Be an entrepreneur they said, it’ll be great they said. And well, it is. I love the freedom that running my own company affords. I’m a college student and my schedule can be a bit crazy from time to time so having the flexibility to set my own hours is great. However running my own company isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, it’s also full of compromises and uncertainty. How can I, and other young entrepreneurs, handle school, business, life and keep it all fun? Well here are some thoughts.
Advantages of running a business in college
- Flexibility- It’s exam week and things are getting hectic, you’ve got a helluvalot on your plate and you really need to focus on school right now. In my experience I’ve been able to work ahead and inform clients that I’ll be down that week. This is advantageous compared to a job that you may be working with a bunch of other college students and when everyone needs time off then someone is going to get screwed. I’ve been able to avoid that, so can you.
- Networking- I’ve been able to make some sweet connections because I do some web design. Connections that, I hope, will benefit me when I’m no longer a full time student.
Disadvantages of running a business in college
- You don’t have a boss- It’s a pro and a con. I love that I don’t have anyone, other than the occasional client, breathing down my neck as I work. However not having a boss also means I have to set my own schedule, I have to make sure the client is happy, and I have to make sure things actually get done. Oh and there’s also the whole making sure that your staying profitable and clients are paying.
- You don’t have a ‘space’ to work- This has been one of my biggest struggles for me, especially since I moved off-campus. Having my ‘office’ in my bedroom is difficult. I’ve got that comfortable bed, food, and a house full of roommates doing things that seem more fun than checking for little bugs in a website. So having that focus that comes with a dedicated office space can be a struggle.
- Money can be inconsistent- There won’t always be money flowing in. Some months may be spectacular and others may not be the greatest so it’s important to know how to manage your money. Set budgets and don’t break them. It will be the end of you. Just because you have a great month it doesn’t mean you need to spend all of it. Reinvest in your company, have a little fun, but save. Save a decent amount so you can support yourself in months that aren’t the best. I’ll be talking about my approach to finances soon, so make sure you don’t miss the article.
Managing it all
- Make lists- I LOVE to make lists. I’ve got my to-do list for school with all my to-do dates and I do the exact same for work. List out the tasks that need to be done for that week and assign specific due dates. Keep yourself accountable.
- Find somewhere on or near campus to work- When I’m on or near campus I feel obligated to get things done. Therefore I find it important to find a place to make your office. Only use it for work, not studying, that way when you’re there you need it’s time to make money.
- Keep a journal- Keep a journal for certain, consistent, time periods and be honest. When you review your journal or as you’re writing it you’ll realize what you got done and if you need to make any changes.
Where’s the proof?
How do you know I’m not just blowing smoke, making this up as I go? Well, to be honest I am. It’s a constant learning experience for me and I’m always revising things. I’ve played with businesses, in reality they were just side projects that I made a buck or two from, but they’ve all taught me a unique lesson about creating something. My latest venture is HandleBar Labs, a web design and development agency that focuses on creating great experiences and enables college students to get real world experience.
Know someone who can benefit from this article?
Have anyone that’s toying with the idea of working for themselves? Email them this article. Toying with the idea yourself and still have questions? Send me an email or leave a comment below.