Alabama Photographer and Video Producer

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5 Steps to Starting a Business in College

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Starting my Business

Back in 2016, I released a video titled "Do What You Love" in the hopes of attaining my dream career. When making this film I had no idea what trials and obstacles would come my way, but I had one thing in mind: dedication. Dedication to keep persisting in my goals and to never quit on a dream that I have had all of my life. 

I think we all can agree that being in college is a fun but stressful time.

If it's just fun, you're not giving enough investment and if it's just stressful, you are trying way to hard.

Yes, there is such thing as trying way too hard and believe me I've been guilty of it many times. 

Quitting my previous job in pursuit of this one came with the essential attribute that every entrepreneur encounters - risk. If risk doesn't bother you, entrepreneurship is a great career path. 

1. Find Value in Your Passion

This is the first step in starting a business because without finding the value that people are willing to pay for, your passion is simply just a hobby. A great example of this is recycling. To the normal eye a Coke can look like garbage when it is laying on the ground, but if the right person sees the potential in its aluminum, they can go to the recycling plant and trade it for money. Why? Because the person recycling knows the value that can of Coke has. This is the key when starting ANY business. Find out what people are willing to pay for when it comes to your passion. 

When it came to finding value within my hobbies of photography and video production, I didn't quite understand that people were willing to pay for an activity I considered as a hobby. In fact, I did all of my photo and video projects for free when I started out! 

Side Note: You should give your product or service out for free when starting your business to make sure quality perceived from the buyer meets the quality given by you, the business owner. 

It wasn't till one small graduation shoot where I charged the client I was doing the session for. This was the spark of my business inspiration because at that moment I knew that I could potentially make a living off of this.

2. Become an Expert in Your Craft 

I'm not saying that I'm by all means an expert but what I simply saying is to devote your time and energy into improving your passion everyday. For me this was taking photos and shooting videos every chance I encountered. Free or paid work, I would take the opportunities that came my way. Overtime, I would look at the outcome of my projects and figure out ways I could improve my work. Here is the picture I shot for my friend's graduation compared to my recent graduation photoshoot. 

Although it's hard to be unbiased, but both of these images could be passed off as professional photos. On the other hand, these photos are completely different because I perfected the craft of my business through experience. Sure, it's not perfect but taking the time to improve your passion everyday will result in sustainability overtime. 

The beauty about this concept is that it can be applied to ANYTHING. From collecting rocks to designing and selling clothes, there is always something to improve on and doing so will allow your future business to succeed. 

3. Make it a Full-Time Job

I worked at an apartment complex as a front desk attendant before this. Not only that but as a college student I was managing my time (probably not well) with my job and class. But how did I know when the time was right to quit my job? It's simple - you're passion starts to make you more money than your job and consistently interrupts your schedule. This happened for me around Homecoming when all of the nominees for Homecoming Court started to ask me for photoshoots. At that time, I respectively put in my two week notice and started to devote all of the time spent on that job to my business. 

But how do you manage time on top of your classes? 

Although I'm not a complete expert, managing your time requires you to establish your priorities. For me, academics is close to equal in comparison with my business.

Some people will say why work now when you have the rest of your life to do it? Well my dad taught me two very important lessons that have stuck with me. 

  1. Work your tail off in the front end of life so you don't have to in the back end. 
  2. Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life. (You knew that was coming)

4. Learn Business Operations

The is a very boring section but very essential when starting a business. Congratulations! As an entrepreneur, you are now the CEO, accountant, marketing director, human resource manager, website designer, etc of a business. That means you should have a general idea on how to operate a business. No this doesn't mean that you should be an expert; just understand the concepts and use my method of letting software do all of the hard work for you. 

Accounting - Intuit Quickbooks -  http://geni.us/aaronquickbooks (Get 50% off!)

Advertising - Adobe Creative Cloud http://geni.us/aaronadobe (Student Discounts available!)

Website and Portfolio - Squarespace - http://geni.us/aaronsquarespace (No Affiliate Link)

*Be on the lookout for another post about my essential workflow apps

There are a whole lot more pieces of software that I use but those are the most essential. 

5. Remember Your Purpose

Starting a business just for the money will only get you so far. Trust me, I've been put in a creative block multiple times because of the money aspect of business. Remembering your purpose for starting your business will inspire you to keep striving everyday. It will prevent burnouts and ultimately give you a competitive advantage against your competition. Your consumers will see that you actually have the drive to excel in your craft and provide value to other people around you.