What Does it Take to be a Successful Collegiate Entrepreneur?

College is about investing in your future.  For most students, the investment is rooted in obtaining an education to help achieve career goals.  However, some students have a different investment strategy.  These students often forego extracurricular activities and endure countless sleepless nights in an effort to launch their careers while still in college.  For some collegiate entrepreneurs, the investment has paid off exponentially.  But how were collegiate entrepreneurs like Gates, Dell and Zuckerberg able to achieve such great success?

Regardless of whether you are trying to create the next social media revolution from your dorm room or start a property management company in your college town, there are a number of key principles that every aspiring collegiate entrepreneur should adhere to.  While these principles will not guarantee success, they will help you overcome some of the most common obstacles that hinder entrepreneurial ventures.

First, you must have clarity.  Before you start a venture, you need to have a goal for what you would like to accomplish and a plan for how you are going to achieve it.  Sound simple?  In practice, clarity takes time.  Clarity involves identifying existing products/services, evaluating the market, sizing up potential competition and focusing on specific customers/consumers.  These steps will not only help you gauge the feasibility of your idea, but they will also bring your idea into focus.  Once you take these initial steps, you need to develop a strategy to bring your idea to life.  This strategy should be memorialized in a comprehensive business plan.  A business plan will guide you through the startup process and will serve as an important tool to gain support from investors and strategic partners.  Ultimately, if you are unable to clearly articulate your idea and plan, your venture will not succeed.

Second, you must stay focused.  One of the biggest mistakes made by entrepreneurs is that they get involved in too many projects at the same time.  Once you have your idea and plan in place, stick with it.  You must stay focused on your plan in order to achieve success.  Don’t start the next venture until you have stabilized the first one or seen it through.  Dividing your time and resources between too many projects is a surefire way to guarantee failure.  In addition, stay focused on what you are good at.  If you have never written a line of computer code, it is probably not a good idea to start a smartphone app company on your own.  You will have a higher likelihood for success if your venture is centered around your strengths.  Finally, you need to set intervals to honestly evaluate the development of your venture.  These benchmarks or milestones will help you stay focused on achieving your goals and help you assess your progress.  Initially, make sure to give yourself extra time and start small with your benchmarking.

Third, you have to be patient.  Patience is by far the most important principle to achieve success.  You are going to spend an immeasurable amount of time refining your idea, developing a viable business plan and starting up your venture.  You have to give your plan time to work! Don’t waste time and energy constantly evaluating your venture.  Instead, focus on value-added activities and wait for your planned benchmarks to size up your progress.  Don’t let impatience be the downfall of your venture.

Finally, you have to be ready to adapt your idea and business plan.  Unexpected change is almost the only certainty in today’s business environment.  If your venture is going to succeed, you need to embrace the change that surrounds you instead of fighting against it.  In addition, you need to surround yourself with the right people.  For entrepreneurs, the “right people” are going to be those individuals who are good at the things that you are not good at.  Your human capital should complement your skill sets and fill any voids identified in your business planning process.  Ultimately, your venture needs to achieve a healthy balance between staying focused on its goals and being ready to adapt to sudden and progressive change in the market.

If your investment strategy for college involves building the foundation for your own business, you need to make sure you have the right investment tools.  Although every business is unique, the principles discussed above are proven cornerstones for successful entrepreneurial ventures.  Collegiate entrepreneurs who want to transform an idea into a successful career should integrate these principles into their existing or future undertakings.

To find out more about starting your own business or to gain guidance related to your venture, contact attorney Michael James at mjames@fraserlawfirm.com, 517-377-0823 or www.fraserlawfirm.com.  Michael James, a senior attorney at Fraser Trebilcock provides representation and counseling related to all facets of business enterprise and healthcare matters.

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