Why You Should Start a Small Business Before Graduation

Looked pretty average back then

September 2 2011
by Phil Novara

Imagine if you started a $30 billion company by sophomore year? Would you think twice about graduation? Think differently about college all together?

In 2004, that’s exactly what Mark Zuckerberg did. He created “The Facebook” which evolved into the famous social platform we all know and love today. Of course it wasn’t always a billion dollar company, but Zuckerberg did build a very successful business in college, and you can too!

Most undergrads have no clue why they’re in college. The average freshmen changes majors 2-3 times before their sophomore year. Interests change. Life becomes a party and come to find out philosophy degrees aren’t applicable in the “real world.” Four years can happen fast.

Now, I’m a realist, and I’m not convincing you to build “The Next Facebook.” I have an alternative solution: Start a small business. Even a funny t-shirt business will prepare you more than any college course. You don’t have to create the next Facebook – you just have to start something, now!

Here are the top 10 reasons to start a small business before graduating college:

1. Free Time

College is full of free-time. Young professionals quickly realize how much free time a “real job” eats up. The 40-50 hour work week really cuts into playing X-Box.

Don’t waste that precious time, I know your young, but building wealth starts now. Start a small business and gain the knowledge to propel your future. You’ll be 10 steps ahead of the game.

2. What do you Love?

Most undergrads are not free from their parents. That’s a bummer when you want to spend a summer partying, but it’s awesome when starting a small business.
Your parents are covering your expenses. You’re not 40 years old supporting a family. That gives you freedom to work on what you love, even if it doesn’t make tons of cash. For example, do you love editing videos? Get really good at it. There are thousands of companies who need rock-star video editors. The experience is worth its weight in gold.

3. Friends Will Work for Free

In college, your friends will work for free (well, most of them). The majority of students consider themselves “broke college students.” A shot at making money easily motivates young entrepreneurs. Once you graduate, people have bills to pay, and working for free is not an option.

SIDE NOTE: Choose who you work with wisely, don’t pick your party animal roommate.

4. Be a Rock Star in your First Interview

Do you really want to bore an interviewer about how you constructed a detailed SWOT analysis on Coca-Cola? Trust me, they don’t care.

What if you referred to a real world situation how you handled a customer demanding back money because you sold them an inferior funny t-shirt? How did you handle that situation? What could you have done better?

It’s a no brainer, real life experience trumps schooling every time. When you run a small business, you gain that experience. Business isn’t what you read in college books, it’s about the people you meet and how you handle situations. If you have that experience, you can “WOW” interviewers with your knowledge through stories. Be interesting and prepare.

5. “The Real World” isn’t yet Real

Think big. Like really big. The “real world” hasn’t yet warped your mind. You’re young. You haven’t been molded into the 9-5 cookie cutter caffeine addicts that the “real world” creates. Use that to your advantage, what have you got to lose?

6. Networking Resources

It may not seem like it now, but college can provide you with tons of resources. There are tons of students there with successful parents. If you work at making a handful of friends, you can leverage their parents to help you launch a small company.

Building a small business takes resources, and if you don’t have the resources already, you need to find the people that do and convince them of your business. College is crawling with students that have the resources and connections you need to succeed. Along with this, take some time to do your research and find the best informational articles about the industry your business will be in. Knowledge is going to be one of your best friends!

7. Extra Income

What happens if you make an extra $300/mo selling funny t-shirts? Or get paid to write content for blogs? What could you do with that money? How much more time will that consume vs working at the campus library for minimum wage? College campuses are tight knit, it would be easy to set up shop on campus and sell funny shirts (I know, I’m beating the t-shirt business into the ground). Get going!

Seriously…what have you got to lose? If you fail, you’ll learn and that is experience nobody can take away from you.

Phil Novara is a serial entrepreneur looking to break out into his next venture. He is currently building a funny video contest called Blooper Box which can be found at http://www.blooperbox.com

If you have any business questions, here is his contact info:
Email: philip.novara@gmail.com
Twitter: @pnovara

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3 thoughts on “Why You Should Start a Small Business Before Graduation

  1. Another point to add to the list, Phil, is that you have a huge audience who can test-drive your first attempts. It's really valuable to get feedback and then adjust accordingly.

  2. Sara,

    That's a very valid point. Campus surveys are also be a great way to test a market/idea. College students are very susceptible to new ideas or something they find cool. Thanks for the comment!

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