The first year after graduation might be a defining moment in your career growth. What will you do? Will you start hunting for entry positions and making slow progress? Or will you give your big idea a chance and start your own business?
If you have a big idea and you know it would work in this very moment, you should go for it.
Did you know that Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors, launched his first company (Zip2 Corporation) two days after he dropped out of Stanford’s program for a Ph.D. in physics? Mexico’s richest man Carlos Slim became a stockbroker right after college, and he started the holding company Inversora Bursátil at age 25. Mark Zuckerberg didn’t even wait to graduate from Harvard to bring his idea to life. He started Facebook out of a dorm room.
These are all exceptional examples. But what makes you think you’re less than exceptional? Maybe you won’t start a multimillion-dollar business. Maybe it will be a humble start, or maybe it will fail. The point is in trying. That’s how you learn the biggest lessons on your career path. And guess what: maybe it will be huge!
On a Diploma and a Dream: How to Start a Business After Graduation
I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.
– Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon
Now, let’s see: what’s the proper way to start a business right after graduation? You have zero experience. You don’t know how businesses work in practice. That’s why you have a lot of learning to do before you start. We’ll give you the tips you need.
Start building your network
You don’t just get an idea and start a company the very next day. There are few crucial steps of preparation, and building a strong network is one of them. Your network can consist of a few elements:
- Your support system. Chances are, you already have it. Your family and friends will give you confidence and stimuli to carry on.
- Mentors. Contact people who’ve already been down the business road before. You surely know someone who knows someone. Learning from reading textbooks and online materials is okay. Listening to actual experience is much better.
- Connections in the industry. These are the ones you get through LinkedIn. It’s important to build relationships in the industry you want to be part of. Take it a step further: attend networking events, where you’ll meet local business owners. Online workshops are also great, since most of them allow the members to chat with each other.
It pays to know the right people. Without a strong network, you’ll be alone in a sea full of sharks.
Research the market
How does your idea compare to the competition? Don’t get this wrong: you shouldn’t compare yourself to people who aren’t on this path. Some of your former classmates already have great jobs. You shouldn’t be disappointed about that. As a future entrepreneur, you should never be jealous of other people’s success. You should focus on your own.
When we mention comparisons, we focus on your idea. Is there a similar thing on the market? How does the target audience react to that product or service? How can you give them something better?
Research the competition and the needs of your audience. Find the most popular brands in your category and analyze them from several angles:
- What do the websites look like?
- How do they handle their social media campaigns?
- Can you notice signs of their SEO strategy?
Notice how they do everything and think of ways to be better than them!
Don’t forget to analyze the audience, too! Quora is a great source of information. You can see the questions they ask and the problems they have. Then, you’ll only need to think of a way to meet those needs in a way that puts you ahead of the competition.
Crystallize your idea in a business plan
If you’re thinking about starting your own business, you already have an idea, right? You’ve been thinking about it all throughout your studies. If you’re still not sure what kind of business you’d like to start, it’s best to wait and start looking for jobs. When you have a clear idea, you can start.
Your idea may be great, but it won’t be good enough without a proper plan. You absolutely need a detailed business plan that will set the track of development. Did you take a course that taught you how to develop business plans? If that was the case, you have a great advantage: you can create your own business plan.
If you didn’t take such a course, you can always find one online. Coursera is an excellent source of high-quality courses that prepare you for starting your own business.
If you don’t like spending time learning how to develop a business plan, you can always hire an expert to craft it for you. See? There’s always a solution.
Get the money!
This is the hard part. Your business plan shows how much money you’ll need to start the business and keep it going. Do you have that money?
If not, you have a problem. Banks won’t give loans until you show you’ve started making money and gaining traction. The purpose of a bank loan is to help you earn even more.
If you’re wondering where and how to get the money, crowdfunding may be the right answer. If you firmly believe in the potential of your idea, you can share your enthusiasm with others. You’ll be surprised to see how many people will be willing to support you on this journey.
There you go; those simple tips should get you thinking about that idea in a more serious way. Maybe it won’t be that attractive a few years from now. Why waste its potential? Give it a chance while you’re still young and enthusiastic!