How to become an entrepreneur while still in college

You don’t have to worry about facing a tight job market after college if you know how to start your own business now. Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone, but if you like calling the shots and taking some chances it may pay off big time.

One successful entrepreneur, Mark Zuckerberg, started Facebook in his dorm room in 2004. (Credit: Business Insider)

One successful entrepreneur, Mark Zuckerberg, started Facebook in his dorm room in 2004. (Credit: Business Insider)

How to be an entrepreneur? Start off by looking at successful entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg, who started his business while attending Harvard. Let’s take a look at what you can do to start your business now.

Successful entrepreneurs

You may not be the next Mark Zuckerberg, but you still may be able to create a viable business for yourself while in school. In an October 20, 2012, article for, “Zuckerberg admits: If I wasn’t the CEO of Facebook, I’d be at Microsoft,” Christina Farr reveals some of the reality behind the founding of Facebook.

For one thing, a big part of Facebook’s success was in its timing. People were already enthusiastic about social sharing and Facebook took that to another level.

Although Zuckerberg eventually dropped out of college, he doesn’t recommend that others blindly follow his example.

“Still, the Facebook founder recommended that young entrepreneurs use their time in college to explore and develop new interests. He criticized Harvard for not encouraging innovation (this off-hand remark was met with boo’s from the audience), but admitted that this is slowly changing,” Farr said.

Reasons to become an entrepreneur

Why might you want to become an entrepreneur while you’re still in school? Don’t you have enough to do? Alexis Morgan offered some compelling reasons in her May 3, 2012, post for, “5 reasons you should start a business in college.”

The list of reasons to become an entrepreneur included:

  • companies will be more likely to hire you
  • you’ll learn upper management skills
  • you have less to lose
  • there are lots of free resources through your school
  • you have more free time now than you will after college

Morgan quoted Stephanie Kaplan co-founder of Her Campus, the top online magazine for college women.

“Starting a business while in college was less of a career risk since we didn’t have to leave another job in order to do it; instead, we just worked on our business on the side while still in school,” she said. “That gave us time to figure out whether it was really a viable career option for after we graduated.”

First steps to entrepreneurship

Any journey begins with the first step. Your first steps could include the suggestions provided by Deborah Sweeney in her January 29, 2013, article for, “9 Tips For College Freshmen Starting Up Their Own Business.”

Sweeney’s tips included:

  • take the right courses: After you decide what you want to do in your business, learn as much as you can on that topic. For example, if you want to run a retail shop, make sure that you learn about marketing and how to raise venture capital.
  • find a mentor: You can’t possibly know it all so find people who know more than you. Your school may even have a mentorship program.
  • don’t give away too much: If you sell part interest in your business as a way to raise capital be sure to retain a controlling interest.
  • don’t give up too soon

“If the business tanks or doesn’t prove to be successful, try again. Keep thinking of unmet needs and evaluate ways that life could be easier with products and services developed to meet those needs,” Sweeney advised.

SBA help for student startups

Don’t let student debt keep you from becoming an entrepreneur. The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers young entrepreneurs an income-based repayment plan to help you keep your Federal loan payments affordable with payment caps based on income and family size.

You can take advantage of the Income-based Repayment program (IBR) if you have Federal Direct Loans or Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) loans.

For a complete list of tips to help you become an entrepreneur be sure to check out “201 Tips to Start and Build Your Own Business, 1st Edition,” by Jason Miletsky available at

You’ll learn to deal with the variety of issues involved with starting and running your own business, including how to lay the foundation of your business, deal with finances, market your company, work with business partners, and find (and manage) the right employees.

Do you know of a fellow student (or yourself) who have become an entrepreneur while in school? Tell us about it in the comments.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *