Business Tips for Entrepreneurial College Grads

Written by Darryl Johnson

Graduating college is one of your most happiest times of your life, but at the same time it can be the most stressful, especially if you don’t have a clear idea on what it is you want to do. Millennials aren’t typically “hype” into working for someone; we graduate college with one thought in our minds and that is to be our “own boss”. Some might say that it’s safer to take an entry-level job at a corporation and build experience with that direction. That approach works if your skills are not top-notch, in which the steadiness of a corporate salary increases your earnings potential. But let’s be real! Most entry-level jobs are not well paid and statistics show that your 20s is highly predictive of your lifetime earnings. Another thing to keep in mind is understanding the market for independent work favors specialization. 

The best way to go about entering the entrepreneurial world is finding yourself a niche that excites you so that you can develop top level skills to become a master of your market. If you can find an intersection between your passion and market demand, your entrepreneurial ventures will be very successful throughout your career. In order to start a successful well-run business there are a few steps you should consider before jumping head first into the entrepreneurial lifestyle. 

Identify your Motivation

This is important to the success of your business. You want to make sure that you’re extremely passionate about your endeavor. You’ll face all different types of hardships and your passion will keep you going throughout those various obstacles you go through.  One of the most powerful ways to support your passion is with proper planning. There’s a long list of different planning ideas that you could use when planning for a small business. The first fundamental planning step is creating a business plan and model, which is a must-have for a small business entity. Another key component in the planning process of your business is creating a well thought out marketing plan. Your marketing plan should outline your objectives, your detailed target market, what you know about your target, how you plan to reach them, your marketing budget and specific milestones that will help you measure your success.

Do Research

The research factor for small business tends to get overlooked, but I can’t stress the importance of this element when starting a small business. In order for your business to grow and improve, effective research has to be conducted on your core target market and also on any competition, so you can know the do’s and don’t of the market. Thorough research can be used to make important business decisions. Much of the information is qualitative and measures market trends such as sales growth and profitability, as well as competitive practices. Take the time to thoroughly study all the elements that go into establishing your new business. 

Find Mentors

As college graduates, we tend to think we have everything figured out, but as we embark on a new endeavor, it is also a  new challenge. The best way to counter this challenge is finding someone who’s been or has had a business in the field that you wish to embark on. Having mentors is a very important factor in the success of your business. They can refer you to a job, connect you with potential clients, provide honest and unbiased advice and offer support during challenging times. You’d be able to ask them about topics that seem very daunting, ask questions that feel amateurish, discuss pricing candidly, and share your wildest dreams for your business.

Constantly Network

Your ability to network can determine the success or failure of your business making strong network connections. One way to build this network is to make connections as often as possible and with as many people as you can. A key component in networking with people is learning how to converse about things relative for your business. While building your network, don't ignore the potential power of your existing relationships. Sometimes we’ll have people right in our corner looking to be that moral support that we need, but for some reason we will not allow ourselves to use those resources. The biggest mistake new graduates can make in their enthusiasm to get a venture off the ground is to overlook the web of classmates, family, neighbors, past employers and community leaders that has shaped their lives. There are tons of different social media platforms you can use also as tools for networking as well.  

Understand That “Failure” is Part of the Process

About 50 percent of small businesses fail by their fifth year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Don’t ever beat yourself about any failures or obstacles that you encounter on your journey of becoming an entrepreneur. If you're starting a business, remember that companies need to take risks to grow, and sometimes these risks lead to failure. Good judgment should always be exercised, but, assuming it is, failures should be viewed as teachable moments. Recognizing that failure is often stigmatized in society and usually looked as a bad thing. Recent grads who want to build a business must push past these confining notions of what it means to be successful. One way to try to avoid failure is by strategizing. Having a master plan about how you want to go about things and how you’ll handle situations that your are faced with will go a long way in the success of your business.