5 Steps: How to Launch a Startup in College

This is a guest post by Eddie Earnest of HigherNext.

Whether your aim is to launch the next Facebook or simply to beef up the ‘experience’ section of your resume — or anything in between — there are many reasons to turn your ideas into companies while you’re in college.

Here’s how to make it happen.

Step 1 – Find something you’re passionate about

You hear it all the time, but that doesn’t make it any less of a prerequisite.   You’re going to be in the weeds on whatever idea you choose to pursue, and you need to be fully bought into the big picture pursuit in order to summon up the necessary motivation on a daily basis to see things through.  After all, you’re a full-time student, so picture yourself spending nights and weekends working on this idea.  If you can’t see it, it’ll never happen.

Step 2 – Talk to friends and fellow students

One of the great things about being in college is that you have access to very diverse groups of people.  Find people who might fit into your target market or have an opinion on your idea and chat with them.  Take everything with a grain of salt, but soak it in nonetheless.  Your goal here is simply to test the waters and refine your idea into something actionable.

Step 3 – Set your time and personal expectations

You’ve got the greatest idea in the world.  Now what?  Think baby steps.  How much time are you going to set aside each week to work on your idea?  Where do you want to be with the idea in 1 month?  3 months?  6 months?  These are the questions you’re going to want to answer for yourself.  Keeping in mind your priorities as a student, build something that is sustainable throughout the short-term.

Step 4 – Build, launch, gather feedback, repeat

The lean startup methodology should become your mantra as a college entrepreneur.  It’s all about efficiency.  With limited time at your disposal, you need to maximize output and minimize cost (your time).  I highly recommend reading the book before diving into your new venture.  The time you spend reading the book will save you exponentially more time when you’re running your startup.

Step 5 – Define metrics and growth goals

Now that you’ve been out to market with your new venture, you have some great intel and should know whether or not you have something that’s worth your continued time investment.  Assuming it is, hone in on your growth metrics and do everything you can from this point on to push those numbers through the roof.  After all, the essence of a startup is growth.  Managing it is easier said than done, which is why you might be tempted to drop out of school to do so (a la Mr. Zuckerberg).

If you’ve made it through Step 5 and you are considering taking the dropout plunge, talk to this guy first.  He might even give you $100,000 to do it.

About the Author: This post was written by .  Eddie is the lead marketer at HigherNext, an education startup, and a regular contributor to Corporate Casual, a blog focused on exploring trends in higher education, entry-level hiring and the assessment of business skills.

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