Five Tips on Being a Successful Entrepreneur in College

1. Entrepreneurship takes A LOT of time and effort.

Make sure you have your regular life (homework, classes, clubs, etc.) handled before you decide to take on your own business.

2. Use your resources.

There are many people at Penn State, especially now, who want to help you in many different ways. Personally, I’ve used the SBDC (Small Business Development Center), New Leaf Initiative, and Lion Launch Pad. I would also use online resources. There’s an excellent FREE course on Udacity about entrepreneurship and start-ups called “How to Build a Start-up.” It won’t tell you everything, but it’s a great place to start. In combination, all of these sources will give you a great foundation in helping you move forward with your idea.

3. Fake it till you make it…but DO NOT LIE.

When I first started my car wash, I needed pictures to put on my website. So I washed cars at a lower rate or for free just to get the photo op. But after four or so photos, I had enough actual paying customers who loved my service so I didn’t need those pictures anymore. I was able to get customers to let me take photos of their cars because they believed in my business and didn’t mind.

4. You need to be 10 times better than your competitor.

Not a little better, not just cheaper, not just faster, but 10 times better. And 10 times better doesn’t mean that you’re 10 times cheaper. For example, when Fender guitar first went into business they thought selling their guitars for 10 times cheaper than Gibson would give them greater market share. BUT people assumed that they were cheap and weren’t a better value than what was already in the market. So they raised their prices, improved their marketing, and won over a very competitive space. So take a look at your competitor, and then look at your business. Are you truly 10 times better?

5. KNOW the TRUE problem you are solving.

If you do not know the problem that you are solving, then you do not know your business. For example, let’s take my business. We were a waterless car cleaning service that comes directly to you. Many people believe that we are selling car washes. Well, you can get a car wash at your house, or at the tunnel down the street. But the problem that we’re solving and the thing that we’re selling is time.

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