How to Start a Business From Your Dorm Room

Many college students feel that simply getting good grades and a degree from a prestigious institution is all they need to succeed in life. While Fortune 500 companies may indeed be peppered heavily with Ivy League graduates, there are just as many (if not more) unemployed people or those working low-wage jobs that also have degrees from prestigious institutions.

More often than not, those who succeed outside the halls of higher education are people who used their college years to do far more than just get good grades. In fact, some of the largest companies in the world were started in college or came out of relationships built in college. These include Facebook, Reddit Snapchat and even Def Jam records. Here are 5 tips to start your own business from your dorm room—and why you should.

1. Talk to Everyone About Your Business Idea

Starting a business requires a vast array of skill sets. There are few times in your life when you will have access to such a wide range of skilled workers as in college. After graduation, you may have to develop all of these skills yourself or hire someone for each task. In college, you may have a friend studying graphic design that can help you build a website or create marketing materials. You may have a friend studying accounting that can help you create a budget and even assist with the financial aspects of building a solid business plan.

You have access to experienced instructors that can also advise you on various aspects of building a business. At the moment, all of these people may be able to assist you for a reduced cost—or even for free. However, once you leave college, you will need to hire people to get these jobs done.

2. Develop a Core Group of Partners or Advisers

Talking about your business idea with a wide range of people will help you determine what you need to do and what resources you need to get your business up and running. If you are passionate about your idea, you may attract people who are equally passionate and want to help.

To begin with, you want to cast a wide net. When you start to have a good idea of what it is you want to do and how to get started, then you want to narrow your circle down into a small group of passionate, committed partners and advisers. Too many chefs will spoil the pot and there is such a thing as too much input.

3. Don’t Waste Time Trying to Get What You Need Until You Need It

Building a business is like overcoming a long string of hurdles. Every step brings a new problem that must be solved. There is certainly something to be said for anticipating problems before they occur, but don’t spend a lot of time and energy solving problems you don’t actually have yet. Spend each day focusing on solving the problems you have right now. That will be more than enough.

One great thing about living in the age of technology is that you have a greater ability than ever before to only get the tech tools you need without having to purchase ones you don’t. Again, make sure you are only getting what you need, when you legitimately need it.

4. Avoid Viewing the Experience as Pass/ Fail

Jeff Bezos started his first business in high school. It was an educational summer camp for 4th, 5th and 6th graders called the Dream Institute. Since the Dream Institute no longer exists, many would say that his first business “failed.” Years later, when Amazon went live, it sold books in 45 different countries within the first 30 days and was doing $20,000 a week in sales within the first week.

The question is whether Amazon would ever be the successful company it is without the experience Bezos gained from his earlier “failure.” The business you run out of your dorm room may not become the next Facebook or Amazon, but that doesn’t mean it won’t provide learning opportunities to help you become the next Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos.

5. Set a Goal & Create a Plan for Achieving It

Say, you wanted to take a trip. Would you just get in your car and start driving? Probably not. First you would decide on a destination. Then, maybe you would consult a map app to determine how many miles it will be, how long it is likely to take, and the best route given weather conditions. You may also need to do some juggling to free up the time to take the trip, as well as budget money for it.

Chances are good that the more plans you make, the more likely your trip is to go smoothly. It doesn’t mean there won’t be hiccups along the way, but the more comprehensive your plan is, the more likely you will be to overcome any obstacles.

This is similar to building a business. The truth is, sometimes you will plan on going to New York, but end up in Georgia. In some cases, you may actually find yourself far happier in Georgia than you ever would have been in New York. When things don’t go according to plan, that doesn’t make them a failure.

It doesn’t matter if the business you start in college doesn’t become the next Fortune 500 company. It doesn’t have to be to provide a valuable experience. Remember that in college, not all experiences are valuable only if they gain you a passing grade. Some of the most valuable experiences you have may never be graded at all.

About the Author

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Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate tech enthusiast. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie enjoys reading about the latest apps and gadgets and binge-watching his favorite TV shows. You can reach him @bmorepeters.

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