Graduates are a hopeful people, for the most part, seeing the world as full of opportunities and position waiting to take them in. For some, however, being the employer is their dream job, and they are waiting to actualize their dreams. There are often debates as to whether a graduate should first seek employment or if they can run their own business. We’ll explore the various views and reasons why, depending on the person you are, you can go for it.
Follow your dreams
Passion is what ought to drive you. It is the fuel that will get you going on a bad day when things couldn’t get much worse. It is also the same thing that will give those working with you the motivation to do their best when they see that you, the owner, is passionate about what you’re doing. It shows one has a bold character because starting a business and getting it on its feet is no mean feat.
We’re all told and encouraged from a young age to follow our dreams and do what we love. If you cannot think of yourself doing anything then perhaps that is an indication, despite the initial struggle, that you ought to be true to your vision. There is, however, a catch. We all have dreams to travel the world and make a six-figure salary. Whatever your goal is, however, should meet the needs of others, as we shall expound on the following point.
Do your market research
There is always the flawed assumption that an idea seems great on paper will succeed. That is perhaps the reason why a lot of businesses do not make it past the prototype phase because there is no need for the product. A graduate, therefore, ought to do thorough research and establish what there is your target market requires. If you’re new to certain aspects like the web development process, take time to learn about it. Increase your skill set through online courses and workshops.
Don’t run on the assumption that you know what the market needs better than your audience does. You might have to arrange for focus groups and issue questionnaires to know what aspects of your service or product work and what needs changing. An idea that you should go forward with is one that can be scaled to suit other contexts. That shows that the brand can grow and expand. This research step is quite literally the difference between making it and your idea of getting shelved. It is equally something investors look for.
Finding advisors may be difficult if you don’t have people close to you who can offer you guidance. It is also likely that the businessman or woman you admire might not have time on their hands to form a relationship with you. Therefore, consider looking at unlikely sources. You can go wide or small. Look around your city or neighborhood and list the businesses you admire that have an element of what you do. Approach them either in person or email to set up an initial chat to see if you’re a good match.
As the relationship progresses, get in the habit of sending updates. Show that you implement their advice where applicable and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ensure that you build a lasting bond as their experience could prove valuable when you least expect it. The relationship should help me mutually beneficial so remember to keep that in mind. You don’t want them feeling that they aren’t getting anything in return. A thank you note can do wonders.
Mentors are also important because they have the capability of getting you through doors that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to on your own. They also have insider information and can offer unbiased opinions on the relevant subject matter. It is they who will get you through a hard time as they are likely to have experienced the same. They can, with time, become one of your biggest cheerleaders.
Listen to the pros
It is unlikely that you’ll be venturing into a business where no one has been there before. However, should that be the cause, look for seasons entrepreneurs in your niche field and get pointers from them. Not everyone will have the luxury to meet those they want to model their careers after, but there are books and articles about said individuals that can provide insight into how they did it.
Listening to those who have been in business longer means you get to sidestep some of the hurdles that they had to face when they first started out. Think of it as part of the research. There are however areas where you’ll likely to learn for yourself. Not everything gets taught in school; the only experience can do that. Be open to learn new things and to adjust accordingly as you learn the ropes of owning a business.
If you can, it would be more ideal if you were to become an apprentice in a related company. That way you’ll be able to polish your ideas and get a new perspective of what it takes to run a business. It is perhaps the reason graduates get advised first to get a job to learn discipline and other traits if they are to become better business people.
Network, network, network
You are only as strong as your connections. Build a professional network of like-minded people who you can both benefit from and vice versa. That means that you ought to go for networking events and not be afraid to wipe out your business card at any event you meet someone interested in what you do. Don’t be picky about who you network with; a lot of good can come from the unlikeliest of sources.
Talk to people from different industries. They are likely to give you referrals or even support if they believe in your brand. It, however, requires confidence on your part; if meeting new people gives you anxiety still keep at it- it gets easier with practice. Practice your pitch so that you can introduce what you or your company does in a few short sentences. Once you’re done, invite the person to discuss it further should they so wish and share with them your contacts so they can know how to get in touch.
Don’t forget to get your immediate network involved. Your friends, family and former classmates are equally important when building your network. With social media, getting help is just a click away. They’ll be more than happy to lend a hand.
Volunteer or partner
One of the ways to get the word about your brand and meet new people is through volunteering. Look up organizations in your area that you can join and where your skills are likely needed. If you’re in IT, you can consider teaming up with an afterschool program to teach children some valuable skills. It only looks great for your brand, but it also opens your eyes to ideas and opportunities that you’d have otherwise missed.
Another approach is through developing partnerships with the same programs that you want to support. That gives your brand visibility. Aim to create a lasting relationship as it shows the markings of someone who’s dependable. Others will then want to work with you.
Harness the power of social media
While your business venture may not be entirely related to what you studied, there are was still a lot that you learned. A perfect example is how to leverage social media to get the word out about what you’re doing. Living in such times has made it a lot easier for brands to garner visibility. There are options available that weren’t there ten years ago. Now, all you need is a domain name and official social media handles, and you can start transacting.
The graduate doesn’t have to have a large advertising budget to spend on TV and print. Now there are free platforms with paid functions they can use to reach people they otherwise wouldn’t have. It is especially so with target advertising where one narrow down on the demographic. There are plenty of online tutorials online that demonstrate how to use different tools.
Become a great communicator
Having the ability to put across one’s message with composure are some of the traits of the best speakers on the planet. You might not end up on a podium talking to a crowd of three thousand people, but it is essential to exude the same confidence when talking to a group of five. The same should happen online as well.
You don’t need flashy words to reel people in; you only need to communicate your passion and their need and why you’re the solution. Sales language is off-putting to most, and in an age of media overload and fatigue, you want to come across as a trustworthy brand, not one eager to make money only. Equally, don’t rely solely on online communication. You’re likely to close more deals through calls and meetings than behind your laptop.
Learn about finances
There are narratives of budding entrepreneurs who mix business with pleasure, treating company finances as their own. If you’re not versed in the area, consider hiring a consultant to get your books in order. Paying yourself a salary and sticking to it to sustain you is one of the ways you can avoid dipping your hands into the company’s finances.
You can consider hiring an expert to help you run the business, but equally, you can arm yourself with books of personal and business financing. Taxes and budgeting are examples of topics you ought to know about, as well as auditing should you wish to get financier on board. Here, mentors and those in your network will prove to be resourceful. As always, know your numbers; you don’t know who you might meet.
Know it takes time
There the saying that the pot always breaks at the door, with images of a miner walking away when they are about to strike gold. Cultivate patience with yourself and the business. Don’t get into business expecting to be an overnight success. Stories of Facebook and other Apple should inspire you, not make you impatient to finally succeed. Remaining committed to your passion (and renewing it when the flames threaten to go out) should instead be your focus.
In the age of instant gratifications, many excellent ideas never come to fruiting because someone didn’t take the time to water the idea and be patient enough to watch it grow. Consider reading stories of entrepreneurs that failed and still managed to get back on their feet. Pick character traits for your journey that will help you weather financial storms. A positive outlook and a support system will keep you moving until you reach your goals. Remember, not every day will feel like your favorite television series packed with action. Some days will be monotonous, as it is with most things in life. A realistic mindset and a dose of reality are quite what you need.
Learn to see failure differently
This last point is the most important; failure is part of the process. Having the awareness that at one point or another you’ll make an error makes it easier to reset when it does happen. You’ll become better equipped to problem-solve instead of wallowing. That mindset also turns you into a risk taker that as you’ll be more risk-averse than most. There are valuable lessons that need learning.
If your business fails, as a majority tends to in their first few years of operation, keep with you what you’ve learned. Not everyone will be able to bounce back immediately, but after regrouping, a person can execute a different idea or a variation of the same. Don’t be afraid to go back to the start.