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Extra Credit

Earn while you learn--and leave college with a flourishing business.

Should you start a business in college? In the best-case scenario, you get a thriving small company and answer the inevitable question--What are you going to do with the rest of your life?--before you even graduate. On the flip side, you may end your school years with a failed business, substantial debt and an embarrassing grade point average.

I started a free travel e-zine called Student World Traveler (www.studenttravels.com) during my junior year at the University of California, Irvine. It did take a lot of courage and late-night coffee breaks, but the advantages a college campus affords a start-up entrepreneur could save you thousands of dollars.

*Technology. Virtually every college campus has computer labs (many of them open 24 hours) and desktop publishing labs complete with scanners and Zip drives. And you can get your own e-mail address, FTP converter and Web-page space--all for free.

  • Library. Not many community libraries can boast the online and print resources for research materials, government files, microfilm and books that many colleges have.
  • Mentors. Your professors can become the mentors who help kick your business into gear. I've found college professors not only recommend starting your own business, they'll help you through the important start-up stages, such as writing a business plan and creating cash flow. Of course, professors are extremely busy individuals, but if you bring them your business plan, you might gain several semesters of expert consulting . . . and possibly your first investor.

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This article was originally published in the August 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Extra Credit.

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