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12 Lessons I Learned From Starting A Business In College

7 Mins read

Starting A digital business in college was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. No, I didn’t make a million dollars before graduation. I did, however, learn some vital lessons throughout my entrepreneurship journey while in school full-time. Below I have listed 12 lessons I learned from starting a digital business in college. 

1. You Can’t Do Everything Yourself

When I first started my business, I made the mistake of spreading myself too thin. I tried to be the Founder, C.E.O., C.F.O., Graphic Designer, Writer, Editor, and still maintain good grades. As you would imagine, most of my work was sub-par. Once I started to build a team, then my business really started to take off. 

In a couple of months of having team members, I had accomplished more than the two years I spent running the business by myself. Building a team is one of the most important business lessons you can learn. No one can do it alone. 

2. Failure Isn’t A Bad Thing 

Failure is perceived to be a bad thing that you must avoid at all costs. I learned that it doesn’t matter how much thought, money, or time you put into an idea or your business, at some point, you will experience failure. When you decide that you want to become an entrepreneur/business owner, you are essentially signing up for failure. 

What does that mean?

As an entrepreneur, most of your ideas or strategies will not go according to plan, which is another form of failure. What separates successful businesses from failed businesses is how the business owner reacts to their initial plan falling apart. 

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If you are a person that shuts down when something doesn’t go your way then starting a business, will just be a waste of money. 

3. Things Will Cost Twice As Much & Will Take Double The Time 

As a first-time entrepreneur, I severely underestimated the cost of starting and running a business. That’s because I broke one of the entrepreneur’s commandments which is “whatever you think it will cost to start and run your business, double it”. As a college student, I didn’t have access to thousands of dollars at a moment’s notice. This forced me to become creative with how I solve problems deal with unexpected events. It doesn’t matter how many books, blogs, videos, or e-courses you buy, you will underestimate the financial cost of starting and running a business. 

Another component I underestimated was the time it would take to build a digital business that is actually profitable. Many “gurus” claim that you can create a business that generates a 100k a month in a couple of months without a substantial investment. This is utterly false unless you a teacher/mentor helping you step-by-step! If you are looking for a get-rich-quick scheme, the internet is not the best place to look. 

4. Knowing Your Numbers

Keeping track of your metrics (revenue, expense, conversion rate) is very important to longevity in business. As a start-up entrepreneur, one of your many jobs is to keep up with the finances of your business. It doesn’t matter if you run a blog, Shopify store, Youtuber, or Amazon F.B.A. you need to know your numbers. Don’t make the mistake I made and not keep an accurate record of how much you are spending. Every successful business owner knows their numbers. You can update your numbers daily (recommended), weekly, or monthly. 

Below I have listed some key metrics that you should know:

  • Revenue: Total Sales 
  • Expenses (Cost Per Goods Sold): How much did you spend? 
  • Fixed Cost: How much you have to pay every month 
  • Profits(Margin): How much did you gain after paying all your expenses (Revenue (-) Expenses)
  • Cost Per Customer: How much am I paying for each customer?
  • Cost Per Acquisition: How much are you paying for a lead (e-mail or phone number)?
  • Conversion Rate: What percentage of visitors do you turn into customers? (# of conversions divided by the total number of visitors)

5. Consistency Is Difficult

Staying consistent is one of the hardest things to do in life. Planning a goal to start a business, workout, meditate, or read is the easy part. Turning those goals into action, however, is another story. That’s why New Year’s resolutions never really workout. 

Going to the gym consistently for 6 months is not an easy task. Developing a habit of consistency will literally propel you to success. 

6. Paying For Courses Outside Of Academia Is Important  

One of the things I regret not doing in college was buying e-courses. Instead of learning from someone who had already been successful with blogging, I made a lot of mistakes that could’ve been avoided. 

However, you want to make money online; there’s a course for you to learn. Yes, courses cost money, but I guarantee you that you will spend more money making mistakes than the actual cost of the course. Whether you want to learn how to dropship with Shopify or learn how to make money blogging, there’s a course out there for you!

7. Entrepreneur = Problem Solving 

One essential skill that all entrepreneurs need to have is problem-solving. As a business owner, you are paid to solve problems. Every business has its own set of unique problems, but there are some problems most businesses will face. Below I have included some of the problems I faced when I first launched my digital business.

  1. Financing: Having enough start-up capital to lose money the couple months of operation.  
  2. Monetizing my blog post
  3. Not knowing how to advertise online
  4. Issues with consistency and quality content 
  5. A customer wanted to cancel their order after it has been shipped out

These are just a couple of problems that I faced when I first started my business. 

8. Learning From Too Many People At Once Is A Bad Thing 

Thanks to the internet, finding information about a wide variety of topics is easier than ever. This is a double-edged sword because you can be overloaded with too much information. 

When I began researching “How To Make Money Online”, I was pulled into so many different directions. This caused me to delay my decision because I didn’t know which to choose. 

When I finally choose Blogging, I hit another roadblock because I didn’t know which monetization strategy to adopt. There are literally hundreds of ways to monetize a blog, and I researched all of them. 

Some gurus would tell me to put ads on my site, and others would say to me, not to advertisements on my website. I was learning from too many people, and they pulled me in a hundred different directions. The result, my blog didn’t make any money for the first two years. 

The truth is, all the methods work! You just have to decide which one is more conducive to your business. Learning from no more than two people will help you launch and grow your business without confusion.

9. Time Is The Number 1 Resource For Entrepreneurs 

One thing being a College Entrepreneur taught me is, that time is the most valuable resource. When you are wasting your time attending every party on campus from Thursday- Sunday, you are wasting valuable time that could be spent monetizing your life. One regret I have is not allocating my time correctly in college. 

As a college student, you have many different priorities, so if you want to start a business, your time management skills need to be on point.  

The more time you dedicate to your business in college, the more lucrative it will be when you graduate. Imagine having the option to decide whether or not you want a job or you just want to scale your digital business. That can become a reality! You just have to manage your time correctly, which is easier said than done. 

10. Creating The Next Facebook Is The Wrong Target

Mark Zuckerburg, the man who changed the way the world communicated, is a legendary college entrepreneur. As you may know, he founded Facebook while attending school at Howard. He went on to become one of the world’s wealthiest people with an estimated net worth of 68 Billion Dollars a couple years after dropping out.

I hate to break it to you, but the odds of you starting a business in college and becoming the next Mark Zuckerburg right after college isn’t in your favor. Creating the next Facebook should not be your goal as a college entrepreneur. 

Instead, you should target generating your first $5,000 in sales or income. Learning about different business models and finding digital mentors. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to become the next Mark Zuckerburg. Instead, become the new successful entrepreneur. 

11. Networking Is The Fastest Growth Hack 

When I first started my digital business in college, I had the misconception that since it was a blog, I didn’t have to network. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It doesn’t matter if you have a brick and mortar store or a blog you still have to network. 

With so much competition in the digital world of business, you will not succeed without networking. If you want to scale your digital at a fast past without a large budget, start networking. 

12. Patience Is The Key

If you expect to build a digital business that generates 10k a month without any prior knowledge, experience, or a large budget, you can forget it. If you don’t want to buy e-courses and you only have $300-$400 to start you must be patient. There’s a learning curve when you start a new business, and that’s no different with digital business. Not having patience is the second reason why most entrepreneurs fail(The 1st being not having enough money). Their expectations are way too high.

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