Don’t Overlook Self-Employment as a Career Option

College students are typically enrolled in majors that will set them up with a good job upon graduation. Often overlooked is the possibility that a graduate may enter into self-employment, either directly upon graduation, or shortly after.

It’s not easy to prepare for self-employment in college, but this is the time to do it. There’s more than a slight chance that you could start your own business and bypass the corporate ladder completely upon graduation.

The rise of self-employment

It’s probably true that more people will be self-employed at some point in their careers than in the past. Part of this has to do with the fact that jobs are being eliminated by technology and off-shoring of tasks, but it’s also being driven by the fact that there’s more opportunity for self-employment now.

As employers trim payrolls, there are more avenues for small businesses to fill the voids left by departing employees. This is creating business-to-business opportunities. The internet is also opening up the business world to the small operator (more on that later).

Self-employment instead of a part-time job

Many college students look for part-time jobs to earn some money while they’re in school. This is partially to pay for living expenses, and partly to keep a lid on student loans. It can be difficult to juggle a part-time job with a full-time course load however. Not only does a part-time job soak up time needed for class work and study, but it can also create a commuter problem if you don’t have a car.

Starting your own business while you’re in school could be a better solution. College students have started all kinds of businesses, including tutoring, moving furniture and various sales ventures. And since most college students are internet savvy, there are also opportunities in having your own blog, writing content for other sites or having an online store.

If the same effort that goes into a part-time job were instead applied to your own business venture, the results could be stunning. You may very well build a business that earns more money than a part-time job but doesn’t require you to leave your dorm room.

That “little” business you have in college could be something bigger

If you can start a business while you’re still in college, you’ll have a running start when you graduate. While other grads are busy looking for jobs, you’ll be busy building your business from a part-time venture into a full-time one. You won’t need a job, because you’ll have created your own. And if it’s your own, you can take it as far as you choose to.

Maybe you already have a college side business going–keep rolling with it! It may grow into your full-time career one day!

But there’s something more…self-employment is a hurdle. The main reason people never try to do it is that they’ve never cleared that hurdle. If you start a business while you’re still in college, you’ll have cleared it before you even enter the workforce.

Imagine the possibilities that will create? You’ll have none of the traditional fear that so many others have about starting a business because you’ll already have one. For you it will just be a matter of deciding which direction you want to take your business, and how far you want to go with it. You’ll have a huge lead over the others in your class.

Taking the right courses

It’s generally not possible to take a major in “self-employment”, but there are courses you can take that will help you if being an entrepreneur is in your future.

Marketing courses are a must. Any business you go into will require that you market your products, services and skills. It’s not enough to simply be able to deliver the goods to customers—you will first have to find and win over the customers you want to sell to. That will require marketing ability, which is a skill set all by itself. If possible, consider adding a marketing minor to your degree program. Courses in sales, advertising and internet marketing are especially beneficial for a would-be business owner.

Computer courses are another plus. You won’t necessarily need to be a computer expert in order to run your own business (unless your business will be in computers!) but you should have at least a general understanding of how and what computers can do. In addition, computer graphics and applications such as Excel and Power Point can be big advantages in both the marketing and managing of a small business.

The internet and self-employment

The same internet you grew up playing games on and chatting with your friends contains enormous income opportunities. Not only can you earn a direct living from the internet though activities like blogging or running an online store, but you can use the marketing power of the internet to assist you in any business you choose to take on.

The internet is a bonanza for a small business owner; consider some of the things it can do for you:

  • You can sell globally, instead of just in your immediate area
  • You can easily find products and services to sell
  • You can get help without having to hire employees
  • You can market your products or services for little or no money
  • You can set your small business up to look like a big one, and your customers won’t know the difference
  • You can start a business on a shoe string

If you need to earn some money but don’t have time to hold a part-time job, think seriously about starting your own business. Not only can it fit better with your school schedule, but it could very well be a job in waiting when you graduate. Good deal?

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Excellent post! You are right, most kids would never, ever consider “being their own boss” a career path right out of school, but they’re not giving themselves enough credit! If I’d known I’d end up working as a professional writer, I’d have taken more business classes, so I could know how to market and brand myself, as well as handle all the paperwork!

Great post…

Shout this from every rooftop… loudly… repeatedly.

Times done changed… the sooner young people change their approach, the better off they will be.

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