You’ve walked across the stage, received your diploma and left behind the halls of academia. You are now the proud owner of a degree, and it’s your moment to take on the world. But suppose your career ambitions aren’t suited for the 9 to 5 grind. What if your goals are more entrepreneurial in nature? What if you would rather create your own business than work for someone else?
As a brand new graduate, the opportunities and possibilities awaiting you are boundless, and the strategies below can help you harness that theoretical desire into a more concrete entrepreneurial venture.
Actively seek out a business mentor
Your first plan of action should be to find a mentor with experience in a relevant industry who can guide you through all of the inner-workings and advancement. Learning from a professional who has a track-record of success, and from someone who is willing to teach you how to achieve the same, can offer multiple benefits.
Helping you brainstorm, troubleshooting, offering unbiased feedback, referring potential clients and boosting your brand recognition are just a few objectives the expertise of a seasoned mentor can provide at any stage of business development.
Leverage your technological savvy
As a millennial, you are considered a “digital native,” meaning you were raised understanding how to operate mobile devices, connect with people through social media and navigate all corners of the internet.
Use that technological prowess to your advantage in order to expand the online presence of your fledgling business. Create an attractive and user-friendly website. Increase your brand’s awareness on social media. Engage with your target audience with a blog. If you have a product, take advantage of e-commerce platforms such as Etsy or Amazon. Being able to maximize technology makes your business competitive and marketable.
While being technologically savvy is important, face-to-face communication is a non-negotiable part of business ownership. In a world reliant on text messages and Facebook posts, this can often be intimidating to the millennial generation, but as an entrepreneur, it’s something you can’t afford not to practice. An effective, succinct and articulate mode of expression allows you to interact with clients, investors and the general public.
Regularly attend networking events
Similar to seeking out a mentor, building a professional network is crucial for the success and longevity of your startup because the more connections you form, the more potential customers and partnerships you will obtain.
There are many strategies for networking, but a simple method is to start with your established relationships, such as former classmates, professors or community leaders. Then, as you gain more confidence in the process, attend networking functions where you’ll meet fellow entrepreneurs from all walks of life, from those who run local businesses to global corporations.
Cultivate smart fiscal responsibility
Money management is something you might not have given much thought to as a college student, but launching and sustaining a business requires steady cash flow, which needs to be monitored responsibly.
If this is not your area of expertise, it’s time to educate yourself. Consider taking a course in financial planning that will teach you to function within a budget and avoid going into debt. Learn how to prepare for all expenses, how to regulate your startup’s cash flow, how to save for long-term objectives and how to structure a business model that adheres to these parameters. It’s also smart to outsource your taxes and bookkeeping to a qualified accountant.
Whether your passion is to launch an innovative tech company, a freelance writing business, a creative graphic design brand or a social justice nonprofit, the marketplace is hungry for new ideas. So why not yours?
As a recent graduate with an entrepreneurial spirit, don’t be afraid to take a chance. You might face setbacks, challenges, mistakes and even failures. But, if you’re committed and driven, you might also find success.