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Why Every Student Should Start a Business

9 reasons to abandon your fear of start-up and launch a business today

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By Michael Simmons

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With the economic downturn, students in all the major businessschools have been dropping out of their entrepreneurship classesand transferring back to classes where they think they have asecure future. Students and professionals who were once planning tostart businesses now have decided to go back to their cushy jobs.Everything is going back to normal. Or at least that is how itlooks. Below are nine reasons why any student should start abusiness:

1. You gain experience. Owningand running your own business is an incredible way to gainexperience and credentials regardless of whether you decide to stayin business once you graduate. Jaime Gonzalez of Oklahoma StateUniversity received the highest job offer in his entire graduatingclass. Now, there are two kickers: First, he was the founder of anIT consulting company, and second, he had a 2.4 GPA. Hmmm...Iwonder if starting a business helps in getting a better job whenyou graduate?

2. You have nothing to lose. I think it's safe to saythat most students dip into their parents' checkbook when itcomes time to pay the bills. In general, students aren't payingchild support, rent, utilities and many other expenses. The worstthing that could happen if your business fails is that you get ajob, have an incredible credential on your resume, and haveexperience that will increase your chances of success in thefuture. The best thing that can happen is that you'll becomethe next Microsoft. I don't know about you, but I think that isbetter than choosing between no job and jobs that you're injust for the money.

3. Two-thirds of millionaires are entrepreneurs,according to Thomas Stanley and William Dank, authors of The Millionaire Mind. If it's themoney you want, then consider entrepreneurship. You receive notonly a salary, but also a lot of money if you're lucky enoughto sell your company or take it public. Michael Furdyk, asuccessful young entrepreneur, was able to sell his business,MyDesktop.com, for $1 million when he was 16 years old!

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Go to BizStartUps.com for more information on startinga business while you're young.
4. You develop networking skills. You've likely heardthat your network increases your net worth. Consider the fact thatby running a business and constantly being in a business community,you will develop excellent contacts. If you choose to get a jobafter you graduate, you will have a great pool of people who willbe more than happy to hire you or send your resume to somebody whowants to.

5. You increase your value. Put simply, starting abusiness in college increases the value of "the brand calledyou" and gives you more options. For example, an entrepreneurwith a large brand value can publish a book, star in a documentarymovie (i.e., Startup.com), or go straight to the top of anothercompany. I recently met one of the founders of Diversity Planet, ajob site for minorities. He spent a year working very hard on thecompany and has since left to take a reporting job with DatelineNBC at the ripe age of 20! People don't often don't get anopportunity like that until they are much older.

6. Operating a profitable business in the long term is lessrisky than being an employee in the long term. For example,just look at the recent economic downturn. Tens of thousands ofpeople have been laid off. I can guarantee the owners of profitablebusinesses are still with the business. They will be the lastpeople to go down with a ship. Business owners can have multiplestreams of incomes from different customers. If you're anemployee, you only have one stream of income and therefore arebearing more risk.

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7. You will learn more about yourself and what they don'tteach or prepare you for in school. Furthermore,entrepreneurship is the combination of all the disciplines ofbusiness. It includes knowledge of marketing, accounting,management and operations. Already having knowledge of these topicsbefore you take classes on them allows you to see more clearly howeverything applies. Also, you will be able to learn early-on whatsubjects you like so you can make better decisions on what to majorin and what industries to target.

8. It is yours. You make the rules, create your ownhours, work from wherever you want and choose who you want to workwith. You can also pick what interests you the most in the worldand then start a business that is related to that topic in someway. If you like art, you can start a design business. If you likemarketing, you can create or choose a product and then market it.If you like writing, you can write a book and do your own publicrelations and marketing. If you like the Internet, you can start aWeb development business.

9. You'll grow. I personally have grown a lot fromowning a business. I used to be terrified to speak in front ofothers. Now I look forward to it. Before owning a business, I hadprobably read a total of five books outside of school, and I onlyread them because my mom made me. Since starting my business,I've probably read more than 100 books. The business has alsoallowed me to learn more about myself. I know that I will be anentrepreneur forever in some way, shape or form!


Michael Simmons, owner of Web development company PrincetonWebSolutions, is a student at New York University. He can be reached viae-mail at michaeldsimmons@hotmail.com.To subscribe to his newsletter, type "subscribe" in thesubject line.

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