Students looking to make green by starting their own businesses don't need to spend it to get the help they need. While some businesses start in dorm rooms, others are born in the boardroom. If the student has an industrious spirit, then there's likely a free resource out there to help turn their entrepreneurial dreams into their reality all while maintaining their 4.0 GPA.
Look to school
The Harvard School of Business breeds entrepreneurs. Its graduates are responsible for companies such as Yum! Brands (Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell), Snapfish, LinkedIn and eBay. With success stories like these and others like it, it's no wonder that the school is an excellent resource for young entrepreneurs.
And although you have to be a student to tap into the school's entrepreneurship secrets, it does offer free resources via its website. These resources include a link to PDF version of the Ten Commandments of Building a Growth Company by Steven C. Brandt. Unlike the original commandments, these are designed to grow your business without guilt. Harvard also links to the Small Business Owners Tool-Kit which offers some of its services for free. Available resources on the site include Toolkit publicity pack, self-guided webinars and a corporate forms library. And since these resources do come from the land of academia, there are series of articles on the topic like "A Litmus Test for Entrepreneurs" by Walter Kuemmerle.
Use organizations to get organized
Though these sorts of resources vary by school, some students may have the support of an on-campus entrepreneurial organization. The Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO) can be found on more than 400 college campuses including Boston College and the University of Wisconsin.
This group and others like it can be used for networking purposes and brainstorming ideas. Some on-campus organizations require membership fees -- some schools may cover this cost for students or offer fundraising opportunities to offset cost. While joining Loyola University Chicago's Women in Business will cost you $50 for the year, Standford's Women in Business lists no membership costs.
Legally in line
An idea is all well and good; however, to be a profitable small business, you'll need to make sure you've got your legal angle covered. Who better to help make sure you're legally in line than a governmental agency? The U.S. Small Business Administration is an independent agency of government which is designed to help grow small businesses.
The Office of Advocacy within the SBA conducts research on issues relating to running a small business. Its research and statistics section offers a plethora of useful studies. For example, a recent study on owner demographics found that the number of male-owned firms is twice that of females and less than 6% of women are self-employed, whereas more than 8% of men work for themselves. Other topics of research include banking and finance, taxes, technology, regulation, health care and local economic development.
The SBA nationally partners with a nonprofit organization called SCORE. The organization is made up of volunteers -- all of whom are retired business owners or executives who are equipped to help young entrepreneurs get their start.
SCORE claims to help grow 20,000 businesses per year. Its successes include Vera Bradley and Jelly Belly Candy. SCORE offers its advice through in-person appointments at any of its 364 offices nationwide or online through workshops and webinars as well as help in finding a mentor online.
"We absolutely help college-age entrepreneurs and they would go about the same process that any of our entrepreneurial clients would go through," Bridget Weston, spokeswoman for SCORE, told Money College. "They could sign up for a local workshop on How to Start Your Business, or schedule a free, confidential, and personalized one-to-one face-to-face counseling appointment with a SCORE expert in [their] area."
So before you go out and spend your start-up funds on pricey consultants consider how free resources could help grow your company from the research stage to the profits sector. These resources could make the difference in your company. And when you win your entrepreneurial accolades, just make sure you thank Money College in your acceptance speech.
Free resources for college entrepreneurs