Why Your College Years May be the Best Time to Start a Small Business

Young entrepreneur explains the benefits and suggests the best business to start.
Jake Rozmaryn
Starting a business in college gave Jake Rozmaryn advantages that he otherwise would not have had. (Photo: Jake Rozmaryn)

Today’s fast-­paced, interconnected world has spawned a new breed of entrepreneur. With the world at your fingertips and children learning touch-screens and first steps almost simultaneously, is it any surprise that the number of college­-aged small business owners is on the rise?

One of these exciting young guns is Jake Rozmaryn, CEO of Eco Branding. He started his clean technology-­focused PR and marketing agency when he was still a sophomore at the University of Maryland. Today his company is well­-established and serving a variety of clients across the nation.

He believes starting his company while he was in college gave him advantages that would not have been available to him later in life.

“It enabled me to fast­-track my career by 10 or more years,” Rozmaryn said. “Starting young made me comfortable dealing with executives who were 20, 30, 40 years my senior and helped me learn how to calmly and professionally deal with any disaster thrown my way. And there were many.”

He shared his tips for success and the pitfalls to avoid when starting a business while in college:

His “must do” list includes:

● Find as many strategic partners and mentors as you can.

● Study your competitors, develop a clear vision/plan that you are confident in and keep-your eye on the prize.

● Prove that you can deliver or at least know what you’re talking about. “That might mean offering your service for free to get feedback and develop case study, or it might mean writing an article or report for a small publication to establish some ‘thought leadership,’” Rozmaryn said.

● There are hundreds of free organizational tools to help you manage day­-to­-day small business functions such as CRM (customer relationship management) and email marketing tools, proposal generators, time tracking, billing and invoicing applications, etc. Use them whenever possible.

● Google everything.

● Never dismiss an opportunity. Take what you can get.

Be insanely passionate about your business. “Passion, passion, passion. If you don’t have passion, quit. If you’re doing it to fill your time, forget it; it’s not worth the stress,” Rozmaryn said.

His things to avoid at all cost include:

● Never take on or offer more than you can handle; never promise something you can’t deliver.

● Don’t try to do it all. “It’s better to do one or two things really well. You can always

expand your offering later on,” Rozmaryn said.

● Don’t put your trust in someone who’s not serious, committed, engaged or delivering.

● Never hire someone you can’t fire.

● Don’t overwork yourself. “You’ll run out of steam, especially when dealing with a demanding class schedule and workload,” Rozmaryn said.

The benefits of starting a business while in college can be great. “You can leverage tremendous university resources like professors, IT and research tools, networking events, campus startup incubators and alumni networks,” Rozmaryn said.

“While fresh lessons from course work may be beneficial for certain aspects of your business,you gain practical, real­-world experience that can never be replicated in a classroom or traditional internship setting,” Rozmaryn said. “Perhaps the most important advantage is that you have the luxury and the opportunity to fail and learn from mistakes.”

Here are Rozmaryn’s 7 top picks for businesses you can start from college:

1. Social media or marketing consultant

2. Buy products on Alibaba, sell them via an Amazon or eBay store

3. Create custom college­-themed apparel

4. Furniture hauling or moving

5. Custom research

6. Collect used textbooks to sell online on behalf of other students

7. Life coaching

College may be the best time in your life to start your business. “You’ll never have lower opportunity cost in your life. Take advantage of that. After you leave college, there will be a million barriers preventing you from taking a chance,” Rozmaryn said.

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