How to Start a Business After College

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So you just graduated. Kudos to you for all your hard work. Now, what’s your plan?

Are you going to try and get a job (probably in the industry you ‘trained’ in) or make the leap and start a business?

If you answered ‘yes‘ to starting a business, you’ll embark on the most challenging and yet extraordinary journey of all – that of true financial independence.

And yet, a lot of these new businesses FAIL in the first year.

Unless you’d plan to become yet another part of this sad statistic, there’s hope for you and a lot to do to succeed.

Here are the steps you’ll need to take so that you can start a business after graduating college.

Step 1: What are your skills? What services can you provide?

Are you great with kids? Do you cook like a chef? Are you a talented graphic designer? Do you possess a huge sports experience?

EVERYONE HAS A SPECIAL SKILL (or more). So dig deep, ask your friends are relatives and single out the few things you are really great at and love doing. If these potential services are also in demand, you’ve just figured out what you can do to earn money.

Step 2: Create a simple business plan

I hate anything business related and have felt like this for ages. And yet, after working with absolutely no plan in mind and wasting valuable time with stuff that didn’t allow me to reach my full potential, I grew up and started planning.

You don’t need a huge plan, unless you’re looking for funding and this comes with a huge set of requirements.

But, if you’re just thinking about earning money with your own small business, a short plan will do the trick.

Here’s what you should include in your business plan:

  • GOALS – 3 years from now goals, 1 year goal, 3 month goal – be specific and realistic: ‘earn 5k/month, working 40 hours/month, with a team of 2′)
  • CURRENT BUSINESS STAGE – have you made any sales (so you validated your business idea)? Just starting out?
  • KEY ACTIONS – having goals is great, but you need to clearly understand how to achieve them. By choosing the right key actions to develop your business, you’ll be successful in your business – examples of key actions: create a business website, get support from influencers in my industry, write a book etc.
  • STEPS – what do you need to do in order to get influencers to vouch for you? Set up a linked in account for instance, actively sharing their content, getting in touch etc. What do you need to do to get your website? Get a domain name, set up hosting, choosing a content management system (probably WordPress), getting a responsive design for it, setting up your pages (about us, services, testimonials etc) and so on.

You can get a business plan template if you join our course that teaches you how to start an online business.

For many of my students creating a business plan (even just editing a template I already provided) seemed like a daunting tasks.

Most of them told me it’s impossible to know what will happen in 3 years time, how could they possibly plan this?

While we know we cannot foresee future, it’s still quite possible to think about what we’d like to achieve and then clearly set the steps to this.

By thinking about the key actions + steps part of your business plan, you’re no longer shooting in the dark, but creating an outline for your success.

Your plan is not final, you can edit and improve on it, as you move further with your business.

But, believe me, it’s a very helpful exercise to become successful.

Step 3: Prepare a website for your new business

You need a website.

No matter what you’ll do, you need a website.

Ideally, you should have one custom tailored for your business. With a good design, SEO and marketing plans in mind.

Then start a mailing list, create a great lead magnet (a special report, an e-book, a cheat sheet) to get people to subscribe. We give our subscribers free access to 2 of our best lessons on the freelancing course or a special report of the biggest 10 website mistakes many people make (feel free to join both our newsletters, we send only great content. No spam!).

Create a business blog and deliver outstanding content to your readers. Become well known in your industry, share a lot of knowledge and you’ll convert visitors into customers in no time.

Step 4: Promote, promote and then promote some more

Tell everyone about your business, but don’t spam/annoy people.

Grow your mailing list, set a budget aside for paid ads (if you’d like to promote this way), connect with key people in your industry.

Step 5: Take care of your first clients

Under-promise and over-deliver.

Care for your customers, share insights, give them great support, show them they’re not just money ‘providers’ to you.

In little time you’ll become the ‘go to‘ person for them and others will be referred to your business.


Starting your business is a SIMPLE process. There are steps you need to work on and it can be done.

It’s not an easy process though, since you need to be productive, understand your market well, provide excellent service, have a knack for marketing and so on.

After spending 12 years as a web designer with my own small biz (and 7 years doing this full time), I can only say it’s WORTH IT.

18 COMMENTS

  1. I envy those who go the entrepreneurial route. It takes a lot of courage to do so. To those who are going for this route, the list provided here are truly helpful. When I was still working, my boss would always start with e-mailing us his plans for the business. The plan, though as suggested might sound daunting, it really is a blueprint to help one start as it direct one’s steps. I find it hard to proceed with the business without so much as a business plan. I think this goes hand in hand with the idea of making everything concrete. While ideas are great, they won’t translate to anything if you don’t have steps on how to make your ideas work for you. So yeah, start making that business plan if you truly would want to start a business. 🙂
    tabby recently posted…my stock market journey with COL Financial IncMy Profile

  2. Thank you so much for those tips. 🙂 I have a cousin who decided to open up his own business after he graduated from medical school. His business is related to what he finished so I guess it’s one of the factors that makes him successful. Reading step 5 reminded me of his first months in business. He said he didn’t have any customers for more than a month when he started but when he had his first customer and she was satisfied with his services, she recommended him to her friends and that’s how the word of mouth also became a big factor in his business success.
    gracer recently posted…Abduction Cases in The PhilippinesMy Profile

    • Well that is quite an uplifting story, and I am willing to bet that a lot of people would have quit before things started to turn around, so well to him for sticking with it and believing in what he was doing. I do not own my own business but I really wish that I had planned for more of something like it when I was in school, and there are a lot of tools at the universities that you can use to your advantage. Thanks for the example and best of luck to your cousin.

  3. I wish I had this information soon after graduation. I would not have been so afraid to start my own business.

    One thing I have found to be helpful in starting my own business is to do some volunteer work. That can put you in touch with people in who are experienced in your field and can give you advice and experience.  It’s a win-win situation. They get free labor and you get experience.

    The article stated that you should not spam or annoy people. This is excellent advice. Too many times I’ve seen people try to get business  from anyone they know. People end up feeling used and no longer want to be around the owner.  Business owners end up appearing to be desperate for customers.

  4. I am glad to live in an era where being self-employed and working at home are common place things. Wow, had I known these things when I graduated, I would have planned on just working for a time to save for my own business instead of planning a whole life of being employed. I am presently a home-based professional and while I don’t dress glamorously to work every day, I have so much control in my life, time, and finances that I’ll never exchange for even the extras or fringe benefits of working for an employer. Having your own business is a lot of work and sacrifice, but it’s all worth it once you realize your goals.

    • It is pretty amazing to think about how different the whole work from home idea is now than it was even a couple of years ago. It used to have some sort of stigma to it, or at least it did to me, but I think more and more it is becoming commonplace. I am employed in the traditional manner but I can honestly say that almost every day I think about making a genuine effort to escaping it (although health insurance is nice). It is all very interesting, and it should be fun to see where it goes from here.

  5. Well I have to say that these are all great tips, and it is nice to have all neatly lined up. I did kind of get depressed when I realized that even at number one I was already out I have a lot of regrets in my life and one of them is really not learning a specific trade or skill early on in my life. It definitely hurt me in the long run, but if I could go back and have this list…then maybe I would have been better off. Thanks for sharing.

  6. This is a great article. For the past couple weeks now, I have been wondering where to start exactly. I finish school within the next year and want to be prepared mentally. Thanks for this article!

    • Congrats on finishing school, and take it from me and everyone else who has graduated, enjoy it while it lasts. I know it is all cheesy and corny to say the best four years of your life and all of that, and I heard my fair share of it too, but it really is a fun time and you should enjoy your time there and just know it will not always be there.

  7. I love this! Amazing tips. I went to college and realized that I really didn’t want to be doing what I got a degree in. There is only so much you can do with a Sociology degree. So then I went to beauty school. I have been working in cosmetic retail but I am getting kind of tired of all the yuck that goes along with working retail. I have definitely thought about starting my own job as a freelance makeup artist and these are amazing tips that will help me get started on that journey. Thank you.

    • This really seems to be the path a lot more people are taking these days. I have a lot of regrets from back in the day, and one of them is really not choosing a major or area of study that I could use more. It is frustrating, because it seems so easy to think of now, but I guess back then it was just a different mode of thinking, but oh well. I am going back and going much of the same, so I am glad to hear that others are the same way. Best of luck and thanks for sharing.

  8. I sometimes wish that I had had this kind of information when I left school. It would have saved me a world of stress and a lot of time and money if only I had known some of these things. In fact, I’m quite convinced I would already be financially stable if I had found the right kind of guidance. Thanks for an informative post.

    • It really goes to show the importance of planning, in my opinion. You need to take the time to identify and clarify and state these skill sets, or skill set. I am willing to bet that a lot of people overlook this step and write it off for convenience. Interesting stuff, though.

  9. I just shared this article with my brother who is fresh out of college and he loved it so much he shared it with his friends. Thanks again for a wonderful piece.

  10. Now a days, its not difficult to become a business owner as you have finished your collection education. Because there are lot of freelancing websites and you can start freelancing and in couple of months, You have a team that will help you to get local business and International business

  11. These are great tips and will definitely help some with their journey! I like how you mentioned finding your skills in step 1 – figuring out what you’re good at and enjoy is a crucial step.

  12. Hi Ramona, nice share. I wish I have these tips for learning when I started my first small business. I made a lot of mistakes but after struggling a lot, I learned the important business improvement lessons, and now things are good for me.

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