purchase your sugary concoction? Does the idea of working for someone else and leaving your financial destiny in the hands of a large business leave a sour taste in your mouth? Starting a small business instead of entering the corporate rat race might be the best option for you, and it's possible to begin this venture straight out of college. If you're ready, willing and have a passion for being your own boss, here is a simple guide to starting your own enterprise.
Finding Your Niche
Have you been making homemade costume jewelry for years, or do you have a knack for sales? When it comes to determining what product or service your small business will offer, it's all about realizing your passion and discovering your niche. If you're having trouble finding an idea but are sure you're a born entrepreneur, search the Internet or your own neighborhood for inspiration. While on the lookout for the next great idea, remember to ask yourself a few important questions; are the needs of my community being met, or is there a demand for a particular product or service? If your passion lies with baking, it's not prudent to establish a shop in an already saturated neighborhood. Once you've determined your product or service is in demand, it's time to formulate a rock-solid business plan.
Creating a Business Plan
Aside from giving you a clear vision for the future, creating a thorough, logical and structured business plan can help you secure financing quickly. Ideally, this is where that business degree or those courses you took in economics will come in handy. If you're still not sure how to formulate a business plan, don't hesitate to seek the assistance of a professional or successful entrepreneur in the field. Include your business description, potential start-up costs, development plan, marketing scheme and operations budget. The more structured and in-depth your business plan is, the more seriously potential investors will take your enterprise. Even if you're funding the business yourself, creating a business plan helps you realize your goals and keeps you on track through that first year.
You might lie awake at night dreaming of how you'll spend your new-found wealth after your small business becomes a smashing success. Before you begin shopping for a luxury condo though, it's important to realize that the majority of small businesses don't start producing any real profits for at least three to four years. This means you'll basically be working to keep the doors open and the lights on for quite some time. In addition, you must also keep any dreams of expansion in check. Your ultimate goal might be a franchise, but in order to keep operating costs manageable, you might want to consider holding off on expanding your brand until you're profitable consistently for at least two years.
In the beginning, chances are you and a few helpful friends and family members will be your only employees. As time passes, taking on extra help will become a real challenge you must face. Obtaining a masters in dispute resolution will help you keep your employees from bickering, but this is only the tip of iceberg. Before taking on employees, speak to a lawyer or accountant about the tax implications of hiring extra help. You might find it's within your budget to hire a second, third or fourth set of hands. Conversely, you might find the added expense of hiring an employee isn’t manageable.
Many college-students-turned-entrepreneurs have found great success starting a small business on the Internet. The overhead costs are low, and you can literally begin making money from the comfort of your living room. If you love the idea of starting an Internet business but don't know a hard drive from an Ethernet port, consider earning your information technology management degree to help you get through the eventual hiccups of operating your business online.
About the Author: Jackson Benson is a guest blogger and recent graduate. Jackson started his own technology consulting firm four years ago and is now considering expanding outside of his hometown.