While it seems impossible to balance a new business with your hectic student schedule, the prospect isn’t as daunting as you think. With these ten handy tech tools by your side, starting your own business while you’re in school won’t seem like such a bad idea after all.
Banking & Financial Management Tools
Your student startup should be an exciting new venture, but it can be easy to get carried away with the lavish launch parties, after-parties, and after-after parties. The cold, hard truth is that most successful new businesses don’t break until 3 years after their launch. It’s essential to keep a close watch on your finances (but keeping watch on your wild party guests is important, too).
Budgeting apps allow you to keep an eye on your finances no matter where you are. Some of them even alert you when a large sum is leaving your account so you can focus your attention where it’s needed the most.
Non-financial tools can also be used to your advantage, of course. There’s a plethora of business tools out there that can help you on your entrepreneurial endeavours.
The Paperless Office
It might not seem like it at first, but it’s the little expenses that make all the difference. These include paper costs and stationery for your business. Trust me; they add up.
Thankfully, laptops, tablets, and smartphones have all but replaced the traditional paper and pen. These one-off expenses might seem high at first, but one look at Staples’ stationery catalogue will show you that these tiny expenses will certainly pile up fast. Sorry, Staples—you’re great, but I’m a Dunder Mifflin fan.
You probably use this tool every day without really knowing it. It’s easy to overlook until you really need it. Remember the first time you studied at home instead of going to campus because you thought it would be easier? Yeah, what would have made your day a million percent more productive was using the college’s intranet.
A local intranet is essentially a network of computers that can share files and computing services. Having a local intranet increases efficiency, improves communication, and saves money through shared software applications.
Apart from sounding like the title of an abandoned Stephen King novel, “The Cloud” could be the answer to all of your technological business needs.
Need more computing power, easier access to files, better security, and increased collaboration? Get on the Cloud. Cloud computing grants you and your colleagues access to important files wherever they are, which allows for instant collaboration.
Just because the Apple store looks like a cross between heaven and an ancient Greek amphitheatre, it doesn’t mean that you have to follow suit and compete with it.
Online shopping is more prevalent today than ever before. Selling your products online can increase awareness of your company and expand your customer base. Online storefronts don’t have the same costs associated with traditional retail stores, shelf space isn’t an issue, and you can sell your product as orders come in, which slashes your cost of sales.
Time Management Apps
Missing a university deadline is bad, but missing a deadline at work can be much, much worse. Juggling your schoolwork with your startup can get complicated fast, and you’ll need all the help you can get.
Gone are the days of snail-mail questionnaires and feedback forms filling your spam folders; today, businesses can receive up-to-date customer feedback with the click of a button. Online retailers like Ebay and Amazon have built their brand on this instant feedback. You can, too. This valuable feedback can help you tweak your business practices to provide the best possible service.
Loyalty & Reward Programs
They say it’s at least 10 times more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. Customer loyalty programs help build relationships between you and your clients, but the days of punch cards and wallets full of reward cards are over. Instead, turn to customer reward apps to help build that loyalty.
Mobile apps like “Perka” work in the same way as traditional punch cards, but it uses smartphones to log the transaction. It can be used in more than 400 different retail stores across Canada.
Video calls can be used for so much more than chatting with your parents or playing the occasional game of chess with your infuriatingly smart younger sister (just say you let her win and one day she might believe you).
Video calls can add a personal touch to any long-distance business relationship. Whether it’s with your suppliers or your colleagues, speaking to them face-to-face can help both sides communicate more effectively. This can also greatly improve group brainstorming sessions. Just remember that they can see you (i.e. make sure that at least your upper half is well-dressed).
All your hours spent procrastinating on social media sites may have actually been useful. But before you ask, having reached level 20 on Farmville doesn’t count as a license to launch an agricultural business. Joking aside, there are real benefits to using social media when starting a business.
Social media sites can give you a link to your customer base that wasn’t available before. Being able to update your customers on new products or alert them to any changes being made to your company really demonstrates your appreciation for their continued support. This adds a personal touch to your customer relationships, which can assist you in competing alongside the larger, more established competition.
So what have we learned? Well, apart from the fact that news anchors don’t wear trousers, we’ve also learned that there are a number of helpful tools out there to help you start your own business. New technologies have made it easier than ever to collaborate with suppliers, colleagues, and customers all over the world from the comfort of your dorm room. Why not give it a go? There’s a myriad of resources out there for those who are up to the task—it’s just up to you to start using them.
Are you creating your own startup? Thinking about it? Let us know—we’d love to hear your stories and tips.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.