Advice for a College Student Starting a Business

Business

I received an email from Joanna, a college student trying to start her first business.  I won’t post her entire email, but here’s a bit worth sharing:

I’m interested in communications, marketing/advertising, managing social media, branding, and web/graphic design. I’m also a huge perfectionist, so I feel like it’s hard for me to get started just because I’m so sure the things I put out won’t be perfect enough. Haha.
 
Bottom line: I’d love nothing more than to start my own business offering graphic/web design, branding, and social media marketing. Is that a crazy dream?? If so, any thoughts on where to get started?

Below is my email to Joanna…but I’m sharing it here for other college students who might be feeling the same way.

Hi Joanna!
Forgive the brevity of this email…I’m packing for a few days away to attend a business trip, but I wanted to drop a note.

A few thoughts:
  • There’s no such thing as perfection.  Believe me, I’ve tried.  It never exists.  And, in fact, it slows your growth.  The minute you embrace constant learning/amendments/innovation, the better off you’ll be…and the faster you’ll grow.
  • Yes, it sounds like a crazy dream.  But all good dreams are crazy.  Trust this.
  • Here’s where you get started:
    • Intern and work at however many places will take you.  No, really, put your head down and build a portfolio…do it for free or get paid…it doesn’t matter.  Just start working.
    • Go get a business license.
    • Create a simple starter website/blog.
    • Start creating content for your sites.  Write, create, shoot, design, make videos.  Just get busy and show your stuff (even if it’s not perfect).
    • Post on social every darn day.
      • Share your journey.
      • Share your work.
      • Create content that people are interested in…don’t worry about sales or making money yet.
      • Just post work that inspires you, challenges you, makes you want to shout for joy at how awesome just the idea is.
    • Respond to EVERY comment on your blog and social media.  Show your followers you’re real and you care about them.
Once you’ve done this incessantly and unapologetically for three years (yes, THREE YEARS…at least), then let’s chat.  Trying to create a career or find your voice or monetize your following right now is premature…and unwise.
Build your brand and business on great work, care, and value and, given enough time, you’ll doing what you love, supported by people you care for, and growing a long-term business.
Shine On,
j*