The following is a guest post from Koko Umbo from babeonideas.com
Hands up if you’ve ever thought about what your life would look like after college.
An above $100,000 annual income 9 to 5, a cool crib of your own before you are 25 paid for in full from your pocket, an online business, a real business in an area you are truly passionate about, a startup which can make you the kind of money you need to live the life of your dreams or even, chasing your artistic or athletic talents to superstardom.
Now that’s just the upside.
As a college student, you may also wonder if you will ever land the job of your dreams that will get you off student loan and give you a fairly good head start, or if you will ever succeed should you venture in pursuit of your creative talent or passions.
If you share one or more of these thoughts, guess what? You are not alone. It is a healthy part of being human to wonder about your future and chart a course for your life if you can and like you, every college undergrad has those moments.
While thinking critically about your career moves seems like the obvious thing to do before leaving college, how about backing that up with an ingenious idea to start a business and a Business Plan to match?
Here are 10 reasons why you should not graduate college without an idea and a business plan:
Gone are the days when jobs waited for all graduates after college as four out of five graduates leave college without a job as the entry level job market turned on its head with the global economic meltdown. Two thirds of graduates struggle to launch their careers and 44% of graduates work in jobs that do not need a college degree, with only 36% having good non-college jobs paying up to $45,000 annually.
The share of underemployed recent grads in low-wage jobs paying below $25,000 rose to more than 20% and about one of five i.e. 23% underemployed recent graduates worked part-time in 2011, up from 15% in 2000. How complicated is that? Unlike your parents, you live in a more job uncertain world as a college degree is the new norm and does not guarantee financial freedom, the job or the life of your dreams.
While the news on white collar dream jobs for graduates may sound grim, a new world of opportunities is bursting open for young people all across the world willing to take advantage of them. As a college graduate, it is way easier to chart a business path right after college than it was 30 or 50 years ago as a result of many changes especially those spurred on by technology providing ease of entry to anyone who cares to dare. This has created a euphoric atmosphere of possibilities, and a graduate taking advantage of them with the soft and hard skills acquired from college, is granted a foot in the door of success far above non-college grads.
No other time in history has there been more support for right-out-of-school start-ups like now as opportunities abound for new ideas to thrive supported by governments, and new innovations which have come with using the internet from free services to online platforms to make money or crowd fund for your idea. Whatever it is, the opportunities abound for you like never before.
Look all around you and you will see needs everywhere. Are there solutions to fill these needs? Yes, there are but they are not enough if not these challenges will still not exist. As an undergraduate in the 21st century, your perspective is fresh and different as the age of the supercomputer and the internet has defined your outlook to life in many ways.
And that difference is turning headhunters into the hunted. Imagine the many disruptive ideas like Uber and Airbnb, which have been birth in the last decade rattling the foundation of giant corporations and institutions that now fear for their sustainability.
These companies are created by people like you, influenced by technology as a way of life, who see things differently and are willing to take on unheard of approaches to solve these challenges, by creating new ideas and starting up businesses with them. And the world is waiting for the fresh, the new and the different from young college upstarts just like you.
From perspectives different from the norm comes great ideas and your idea can become a big business and change the world. You can think of what is possible and get cranking on it before leaving college.
Ubeam founder, Meredith Perry is a perfect example of this. As her laptop battery ran out on her every time in class because she always forgot to charge it, she imagined a wireless world, for laptop and phone devices – and every other device you can imagine.
An idea called insane by most experts has received millions of dollars in investment from a number of billionaires including Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban and is looking towards ridding the world of wired devices by charging them with the noise you and everyone around you makes. Way to go!
You may never need to develop a business plan in college if you are not a business major. But learning to develop one on your own or with some expert help equips you with some of the most important business skills which add prestige to your professional persona and overall outlook for business.
From dreaming up the essence of a company to birth a vision, mission statement and core values to researching your market and determining your total addressable market, crafting your differentiation power, creating strategies for your business and having basic insight into the financial workings of a business, you are ahead of the average college graduate and the average person with a good job because you are privy to what only CEOs know. Smart, huh?
With a viable idea and business plan, you are well on your way to becoming your own boss instead of seeking for a job like everyone else. While starting a business may not be a bed of roses, what do you have to lose if you cannot secure a job right after college? You have in your hands the power to design your own career trajectory through your entrepreneurial pursuit.
People who have started businesses right out of college have a head start on failing while still learning to build an enterprise. This head start is critical as most people think of owning a business during their active working years and venture into them during retirement for lack of enough income and still experience as much failures before any form of success. So how about starting when you’ve really got nothing to lose?
The world is very much aware of the power of fresh ideas especially those initiated by those in College and no time in history has there been more funding than now. These funding opportunities range from business plan competitions for those in colleges to angel investments and venture seed funding from governments, states, corporations, venture capitalists, technology companies, name it.
In 2015 alone, $63.1 billion was spent on startup ideas by venture capitalists.4 With your Business Plan, you can apply for business competitions and win or approach prospective investors and get a nod on your idea. These opportunities are happening simultaneously around the world, from Africa to the Americas and are very much available for college students to take advantage of to also expand their network and meet with investors. And with your business plan, you are as fit as a fiddle to get the cash you need to turn your idea into a real business.
Getting your idea funded is a big deal. It gives validation to your creation and it can grow into a big business and create employment for others. With the lackluster job landscape, a young college graduate like you can become a beacon of hope for many other young people because you were willing to develop your idea into something concrete which financially and socially benefits others.
You are in luck to have all kinds of free or cheap resources to leverage on to bring your idea to life in the 21st century. From internet technology, family and friends longing to be part of something exciting, applications, social networking platforms, free business resources, ease of reaching out to prospective mentors etc., it has never been easier to start a business in college or out of it. With most college undergraduates being masters of most social networks, marketing an idea or building a community around your offering is now easier than ever and may cost you next to nothing. So why not start now?
Everyone has ideas for business but not many young people actually believe their ideas can work and for those who do, not everyone is diligent enough to think through their ideas to create something valuable or sellable much less creating a Business Plan for it making you a rare breed and part of the very top 1% of the people in the world. You are part of a rare group of people who will not wait around to watch chance unravel their lives but take steps to actually make things happen.
So there you have it, there has never been a better time in history to have an idea and a business plan as part of your graduation paraphernalia – take the chance it may lead to your haven.
Koko Ombu is an idea strategist who works with entrepreneurs and founders to build start-ups and raise funds. She has experience in idea concept and content development, business and tech strategy and bags a professional online certification in internet marketing. She maintains a high-level interest in multifarious fields and reviews online, business and tech ideas and opportunities from her blog, www.babeonideas.com