Overhead shot of table with two White people, Black man, laptop and notebooks

3 Important Steps to Take Now to Start a Solid Business After College

It’s never too early to develop a business plan and get ready for your career! Here are three steps for students preparing to launch a new start-up postgrad.

Interest in self-employment starts early these days. According to one study, three in five American teens are seeking programs that teach entrepreneurship in and out of school. And by the time they get to college, the number of students planning to become their own bosses increases. In fact, 60% of 2022 graduates currently run or plan to launch their own businesses, opting for the freedom, flexibility, and earning potential it can offer compared to traditional jobs. If you’re planning to start a business after graduation, you don’t need to wait until you have your diploma. Creating a plan now will help you hit the ground running right after your last final. Here are three important business prep steps to take while you’re still in college.

1. Make connections

With nearly 70% of college seniors concerned with the significant amount of student debt they’ll be graduating with, it’s smart to take advantage of all the free resources you have on campus. Faculty members may be able to offer mentorship and guidance. The career services department can also help you connect with graduates already running their own businesses—an invaluable resource if you’re planning to take a similar journey.

In addition, many colleges and universities offer student organizations like entrepreneur or business clubs where students can access resources, meet local entrepreneurs, and share ideas with like-minded individuals. Don’t ignore the power of internships either. Doing an internship in a field or market that interests you can be a valuable way to make connections and get an inside view into running a business.

Related: How to Start Networking: Top Tips and Tricks

2. Work on your business plan and seek feedback

All entrepreneurs need a business plan illustrating how their great idea can turn into a successful, profitable company. When writing your plan, you need to account for every area of your business—from marketing to manufacturing—if you plan to sell a product. Business plans are living documents that’ll develop and change alongside your company, so creating one now in college can give you a solid starting point and save you time. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to kill the proverbial two birds with one stone by developing a business idea for a class or project. Instead of doing the work just for a grade, consider it an opportunity to develop your plan, pitch or present it to people, and get feedback from professors and peers. You can use the input you receive to rework any areas of your plan that your class found lacking or highlight the areas that stood out.

Another great way to get feedback is to enter your business plan into a competition. Many  organizations sponsor these opportunities for high school, college, and graduate students. Winners usually receive not only valuable feedback but seed money or a microloan to invest in their start-up costs. Even if you don’t win, the opportunity can help you test-drive your idea against others—some of which may be your actual competition after you launch your business. In addition, there are competitions for creating and delivering in-person or virtual pitches for your business, like a 90-second elevator pitch of what your company will deliver, why it’s needed, and how it stands out from others. Contests may award up to $10,000 for the best pitch presented to successful entrepreneurs. You may even be able to deliver your virtual pitch right from your dorm room.

3. Start exploring funding options

Besides maybe asking your parents to contribute to your start-up as an early graduation gift, there are many ways to fund your business while you’re still in college. These range from borrowing money from friends and relatives (consider them “investors”) to taking out a small business loan at a bank or credit union. It can be difficult for young people, especially college students or recent graduates, to obtain traditional funding. Consider how much money you’ll need for start-up costs and how much it’ll cost to pay back your loan. In addition, your credit score will impact how much lenders will give, so keep your credit in check while in college.

Another great funding resource is the Small Business Administration, which offers online courses, mentorship programs, and other resources like a lender match tool. While your business and personal budgets may be separate, knowing how much debt you’re willing and able to take on is essential. You may be tempted to use credit cards, but this can be risky, especially if you’re using your personal line of credit vs. a business card. When you’re still searching for financing, it pays to do your research before you take out a loan.

Related: 5 Ways to Prepare for Your Life as an Entrepreneur

All this to say, you don’t have to wait for graduation to start your start-up! While in college, you can utilize your campus resources, research loan options, engage with business mentors and like-minded student entrepreneurs, and begin to craft a solid business plan to help you launch a great start-up once your degree is in hand. Good luck!

You need to take advantage of everything your Business education has to offer! Check out our article on How to Make the Most of an Undergraduate Business Degree to make sure you’re on track.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Maxime Croll

Maxime Croll is a Senior Director and Insurance Product Manager at ValuePenguin.com. Previously, she was the Director of Product Marketing at CoverWallet—a commercial insurance start-up—and also helped launch NerdWallet's personal insurance business. Maxime has contributed insurance insights and analysis to Forbes, USA Today, The Hill, and many other publications.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress


High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress really helped me by letting me know the colleges ratings and placements. They gave me accurate information on my colleges tuition rates and acceptance. They even let me know the ration between students and faculty and the diversity of the college. Overall they told me everything I needed and things I didnt even think I needed to know about my college and other colleges I applied for.

Sonny Harris

Sonny Harris

College Student

For the entire year before college, I spent a lot of time deeply considering what major I wanted to go into and how to fund my higher education. After a lot of research, I came across CollegeXpress, which helped me ultimately find a ton of scholarships for which I could apply—and some of which I received! If it weren’t for CollegeXpress, I may not have found those scholarships as they didn't appear on any other scholarship search forum. Additionally, I learned more about the options I had been considering for my major through CollegeXpress’s resources. In the end, I chose to major in Computer Science, as it seemed best suited to me and the careers in the field seemed enjoyable, and I've never been more excited to move into my future! Ultimately, I want to thank CollegeXpress for offering their services. I received enough financial aid in scholarships to fund my entire freshman year of college and even got some money refunded which I used to purchase a new laptop, and I bought all of the books I needed for the semester!

Josiah Kegg

Josiah Kegg

High School Class of 2021

I want to sincerely thank you all for this amazing website that's legitimately helped me find so many different scholarship opportunities. I've been stressing out for the longest time about paying for college since I would rather stay out of debt and have been working days trying to find any scholarship opportunity. When I found CollegeXpress, I discovered many easy scholarships that have given me hope for the future. Thank you and God bless!

Maria  Fernanda

Maria Fernanda

High School Class of 2023

CollegeXpress is always telling you with time to spare when to apply for certain scholarships, what they require, and if you’re eligible or not. They also provide helpful tips for both incoming college students and current college students, such as what to absolutely have in your dorm.

Kory Gilbertson

Kory Gilbertson

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has helped me explore my views on college in that "why do I wanna go to a certain school" way. It’s helped me explore the best fits in all of these outstanding choices. All these college admission counselors can access my accolades showing them how I could help their college. This source of information helps me show these admission directors who I am and what I'm interested in. Thanks to this platform, my experience for education will be better than most, and I'm so grateful for all that it has provided for me.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

University of Indianapolis

Indianapolis, IN

Schreiner University

Kerrville, TX