Back-to-School Business Growth
I started my business when I was a senior in college. It began as a project in a business-planning class, and became something so much bigger. Looking back at my college career, I can’t believe how much value I received from the available resources on campus. I honestly couldn’t have started my business without the support of the faculty and staff.
Eight years later, I still maintain a strong connection with my college. In fact, my active participation with the school is one of my secret weapons to building a successful business. Leveraging my college’s various resources has helped me build my company’s brand, recruit employees and find a variety of professional development opportunities. Here are a few ways you can connect with your local college or university:
Marketing: Approach a marketing professor about your company being a test case in their class. In my experience, faculty members often look for local businesses that they can partner with for student projects. These students may help you develop something totally different than your team might have come up with, and it’s great experience for the students.
Internships: Host an internship program. Work with the university to structure a program that will add value to your business and to the student’s educational experience. The more structured the program, the better. Also, find ways that students can engage with your business beyond just making copies. If possible, make it a paid internship. This will increase your intern applicant pool and provide more accountability for the student.
Business Plan Competitions: Attend and/or judge the school’s business plan competition. Judging a competition can be a great networking and branding opportunity for your business. You may even identify a bright group of students that could be prospective employees, and you may have an interesting connection with the other judges. Once, when I was judging a competition, I connected with a product manager at Google who helped me transform the way I optimized my website.
Speaking Opportunities: Find out which faculty members bring in guest lecturers, and reach out to them. Business schools are always looking for exciting entrepreneurs who can share their experiences and inspire students. I have found some of my best employees because I have spoken in their classes, and they developed an affinity for my company. It’s an easy way to recruit without a hard sell.
For some reason, schools are often overlooked when it comes to gaining business support and growing your network. In my experience, your local college or university can be one of the most helpful resources for your business, and can give you the tools you need to go from good to great. All you have to do is reach out and pave the way for new and exciting business opportunities.
Sarah Schupp is the founder and CEO of UniversityParent.com, the #1 resource for college parents. Fun fact: Sarah was recently named to Inc. Magazine’s “30 Coolest Entrepreneurs” list.