Young and on the rise
Today, many young entrepreneurs launch prosperous businesses while sitting at their laptop keyboards. Thanks to the connected world, students can work online in various fields and start a business from anywhere.
Let’s look at some of the ways you can make the most of the tech at your disposal and make money as a student.
1. Start with why: Lead with purpose and passion
Your life’s focus as a student is getting through heaps of books day in and day out. Starting a business may seem like adding unnecessary pressure while trying to bag that degree. Not unless you have a purpose behind it, though.
What is the mental switch that motivates people to act? According to Simon Sinek, a leadership specialist, the "Why" is the push button that activates motivation.
To start a sustainable business, you need to first figure out its reason for existing; what Sinek calls the why.
Your why might be a passion, a belief, or an aspiration. Whatever it may be, it is the thing that will give you the courage to plunge in headfirst into self-employment.
Let’s put pen onto paper to figure out your why in this short exercise.
Discover your why:
- What are my innate strengths?
- What am I passionate about?
- What makes me come alive?
- Why do I want to make money?
The information above should help you derive meaning and a greater purpose behind your reason for starting a business.
2. Identify opportunities around you
Have you ever heard the saying, “We only pay attention to what we’re focusing on”? At the moment, it may be easy to think there are no opportunities to start a business, but when you open your eyes to see what needs to be solved, you might be in for a surprise.
A suggestion would be to begin where you are. Speak to your social circle, your community of friends and family, or if you’re in varsity, chat to the students around you.
What problems or unmet needs have you noticed they are facing?
You can find insights into this question by creating focus groups, one-on-one interviews, or open discussions with your peers.
The information you source will likely show you what problems your business can solve – which is the foundation of any solid business idea.
Or you can create a solution for something you find bothersome or is an inconvenience in your life. The solution should make the process more efficient, less expensive, or more enjoyable.
Got a business idea? Read How to Test a Business Idea (+FREE Market Research Survey Template)
3. Take advantage of your student network
It's difficult to imagine another setting where you'll have as much access to networking opportunities and like-minded individuals as you have at university.
Like you, other ambitious students gather at university with the goal of bettering their futures and themselves. You won't have a hard time finding people who share your interests and who have a variety of skills and are searching for opportunities to use and advance themselves.
This has a variety of benefits. You might come upon the ideal business partner, a pool of willing testers or clients, or a strategy to use academic resources or publications to market your goods or services.
4. Seek mentorship and networking opportunities
There's a deceptive representation of successful businesspeople being completely self-made and independent. Even the most creative businesspeople will have a solid support system and be sensible enough to heed other people's suggestions.
According to research by the Federation of Small Enterprises, 45% of new businesses fail within the first five years, and 70% of entrepreneurs with a mentor stay in business for at least five years.
You may have the best business idea the world has ever seen, but it's futile if you don't put the right systems in place or the people equipped with expertise in your corner.
To future-proof your business, it's wise for you to find out whether your university offers a mentorship programme for young businesspeople.
Universities often have an initiative that puts students in touch with successful local businesspeople, possibly even successful university alumni, showing budding entrepreneurs that their goals for success are realistic.
When you leverage the resources and expertise of your university, ask questions like:
- Is my idea for a product sound?
- Are there any adjustments that might improve it?
- What should be in my business plan?
You don’t have to be in a tertiary institution to access support. Another way to get plugged in with a suitable mentor is through Incubator Programmes.
Programmes known as incubators are organised initiatives that offer office space, professional development opportunities, and networking to new businesses. These programmes act as drivers for the success and expansion of a young business.
5. Use digital tools to your advantage
Ease of access and the advancement of digital technology have levelled the playing field for young entrepreneurs.
The ability to gather information about the market from many sources and interact with clients across various channels is one of the most significant advantages that digital ways of working offer young entrepreneurs.
You don’t need to have a brick-and-mortar store to start and run your business, which is excellent for any young aspiring entrepreneur because it limits costs.
And while you’re in varsity, you need as much time to focus on your studies. Automation allows you to do exactly that.
Automation is the use of technology to perform tasks with reduced human assistance. This can assist start-up businesses in:
- Digital marketing
- Leads and contacts
- Financial management and accounting
- Project and task management
You have the benefits of starting your business on social media or building an online business using free website-building tools like Wix or WooCommerce.
Here’s the best part for students planning on leveraging the online business world. We’ve created payment solutions to:
- Accept payments anytime, anywhere without a card machine or website with iK Pay Link
- Accept ecommerce payments on your Wix or WooCommerce website using iK Pay Gateway.
Thinking of selling on social media? Here’s How to Make Money Using Payment Links
6. Be disciplined: Plan your time
Finding the appropriate balance and staying on top of your studies is crucial. However, you can set aside time to work on a business with the proper time management strategy.
A tremendous level of discipline is needed to run a side business from the beginning. Especially if it’s something you’re passionate about and it makes you some moola.
You must plan the times when you can focus on your business and the times when you must concentrate on your academics, then follow through with your strategy.
7. Start small: Take baby steps
Whether you’re still planning to start a business or getting your business off the ground, you must remember that big moves start small.
Desmond Tutu once wisely said that “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.”
The same applies to starting that business while studying. Your success won’t happen overnight, but it will be a steady work in progress that will lead to long-term success that nothing overnight can match.
Another great advantage of running a business as a student is that it gives you the chance to experiment and fail. Although failure may not seem like a desirable thing, it can be a very valuable experience. Each mistake awards you the chance to keep testing, asking and exploring until you get it right.
Tips in action:
Even if your business venture brings in a few handy bucks, there are a few things to make note of that’ll help you stay the course.
- Don't forget to study. Even if you're making a solid living, keep in mind why you’re in tertiary in the first place.
- Do your research on any tax or insurance rules you must follow when you’re running your business.
- Expect to wait a while before you start seeing any real growth.
- Be aware of scams and “get-rich-quick” schemes that may come across as legit. Do your digging and ask all necessary questions.
Be about your books and your business
Remember that assignments and tests should continue to take precedence.
Other than that, when you’re ready to start your business and reach new heights, companies like iKhokha will be there to help you bring your vision to life.
To add onto your reading list: How to Choose the Right Ecommerce Platform for Your Business