How Do I Start This Business Thing?

September 13, 2011-

I’m in college, don’t have much money, but I want to start a business.  I am a very good learner and have a variety of interests.

The above question was posted on the Homepreneurs Twitter site in the last 24 hours by AW in South Carolina.

Congratulations on working on a college degree.  That has its own challenges, much like starting a business.

I have a few thoughts for you, AW, and others in similar situations.  Your first priority should be to finish your education; many doors will open with that piece of paper.  I would also check at your college and see if a young entrepreneurs group or club exists.  If not, start one!  More minds can identify opportunities and come up with ideas.  Limit the group size; too many people is counter-productive.

On starting a business: anyone interested in a business needs to take an inventory of skills and experience.  Maybe you are technical person or can sell anything.  Once you’ve identified strengths, determining what business to start will follow.

Based on your skills, keep your eyes open for opportunities.  Examples: If you are technical, start a website development business.  Start small – local business, churches, charities – and charge a modest amount.  Build up your portfolio and skills before you go bigger.  If you are a sales kinda person, how about organizing a community garage sale?  Everyone has stuff they want to get rid of.  Charge 5-10% of the sales cost for your time and organization.  You can also work with eBay this way too.  Refer to this post for eBay selling tips.

Some key things to keep in mind:

Don’t expect to make big money right away – it can happen, but in very rare situations.

Be humble.  If collecting trash or cleaning windows is the only option, be willing to do it.

Focus on your customer service.  If you tell a client the project will be done Wednesday at 6, be early if possible and complete.

Keep good records.  This is the ultimate CYA.  If you are designing a website, get the specs in writing and have the client sign off.  If you are selling or mowing lawns, make sure everyone understands what the deliverable is and for how much.

It is never easy getting started.  Many times you will need to create opportunities for yourself.  Keep your eyes open, post notes in public places, and ask people.  Teachers and the college environment can be quite helpful, especially if a student shows interest.

Good luck and please keep us updated!

By Dion Shaw

Dion Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs.

Homepreneurs.  New Day.  New Opportunity.