Can a college student be an entrepreneur?

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By Prof. Steven Levine
Campus News

Have you ever had an idea about a business or a product, that you felt would have a significant impact on society? You searched, and never found anything quite like what you were thinking of. Every now and then, at random times, the same concept would pop into your mind, but you never took the time to investigate the possibility of actually creating this concept. After a period of time had elapsed, you forgot about it, since you were so involved in other pursuits. Then, one day, you see the very idea that you had, about this new product or business, either online or in a store. What happened?

This scenario plays out time and time again. The person who brought your concept to life is the Entrepreneur. How do you define this person? Is he or she so different from you? People say that this person works very hard, and never takes any time off to relax. You have your own a business or work in a career, where you put in long hours. If you own your own business, it’s what  keeps you up at night. So are you an Entrepreneur? Maybe not. There is a type of business that may be defined as a “lifestyle” business. Your motivation for this business is to provide your family with standard of living that is acceptable to you. The thing that you are missing can be defined with one word, PASSION.

This “PASSION” is the driving force that keeps the Entrepreneur focused on the product, whatever it happens to be. He or she will utilize every financial resource that they can lay their hands on, to make sure they have enough capital to bring this concept to life. Having the Entrepreneurial spirit also requires that you have the ability to accept failure.

Let me explain: You had a concept for a product that nobody had conceived before. You financed it, started to sell it, but for some reason, the business failed. The ordinary person would be discouraged, and would vow never to do this again. This person would do very well, working for someone else, since the environment, in terms of risk for himself, would be very safe. The Entrepreneur would look at this scenario very differently. Instead of being discouraged, his mindset would be; why did the business fail, what went wrong, and more importantly, when I go back into business, how can I fix that problem so it does not happen again? He eagerly accepts the challenge of climbing right back into the business environment, and starting again.

After doing some serious self-analysis, you realize that you have the right mindset and passion to create this new groundbreaking, never-thought-of-before concept. But how? That is the reason for the Business Plan. The creation of this document will force you to test your ideas in the cold harsh light of day. I will discuss the basics of the business plan, and why it is different than a business model, in my next article in September.

Steven Levine teaches Accounting and Business at Nassau Community College. He has an MBA from Baruch and has owned his own business and worked for Charles Pfizer and Mobil Oil, as well as very large electrical distribution firms.

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