College is an excellent time to run a business. This period gives you access to resources like research tools and professors readily available to offer advice and expertise, and a lot of free time if the course load is effectively managed. The important tips on growing and maintaining a business while still in college are:
Get someone to answer business calls when you attend classes.
It is not good business for a client to call and not get an answer during standard business hours. From your perspective, it is not feasible to run out of the class the moment you see your mobile screen light up. Tackle this problem by signing up for an answering service. They charge by the minute and turn out to be quite effective at the end of the day. More importantly, you gain crucial credibility in the eyes of your customers when they hear a number of people answering your phone number.
Use email to maximum advantage.
Buy a smartphone and configure the email account of your business on the phone so that you can quickly respond to a client’s emails anywhere and at any time. This will help you to send quick replies irrespective of where you are – in the library, the cafeteria or even when you are out having a fun time with your classmates. A quick response is a great way to improve relations with clients and it displays your dedication to the work at hand.
Dedicate a few hours of your life each day to your business.
If you want to get the maximum work done, commit a few hours to the business, as you do for academics. It is much more efficient that way. Time management and scheduling are the two principle pillars of balancing life as both, a businessperson and a student.
Be ready to answer calls early in the morning.
This is especially true if you are running a business on a virtual platform, such as the internet, and you have clients or customers across borders. Clients (or potential clients) may call you at a time they find convenient. Do answer calls as there is no point in sleeping through what could be the most profitable part of your day.
Be organised. Always!
Clients may call you when you are walking on the street or on a public bus and demand to know your shipping quotes . Therefore it is essential to always have a notepad and pen handy to write down vital points made during the conversation. The notes made during a business discussion must also be organised in an orderly manner, which will help to find a particular document when required from a pile of similar correspondence. It will be very helpful if you design your own system to store information and train yourself to follow that strategy at all times of the day, even if you are tired.
Do not forget the essentials.
Some days or weeks and even months are extremely hectic. Days pass by in a whiff, crammed with examinations or preparatory studies. It is very easy to forget about the business at this point in time. But it is essential to take some time off to make sure that the business runs smoothly. Bills must be paid, demanding customers must be satisfied and all other aspects of your business must be looked after. If you omit to look after the crucial part of the business, you will begin to lose important future contracts. You must be responsible for what you build.
There is no harm if customers know that you’re in college.
Suppliers will be greatly impressed when they realise that you have the ability to run a company and attend college at the same time. The opinion of customers may be different on this issue, but do tell the truth if you are asked. Most customers tend to look beyond the stereotype of “college kid” and will not hesitate to give you their orders.
Keep overheads to a minimum.
Do keep the fixed expenses as low as possible. This will save you from worrying about how to pay business bills every month. In case you are managing a distribution company, try to ensure that your suppliers will ship directly to the customer. This method means that you do not have to worry about any inventory or the warehousing costs.
Do not hire or partner with friends.
It is very unwise to mix money and friends. Remember that there can be a time when you may have to discipline them. It is also extremely expensive to hire someone. If you do take in a partner, then the earnings from the business will be split, thus making the partnership less and less attractive with the passage of time. This becomes acute when the business is in slow growth. Do consider all the pros and cons before you accept any kind of help.
There is no need to follow the trend.
Many of your friends in college will apply for internships and visit job fairs to further their career. If your passion is business, then you can tread on a different path. It is always better to follow a dream than to chase the crowd.
There is no greater satisfaction than starting a business and watching it sail through the highs and lows. It is best to move slowly and steadily through the many successes and failures of running a business.