Women in business have never gotten the recognition they deserve. Most people think of a white man when they hear CEO or founder of a business, but that doesn’t make sense because women have everything a man does to be a CEO, maybe even more.
You can face many obstacles when starting a business, especially as a college student: no money, limited resources, and barely any experience. But nowadays, we have more resources than we may think — read on to learn how to start a business as college students in six steps.
1. find a problem that’s worth solving
The first step in starting a business is finding a problem in an industry that you feel needs to be solved; something that is missing, something that has never been done. Creating a product or service that has already been created will make it harder for you to sell; there are more reliable businesses out there than you if you just copy from another business. Your business needs to be unique. Let me give you an example so you can get an idea: Onewith Swim is a new swimwear brand that makes swimwear for women that fits like no-show underwear. The founder, Hayley Segar, found a problem in women’s swimsuits: they dig into your skin, they are unflattering, and take away your body figure. She said, “I just want something that fits like my raw-cut underwear,” and many women feel the same way. Segar took a swimwear industry problem and decided to solve something no other business chose to solve. Now it’s your turn: think of an idea, consider a problem you or a friend face daily, and fix it!
2. Mood Board & Vision Board
Now that you have your idea, you have to follow through! However, it’s hard to stick with something when you have no money or motivation. An idea from many entrepreneurs out there: create a mood board of precisely what you think your product, service, and brand should look like. What’s the color scheme? What’s the vibe you’re going for? Canva will be your best friend, not only for your mood board but for the designs and social media posts you will create in the future. Trust me, when you get into something and have a mood board or vision board, you are motivated to make your vision a reality.
3. Find a Free mentor through sba
No matter your state, The U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) is here to help you! The SBA has so many resources for you to start up your own business. They give you an in-depth 10-step guide to starting a business. They have the resources to plan your business, launch it, manage it, and grow it. The SBA will be there for you from beginning to end. If you are committed to your idea, apply for a mentor through the SBA site. But if you are not at the step in planning your business with a mentor, the SBA has many guides and learning platforms that you can read on their website to get a firm idea of how you are going to bring your idea to life.
4. Write a Business Plan
Writing a business plan can be complicated, but it can always be updated and modified, so start with a simple draft. If you want a mentor, they will probably want you to create a business plan to see that you are committed to your idea and want to move forward with it. Again, SBA is on your side, as it gives you a step-by-step process on how to create a great business plan: it starts with a summary and description of your business idea, then goes on to what product or service you want to invest in, along with marketing, financing, and funding plans you may have in the future. Don’t get scared by the business plan because it’s long; it’s just to ensure your idea is in one place and shows how you can execute it.
5. Find Like-Minded Entrepreneurs
Find people with the same motivation as you! Everyone knows that the people around you influence who you are. I’m not telling you to only have friends who want to be entrepreneurs; just find a couple of people who relate to what you’re doing. Join a club or organization and meet other entrepreneurs, or even search on social media for people that are starting new businesses too. Finding peers with the same mindset will only give you more motivation and a will to do better in your business.
6. But I dON’t have money!
Who really has money as a college student to invest? There are many options to fund your business. Applying to pitches is the best bet — pitching your idea like you’re on Shark Tank to investors. But even if you are not ready for investors, many colleges and organizations have opportunities to win funding by just pitching your idea! SBA has many resources, but they mainly list loans that you may not want to invest in at the beginning of your journey. Self-funding is the best way to start your business, so if you can, start saving so you can invest your own money; if not, research pitch nights at your college or talk to someone in the business school, as they will most definitely have resources for you!
Starting a business can be hard, especially when you are a woman in college — but let’s not let that stop you from pursuing your dreams. You can start a business in a few simple steps; you just have to be motivated to do so!