Here is something that will not surprise you: someone willing to improve his knowledge and skills in order to start his own entreprise might want to join an entrepreneurship school. This type of institutions is more and more common, and even conventional universities now offer entrepreneurship programs from the undergraduate certificate through doctoral levels.
That being said, don’t kid yourself into believing that simply signing up for an entrepreneurship program and attending classes will be enough to turn you into the next big thing. Learning the fundamental of business (accounting, management and marketing) is essential for a soon-to-be entrepreneur, as is gaining skills like selling your ideas to potential investors and numbers crunching, for example. But let’s focus on the matter at hand and discuss what you should consider if you’re going to an entrepreneurship school with the goal to start your own business.
Forget The Easy A’s, Think Long Term
Every student that doesn’t live under a rock knows that some classes are “easy A’s”, but you must think beyond your GPA, especially if your goal is to prepare yourself to start a business and not to impress an employer. Look proactively for courses that match with your objectives and take them. Accounting and finance classes are absolutely non negotiable, and for obvious reasons: if you wish to start your own business and stay in business more than a fiscal year, you need to have a solid understanding of how money work, period.
Nowadays, sales and marketing courses usually cover both traditional and online techniques, and you want to get a working knowledge in these areas too. Look also for classes focusing on employee management, including recruiting and training workers, and take a least one class designed to teach student how to draft a business plan.
Innovation Is Something You Need to Learn
Having ideas is within everyone’s reach. Translating said ideas into products, services or processes is a different thing altogether, and that’s what separates dreamers from actual entrepreneurs. If you want to be part of the latter, you need to learn how to brainstorm ideas for new businesses, as well as how to identify potentially successful business opportunities. A class in innovation can help strengthen your critical thinking and assessment skills, which are both vital abilities for an entrepreneur.
The Time to Network Is Now
The biggest thing that people get wrong about networking is the timing: you don’t build a network when you need connections, you build one before you need it. You don’t have to wait until you’re really looking for investors to try and make some new friends and contacts. Build these relationships over time, while you’re still in school. Most professional associations offer advantageous membership rates for students, and you should also take full advantage of presentations made by professionals currently on the job market and whose careers seem related to your goals. Now is not the time to be shy. Listen and ask relevant questions.
Furthermore, try to be noticed by your professors and your fellow students that may well become future business partners. Look for any opportunity to work on and get involved in special projects. Get involved in efforts that can improve your presence and your reach. The more visibility you have, the more likely it will be that people will think of you when an opportunity arises.
Get a Practical Experience
Books and classes can only do so much for you, especially if you want to go solo straight out of school. In this case, there’s nothing better than really doing a thing in order to increase your level understanding of the way said thing actually work for real. One of the best way to get a practical experience before finishing school is through internships. Some of them pay a little something, while others are just worth their credits and field training you’ll gain.
Behave Like a Professional If You Want to Be Treated Like One
The stereotype of the college student wearing a hoodie, torn up jeans and sneakers is cute, but take yourself seriously if you want to be treated accordingly. Without overdoing it, dress to impress, especially during networking events. Plus, you should make business cards and be ready to give them. Also, start drafting or upgrading your resume like now.
Don’t Neglect Funding Opportunities
Entrepreneurship programs that offer funds to start new business ventures are not unheard of. Check thoroughly your university website and talk to the right person at the right time, you may be shocked to discover a not-so-secret pot of gold that could help you get started.
If you really want to start your own business and choose to go to university before, don’t waste this opportunity by going to your classes on cruise control: make the most of this experience that can be highly rewarding for those to know what to do and where to look at.