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A student entrepreneur is a business owner that starts a company or non-profit organization while still attending school. Student entrepreneurs may have a special talent or ability, such as computer programming or sewing, that they can turn into a lucrative business venture. Though student entrepreneurship can be an extraordinary experience, it can present difficulties, including maintaining a balance between schoolwork and running a business.
The key to becoming a student entrepreneur is to identify a niche market or inefficiency in a market, create a product, service, or organization to capitalize on a specific need, and create a workable business plan that allows the company to earn revenue. Within these parameters, the possibilities for different types of businesses that a student can create are nearly endless. While one student might be driven by passion to create a non-profit organization that sponsors wildlife cleanup in the rainforest, another might develop a unique computer game that attracts thousands of users. There is no “right” type of business for a student entrepreneur to develop, though some experts suggest that students may possess natural insight into the needs and consumer desires of their age group.
One popular area for student entrepreneurs to start out in is building websites. Websites earn money by attracting lots of Internet traffic and using various forms of advertising, such as ad-revenue programs or pay-per-click schemes, to generate income. Storefront websites also generate income by selling merchandise, or allowing others to sell items through the website.
Creating a website may be ideal for student entrepreneurs, as it generally involves low start-up costs. If the site grows popular, entrepreneurs may be able to use that popularity to convince investors to contribute money toward expanding the company. This may be important, as many traditional investors and lenders may be reluctant to take a chance on an unproven student entrepreneur; by demonstrating the site's growing popularity, an entrepreneur can have clear proof that they have designed a successful business.
Student entrepreneurs may also create a business that fills a need or niche in their local area. This type of business is often good for students, since they may not be able to travel far or leave the area for long periods of time. Opening a cookie delivery service, environmentally friendly dry-cleaning company, student-run moving business, or tutoring service can be done a small scale in a community environment. If students have ties to the community, it can also give them a starting base of customers.
One of the benefits of being a student entrepreneur is that it can qualify a student for a variety of grants, scholarships, and awards. There are many national and international competitions for the best student-run business, with cash prizes, scholarships, and chances to make business contacts at stake. Some colleges and graduate schools have specific scholarships available for student entrepreneurs, or may think favorably of accepting a student who has demonstrated the initiative of starting a business.