Home > 2013 > Personal Finance

How to Start a Business After College

Advertiser Disclosure Comments 0 Comments

The job search after graduation can get frustrating. In a market where 44% of college graduates are unemployed or underemployed (according to a June report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York), finding any work can be hard, let alone that perfect job you dreamed of as you were handed your diploma.

This has led some recent graduates to leave the job search entirely, and create not only their own job, but their own company too. Perhaps inspired by Mark Zuckerburg’s billion-dollar dorm room project, the millennial startup revolution is happening, and for some, the payoff is great. For others, the entrepreneurial road leads to disappointment. But before you set out to be your own boss, you have to know what you’re getting yourself into, so here are some things you need to consider if you’re thinking about forging your own path.

1. Think before you act.

The absolute first thing you should do is weigh your options, and take a good look at your motivations and working style. Assess your commitment, your passion, your desires and your means. If you have a mountain of student debt and little capital, perhaps the safer option is more stable employment until you have sufficient funding.

You also need to look at your motivation and drive. If you’re starting a business just to get rich, or so you don’t have to answer to a boss, you might want to rethink your plan. But if you have an idea that you’re passionate about, willing to work night and day to make it a reality, then maybe it’s time you give yourself a chance.

2. Prepare yourself for hard work.

If you have that passion and drive, be sure that you’re readying yourself for some of the hardest, loneliest work of your career. Not only will you be working some of the longest days you ever have, but it’s all self-motivated and solitary. You also have to be willing to do every last detail to make your business work, from brainstorming to advertising to handling finances to taking out the trash. And all that work sees payoffs late—the startup world is one of delayed gratification, if any at all. You need to always believe strongly in your vision and work every minute to make it a reality.

3. Youth is innovation.

That being said, if you can handle the hard work and you have the passion for your idea, being young provides great advantages in starting a business. You haven’t been jaded by the corporate world, and you’re not yet trading in a nice weekly paycheck for uncertainty.

Young, fresh perspectives are also integral to innovation. Discovering how things work with new eyes enables you to see how systems can improve. Young people tend to have more creativity and energy in their pursuits, so use this to your advantage when you’re trying to reinvent the way things work. Plus, the added benefits of having few commitments (no mortgage or children) make young people the ideal demographic to throw their time and energy into making a new business work.

4. Take control of your freedom.

While it’s hard work, a huge perk to starting a business is the freedom that comes along with it. Yes, you’ll be working most hours of the day (and even night) but you can choose when, where, and how you get things done. Executive decisions are yours alone, but so is the satisfaction and pride of doing things your way. You have to be decisive when you call the shots, so start-up personalities should have a bit of dynamism in their bloodstream.

5. Be your own strongest advocate.

No one is going to want to see your business succeed more than you. You have to be your chief advocate, and in the entrepreneurial world, networking is everything. Spreading the word and advertising what you’re doing is the only way to gain traction. If you have a great idea and are working hard to make it happen, people will want to know what you’re doing, so don’t be afraid to speak up.

6. Be aware of the risks.

According to Carol Roth, a Chicago-based business strategist, nine out of every ten new businesses fail in the first five years. Though this doesn’t bode well for new startups, without risk, there’s no reward. Keep in mind that if you want a sure thing, it may be best to start your business part-time, and keep your day job (for now). But don’t be timid — even if your business doesn’t take off like you wanted it to, many employers find down the road that startup personalities have important skills they want on their team, too.

7. Gather resources.

Because starting a business right after graduation is so risky, you should hedge your bets and arm yourself with as many resources as possible. If you have student loans, look into the Small Business Administration’s Student Start Up Plan for Income Based Repayment, or for nonprofits, look into the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. The Youth Entrepreneurship Council is a great network and resource to better prepare you for the journey ahead, and don’t hesitate to seek out mentors, investors, and advisors (maybe even offering equity in your company in exchange for their assistance).

There’s no rulebook for your business (yet), so you get to draw the business model. It’s high risk, but can definitely turn out to be high reward.

Image: iStockphoto

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team