Above: Photo courtesy iStock
By contributor Krista Meckelborg
A young man sits in a small lecture hall and glances at the clock: 2:17 pm.
Apart from the slightly wrinkled two-piece suit he’s wearing, he looks like any other student in the room: tired and eager to leave. It’s already been a long day. He looks up at the clock again: 2:18 pm.
The energy in the classroom builds as the professor begins his closing remarks. The young man quickly closes his notebook and places it in his second-hand briefcase. He waits until the professor has spoken his last word before dashing to the door and racing out to his car.
The man pulls out his phone to see a calendar reminder pop-up, “Meeting with client @ 2:30 PM.” He looks to the top-right corner of the screen. 2:21 pm.
As he races to meet with his client, he does a mental double- check to ensure that he has prepared everything requested.
Marketing proposal: check.
Raw photos: check.
Website template: check.
He pulls into a parking spot in front of a Starbucks. He takes a quick glance at his watch as he pulls out his briefcase and walks inside.
2:29 pm. Perfect.
Starting up a new business can be hard enough as it is, but imagine trying to start up a business at the same time as managing a university course load. For some students at Vancouver Island University, this struggle is a reality. Andrew Nixon, a part-time student at VIU, is doing just that.
The fourth-year business student is also one of five co- founders and creative partners of MADE Creative, a full-service marketing agency. This small business does everything from photography, videography, and graphic web design to event management and social media marketing.
There are a lot of benefits to starting up a business while attending university. You’re surrounded by resources: students who can become your work colleagues, professors who can advise you on potential issues, and complete access to a library full of valuable information. You might not make much money at first, but it’s definitely possible to roll in a bit of extra cash this way as well.
One of the biggest benefits to starting a business while in university (apart from the potential of making it big) comes from the real-life experience of running a business. Whether you’re looking to enter the world of business or not, the lessons learned in beginning this type of venture are invaluable. Creating a successful business requires a significant amount of perseverance, organization, and hard work. These skills have the potential to take you anywhere in life.
However, none of these benefits come without struggles. Starting from scratch is not an easy process, and a business is definitely no exception.
“There’s no such thing as an easy day, there are no days off,” Nixon says about the work he and his partners have done since their business officially incorporated in August. With Tom Alexander, Mike Anderson (fourth-year business student at VIU), Heather Fiske (VIU alumni), and Alexander Stickel; Nixon invests significant effort into helping his business become successful.
Despite his business education, Nixon mentioned that there are many things that his team has had to learn on their own that haven’t yet been covered in his own university experience, such as: details about when to incorporate, legal implications of incorporation, knowing how to file for a business license, and dealing with business taxes and expenses.
One of the biggest issues for a start-up business, and especially for students, is the issue of money. Funding is essential for any new venture to begin, as business expenses can stack up fast. From legal costs to equipment purchases and marketing the company, the saying is definitely true that it costs money to make money.
“Money is your oxygen,” says Nixon. For some, this “oxygen” is found through crowdfunding or support from family or friends. However, extra capital can be extremely difficult to acquire. Financial backing for a start-up business often comes directly out of the pockets of those who begin the venture, such as in the case of MADE Creative.
However, for some entrepreneurs, the hardest part may be just getting started in the first place. Many people dream about starting up a business, but few actually make it happen.
“It’s one thing to sit back late at night and talk about an idea, but then it’s another thing to actually pool resources together and make something happen,” says Nixon.
Those actively working towards making their business dreams become a reality can truly see the benefits of dedication and perseverance. Regardless of the struggles that accompany starting up a new business, many entrepreneurs enjoy it far too much to quit anytime soon.
“It’s challenging,” says Nixon. “But I love it and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We are the makers of our own success.” Nixon and his partners at MADE Creative are openly looking for opportunities to work with other businesses and individuals. They can be contacted at <madecreative.co>.