Ed - old college try

Millsaps College | Jackson |  Photo courtesy of Millsaps College

Millsaps College | Jackson | Photo courtesy of Millsaps College

The Old College Try

How to Start A Business While in College

by Aaron Vick, CDO Cicayda

Starting a new business can be a scary and intimidating endeavor. Starting a business in college can be an even scarier beast to tackle!

College is a great environment to be a part of when starting a business. Just because you're in college doesn't mean you have to postpone your dream of starting a business!

Setting up a new company in college has been done before and can be done by you. You might be asking yourself how you can start a business on a practical note. What are the nuts and bolts of starting a business?

Don't worry! I've put together a few things to keep in mind while setting up a new company in college.

Ask the Hard Questions

Just like starting anything else, you need to fully understand the reasoning behind why you're doing it. So take some time to reflect and ask yourself questions like:

  • Why do I want a start a business?
  • Can I balance your school work and my business and be successful?
  • What are my expectations for business and are they realistic?

Setting up a new company in college requires a lot of hard work so it's good to have those answers before you commit. Those are just a few of the questions you need to have thought through and have answers for before setting up a new company.

Next Step. Prioritize.

So you've asked yourself the hard questions and have given honest answers. If you've decided to move forward then you must outline your business plan. You can check out my business plan checklist on my website for free: https://aaronvick.com/complete-business-plan-checklist/.

Make sure this business plan overlays with your current school schedule in a way that allows you to give the ability to meet deadlines. Figure out how many hours per week you're willing to dedicate to furthering your business endeavors.

A great way to follow through with week-to-week/monthly planning is to invest in a planner. This is a great and tangible space to see where you're allocating your time.

Another aspect of prioritizing is figuring out what your short term and long-term goals are. Giving yourself deadlines for these goals will help you stay on track with your business endeavors.

Don't Forget About School

Starting a new business is a really exciting time. But don't let this excitement take away from focusing on your school work and lectures. In your planner, or however you keep track of your daily and monthly tasks, block out time to spend on your studies.

If you've got a few more semesters in your school career, opt to take courses that will directly benefit your business model.

Look into startup classes, business finance, and other business-related classes. It would also be worthwhile to take classes that give you more experience in the field you're trying to break into.

Want to design apparel? Take an apparel or textile classes. Want to develop a software? Take computer science classes. Make your college experience work to your business's benefit.

Networking Makes the Dream Work

An important aspect of starting a company, in college or out of college, requires an adequate amount of networking.

If you're in college, you have a leg up when it comes to networking. You are surrounded by teachers and resources that people outside of college don't have access to. Connect with the professors and administrators in your desired field and draw on their knowledge.

These people are professors and professionals for a reason and they have a ton of experience you could learn from. Set up office hours with these people and ask them all of your burning questions.

Consider reaching out to fellow students that you share interests and classes with. College is a great place to meet well-rounded, dedicated individuals that are more open to collaboration.
There are a lot of different roles within a company and you're not going to be able to do all of them by yourself. Find people with similar goals and interests that have different skills and approaches to problems. Having a well-rounded team in your company is absolutely essential to success.

Outside of your college-network, attend seminars and do research on the industry you're about to enter. Join local coworking space, city club, or incubator. Knowledge is power and the more research you do in your field, the better.

Get the Word Out

In the age of digital everything, having an adequate marketing plan is a top priority when embarking on starting a company. Think about all of the media platforms you currently use, what your target audience is and the most appropriate way to reach them.

A few good tools to use are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Establish a company brand. Do this by planning out a logo, mission statement and overall theme Create some quality content, or find someone who knows how to, and start promoting your upcoming business.

Even if you haven't officially launched, producing a quality media presence is a key way to get the word out and start familiarizing people with your work. In today's world, if a business doesn't have a modern and updated website, their credit goes out the window almost immediately.

Figure Out Your Finances

If you're in college and looking to start a business, finances can be a bit intimidating. Our Ultimate Startup Checklist can help out: https://aaronvick.com/ultimatestartupchecklist/.

Need a tip, take a look at your student email.

Do you have an ".edu" at the end of you email address? If so, there are loan options specifically for young college-aged entrepreneurs. Stop by your scholarship and financial aid offices. These are great resources when searching out grants and loans.

If you don't have an ".edu" at the end of your email, do ample research in business loans through your preferred bank. Have a thorough understanding of the interest rates and policies that surround different loans available.

Another way to find funding for your company is to reach out to potential investors. This would come through your networking and the people you've connected with over the years. Reach out to prominent people in your field and pitch the idea of pitching them your business idea.  Go create a campus wide fundraiser to get a few dollars from everyone and give them early access to your app or product.

Setting Up A New Company

Be sure to create a company structure whether you are solo or you are able to grab some friends and collaborate on the idea. Great teammates can share the workload and help spread the word.For a few more tips be sure to check out Startup DIY.

There you have it. A few tips and tricks that are necessary to start up a new company and position yourself in a place for growth.

Starting a business is a really exciting time and being in college gives you a certain advantage. Congratulations on beginning this next step in your career!


Aaron Vick is the Chief Strategy Officer of Cicayda, a legal software company making sense of the discovery process by fully understand the data using real-time actionable analysis, immediate complex search results, and complex managed review workflows.

LinkedIn | Cicayda