6 keys to being a dorm-room entrepreneur

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Starting your own business from your dorm room can be a great way to help pay your way through school and have a lot of fun doing it.

But it’s not for everyone. Here are six critical factors to being successful:

  • Be honest with yourself. You need to recognize where your skills and weaknesses lie. If math is not your strong suit, seek the help of an accounting major.
  • Develop a business plan, especially if you are dealing with significant amounts of money or if you are launching a complex business. The majority of people still don’t do business plans — it’s not essential, but it will help you clarify your thinking.
  • Save, save, save, even if it means eating in your dorm’s cafeteria for every meal. And get in the habit of putting money aside to invest later on.
  • Research your target demographic and the industry in which you are opening a business. Join specific industry trade associations; membership fees range from $100 to $200 per year, but it’s worth the money.
  • Ask for help when you begin to feel overwhelmed. Before you start a business, it’s a good idea to secure one to three people with whom you have good chemistry to act as mentors. Don’t let them tell you what steps to take, but use them as sounding boards for ideas.
  • Tracking your progress is important to ensuring that you and your idea are on target. Keep records of all your inventory and sales figures — and of course, balance your checkbook.