by Adam Witty, Founder and CEO of Advantage | ForbesBooks and author of “Authority Marketing: How to Leverage 7 Pillars of Thought Leadership to Make Competition Irrelevant“
College students with an entrepreneurial spirit may be eager for the day they can leave the confines of their cramped dorm rooms, move into a spacious office and launch the business of their dreams.
But why wait?
There are plenty of examples of college students who were still living in their dorms when they started what became very successful businesses. Just to name a few: Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook; Michael Dell of Dell; Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy of Snapchat; and Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little of WordPress.
I know something about launching a business in the most meager surroundings. It wasn’t a dorm room, but I did start my now multimillion-dollar company in 2005 in a spare bedroom of my house just two years out of college.
Here are a few tips for college students who have been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug:
Find a mentor.
A good mentor, such as a professor or local business person, can provide valuable advice, help with networking and perhaps even be the inspiration behind the business you launch. My mentor was Pat Williams, a motivational speaker and senior vice president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic. Williams told me that every motivational speaker needs a book, but most don’t have one. In cases where speakers did have a book, it was often self-published and of poor quality.
It was Williams who suggested that I start a publishing company for people like him who could use the book as a marketing tool.
Think of yourself as a brand.
College students are well aware of such brands as Nike, Netflix, Apple and Starbucks, among many others. They recognize and maybe even trust these brands, and naturally will think in terms of the corporate brand for whatever business they want to launch. But beyond a company brand, it’s also valuable to promote your personal brand.
Regardless of what service or product you plan to offer, it’s important for you to build your visibility and credibility in your field. This is especially true when you’re going up against established businesses that have years or decades head start on you in terms of brand awareness. This may be a challenge for a college student, but by getting yourself and your name in front of as many people as possible, you will be on your way to building trust with your intended clientele.
Make use of social media.
If you’re worried about how to pay for next semester’s textbooks, it’s unlikely you have a massive marketing budget. What you do have, though, are social media accounts that cost you nothing. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram all can help you spread your message, build your authority and connect with potential customers or clients, Witty says.
Even before you begin, whether you’re starting your business in a dorm room or an office park, you will want to know how you will measure your success. What metrics will you use? Will you set as a goal a certain number of leads each month? A certain number of sales or new clients?
You have to know what success looks like and where you want to end up. If you don’t, how will you know you’re happy with the results?
Adam Witty is the Founder and CEO of Advantage | ForbesBooks, the authority marketing specialists. Working with business entrepreneurs and professionals to elevate their brands and grow their businesses through publishing, he has built the company into one of the largest business book publishers in America, serving over 1,000 members in 40 U.S. states and 13 countries. Adam is also a sought-after speaker, teacher, and consultant on marketing and business growth techniques for entrepreneurs and authors.