Education is a privilege for sure. Young people around the world are embroiled in a tightly competitive race to find acceptance in some of the finest institutions in their region or perhaps for the more moneyed ones, in the world. After all, as the world has transformed into a truly globalized economy, a good education becomes their passport for a well-paying career. For those who are parents, you understand the cost of sending a child through school. In Australia, the cost of a college education averages AUD$ 15,000 to $23,000 per year which accounts for one third of the median household income of AUD$ 66,820. Once you factor in cost of living and the fact that the average size of a family in Australia includes two (2) children, then you would understand how much of a privilege education truly is.
An available option for students who wish to support their education is to start a business. But starting a business obviously requires funding. Businesses incur costs on a daily basis and some of these costs such as time, opportunity, interest are intangible and routinely unaccounted for by budding entrepreneurs. But these have direct implications on how your business is being supported. Direct costs such as Internet, rent, communication and power are still manageable but nonetheless should be factored in your business model to have an accurate measure of your performance via the Income Statement.
For students who plan to set up businesses you have to determine your start up costs immediately. Given your constricted finances, you should avoid any business plan that will entail additional borrowings. If you must use your credit card, the extent of its use must be manageable whereby the principal amount can be regularly paid every month thus limiting your additional costs to interest charges.
An option for entrepreneurs who need financing for their business that has gained popularity in the United States is the process of crowd funding. This is the process of funding a project or a venture by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people, usually through the Internet. In the United States, the popular online crowd sourcing platform is Kickstarter which has received US$1.5 Billion in pledges from 7.8 Million backers to fund 200,000 projects.
A study by the World Bank showed that Australia trailed countries like Canada, Brazil, Germany, France and of course, the United States in the number of crowd funding sites available largely due to the country’s regulatory arrangements. Presently, there are only 12 crowd funding sites in Australia with Pozible being the most successful. But there are more entrants expected in 2015 with new platform OurCrowd leading the way.
Perhaps you should consider getting partners onboard your venture and pool your resources together. When getting partners you should be mindful of one, who you select and two, how you organize the enterprise. On impulse, most young entrepreneurs would ask their best friends, intimate lovers to become their business partners. But relationships are often an over-rated quality in finding the ideal business partner. Instead, you should look for “right-fit” people as potential business partners. “Right-Fit” are people who share your values, purpose and vision. Aligned business partners will always look after the best interest of the collective.
Once you’ve found your partners, organize. Set up the structure of your enterprise; define equity participation, payment schedules, policies, workflows and the scope of responsibilities of each partner then put this in a written covenant for everyone’s reference. By organizing the enterprise, you shall be giving your group a clear direction of where you want to go and how to get there.
The next step is to figure out what kind of business should be set up. For students with limited funds, here are a few proven business ideas to consider:
- Freelance work. Freelancers can find work from several online platforms and there are openings for all skill levels. Compensation would depend largely on your experience; those who have completed more projects generally are prioritized and command the best prices. As an example, if you are a freelance writer or blogger, your initial pay would average $5 per 500 word article but as you accumulate more clients, it can double to $10 per 500 word article.
- Tutoring. If you particularly excel in a subject, you can make good money as a tutor. Not everyone can excel in every subject and within the confines of a school campus you will surely find a sizeable market that needs assistance in your specialty subject. Start off by offering your services to friends who can help promote your enterprise by giving you referrals. To gain traction, combine old-school networking with digital marketing strategies. Ask your school if they allow you to distribute flyers or post ads on your tutoring service and use social media to spread the word within your community.
- Online business. People have made good money by buying and selling online. Given that there are 3 billion people online on any given day chances are you will be able to find a market that will gravitate toward your products or services. The most important component of an online business is the website. If you are on a tight budget, opt for a free, downloadable WordPress website template. WordPress is widely used because its Content Management System or CMS is user-friendly. But managing a CMS is different from designing a website. You should always hire a professional website designer to build your website. If your funds are tight, offer a payment schedule that falls within your cash flow projections. Or better yet, ask a friend who may gladly do it for a fraction of the cost or in exchange for equity.
- Capitalize on your hobbies or interests. If you have hobbies or interests in which you feel you excel at, you should capitalize on these by creating a service. For example, if you are a talented guitar player, you can offer music lessons within the campus or to the surrounding communities. If you are a physical fitness enthusiast, you can potentially offer your expertise to any of your school’s athletic teams or to gyms in the neighboring areas.
- Service your community. In addition to your campus grounds, there are opportunities that exist outside its fortified walls. Conduct market research and find out the services your surrounding communities need. Restaurants may need window washing services, pest control while subdivisions may require landscaping work, care-taking, dog-walking and pet care services.
Despite what statistics show, students do not have to be mired in debt to fulfill their dreams of attaining a college degree. Technology has created new avenues to create and promote enterprises that will help students fund their education and become productive members of society. As Thomas Edison said, “Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.” The same can be said for entrepreneurship as it has been said for education.
Brett Russo is the founder of OutsourceWorkers, a company that helps your entrepreneurs save money and time by outsourcing work to virtual assistants.