You’re finally about to graduate! There’s just one problem: While you could spend the next several years climbing the corporate ladder, you also have a big idea you think might be more rewarding.
If you’re dreaming of becoming the next business success story post-graduation, here are some areas to consider before you become your own boss.
1. Test your business idea
Don’t invest in printing business cards or setting up a website until you test your idea with your target market somehow. You might think your idea is brilliant, but soliciting feedback from your target customers can help you confirm if there’s a market for your product or service. Poll friends, or look into how similar businesses fared — no idea is too out there to test.
This background research may also help you figure out how to price your services as well as the cost of running your business.
2. Ask for advice
Reach out to other business owners you know to get their advice or ask for their mentorship. Don’t know anyone who owns their own business? Connect with a business development center in your city, or look for programs aimed at helping young people start their businesses like Junior Achievement, and Futurpreneur Canada.
Also, look for networking opportunities with business owners or talks by fellow entrepreneurs. Meetup is a great place to find these types of events, but also look into the events held by your local chamber of commerce, co-working hubs, or other business associations in your city. Having a team of advisors and peers will help you feel more confident about taking the business ownership plunge.
3. Have a financial plan
Launching your own business can be expensive. Have an emergency fund to cover 3- to 6-months-worth of expenses in case you need it. Consider getting a part-time job to help supplement your income and ensure a steady cash flow while you grow your business. This can be especially important if you have student loans.
While you might be tempted to take out a new loan as part of your financial plan, this can be difficult if you haven’t established a credit history or your credit score is low. If you are able to borrow money, make sure you don’t take on too much debt because your personal credit can be affected if you default on it.
Your financial plan could also include investors — whether they be family who support your dream or angel investors in your community. The only thing to watch out for is how much of your company’s equity you give up. You don’t want to be left with the smallest piece of the pie.
4. Make a business plan
If you want to be a boss, you know you have to act like one and that means coming up with a plan for your business. A good business plan will help you run your business as it covers elements like financial goals and how you plan to achieve them, market analysis, a marketing plan, and benchmarks for your company. Developing a business plan will help you decide whether starting a business is right for you, and if so, how to run your company.
Your next steps
While you might end up putting your heart and soul into starting a company, succeeding in business isn’t 100% in your control. You might become the next Mark Zuckerberg, or you might need to keep your side hustle. It’s important to have an idea of what to do if you’re a runaway success, as well as what you’ll do if it doesn’t work out.
Either way, considering your next steps before you launch your company can help you make better decisions, and make you feel more confident about becoming your own boss.