10 Tips on Starting a Business While in School from Someone Who’s Done It

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Interested in launching your own business but still finishing your degree? It may seem daunting, but not impossible.

In January, as a fourth-year entrepreneurship and strategy student at Ted Rogers School of Management, I launched Mybumper, an affordable iPhone6 battery charger with three TRSM graduates.

1. Find your passion.

Entrepreneurs live and breathe their work. In other words, they are passionate about their business. Before you embark on a new venture, you need to find out what your “raison d’etre” is. There are many tools online that you can use to assess your personal goals so find the one that’s right for you to help to turn that passion into a successful business.

2. Come up with a great business idea.

Do you ever come across a new product or service and think, “Why didn’t I think of that?” People often come up with great ideas all the time, and it’s usually when they’re trying to solve a problem they’re having. Make a habit of jotting down your ideas the minute you think about them so you can come back at a later time to expand on your idea to test its viability. Chances are, others may have the same need so there’s your business opportunity.

3. Conduct an industry analysis.

Once you’ve come up with a solid idea for a new service or product, conduct a thorough competitive analysis to find out if another company or service already exists. If they do exist, research their manufacturers and designers that they used to develop the product. Try to think about what its unique selling features that would set your product or service apart from your competitors.

4. Research existing experts in the industry.

What better way to learn from your competitors than going to the top? Find out who the chief executive officer of these companies are and read any materials they have published to learn how their built their companies. Attend events where they are speaking so you’re able to glean as much industry knowledge as possible.

5. Share your idea with others.

If you talk to your friends and family about your business idea, they may have some sound advice that can make you realize your idea is a great one or may lead you to an even better one. This gives you an opportunity to test your assumptions out before putting more effort into an idea that may not work.

6. Leverage all resources your university has to offer.

Do some research to see what resources your university has for you. At Ryerson, there is a thriving entrepreneur eco-system, from Ted Rogers School of Management’s Entrepreneurship and Strategy degree program to resources such as Start Up School, the Launch Zone and the DMZ. Getting involved with student groups such as TRSM’s entrepreneur-focused Enactus group is another great way to connect with like-minded students to shop your ideas around for helpful feedback.

7. Start your day early.

Try to set your alarm an hour earlier to start your day off doing activities you enjoy. This may include reading your favourite blog post, working out at the gym or catching up on some last- minute tasks you weren’t able to finish the night before. You will find that an earlier start to the day allows you to accomplish all your goals faster allowing you some time for yourself or to spend with friends after you’ve finished all your tasks.

8. Network and make connections.

Attending university means you are surrounded by a large group of like-minded individuals who may have the skills you lack in starting business simply because you fear the unknown. By making connections within your community, you would be surprised in who are interested in starting a business venture with you.

9. Combine your business into a class assignment.

If you are taking a business course that has a class assignment component, speak to your professor about submitting your business plan as an assignment.  You will not only save time by cutting down on extra tasks to complete, you’ll find more value in it. Your professor can also provide you with constructive feedback that will help fine-tune your business plan.

10. Stay positive.

Staying positive will not only keep you motivated, it allows you to get through the tough times with a smile on your face making it that much easier to stay up late studying or finishing up an assignment you may have left to the last minute. It will also keep your stress levels down so you can complete any task to your full potential!

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