Owning Your Own Business While In College

Owning a Business in College

By Denver Regine Lark

Denver is a part of the TLC College Ambassador Program and attends North Carolina A&T University.

Being an entrepreneur and a student can be stressful but also very rewarding. Take Bill Gates, Larry Page, and Mark Zuckerberg, for example. They all began their entrepreneurial adventures while still being students, and now live as billionaires and pioneers in today’s world. Some like Bill Gates did not graduate college and still became billionaires. But what about students like Zahna Williams, owner of Bundles by Z, and Emani Harris, owner of fashion apparel brand Pish Posh, who haven’t met the status of billionaire - yet - and are students? Here is your guide to balancing being an entrepreneur from the astonishing millennial entrepreneurs themselves.

Zahna Williams is the owner of Bundles of Z. Williams is an “entrepreneurial hair stylist and trendsetter with a flair for bringing out the best in of her clients”. Besides owning her own business, Williams is also a graduate student at University of North Carolina at Greensboro in the K Initial Licensure Graduate program. Williams says her passion for styling hair and selling quality hair extensions is only doable because of her support system including her immediate family, a few friends, her boyfriend, his family, and of course her clients.

Similar to Williams, Pish Posh’s owner Emani Harris balances school and being an entrepreneur through time management. Pish Posh is a thriving clothing line that Harris, who is now a graduating senior majoring in pre-law, started as a college sophomore at North Carolina A&T State University. What makes Pish Posh different? “Every inch is hand painted”. Contrary to Williams who has two assistants to help, Harris does pretty much everything on her own despite the minimal shipping assistance her friend gives her and says what keeps her going is that “it’s so big, and people must understand that I am alone, and I can’t do everything alone”.

Both Williams and Harris want to be bigger than they are now. For Williams, her dream is having a multi-million dollar hair line and owning a chain of salons mainly in North Carolina. Harris says her family struggles push and inspire her to own her own boutiques, style celebrities and become global!

Williams and Harris share a few key things to keep in mind before starting your business:

  1. Evaluate your business skills and goals.
  2. Find what suits you the best.
  3. Know your competitors.
  4. Have an unbeatable business plan. 
  5. Seek out a qualified mentor, if possible.

Many of us are told at a young age that college is highly needed in today’s world and that a high school diploma isn’t worth much. But what if you feel like your goals or dreams in life can’t be taught from a college or university curriculum guide? “I feel that college has made me greater because I have enhanced many skills such as time management skills, people skills and organization skills,” says Williams. “Also, being in college has allowed me to meet and network with different people.”

On the opposite hand, although Harris believes that college is consuming and she’s ready to graduate, college is where Pish Posh began! Harris also believes that you must be willing to work with people despite their experience or “popularity”. “This allows your brand to be seen by another audience that you may have never been able to reach without them,” says Harris. If you’re looking for where promote your brand, social media is a great place to start. Both Williams and Harris believe that social media is a great way to promote your work and allows you to meet a larger clientele, than your city or state and possibly go global!

Some may consider having a backup plan just in case their entrepreneurial dream doesn’t work out the way they planned, while others don’t. Besides running and loving her hair company, Williams has an undergraduate degree in Child Development & Family Studies and if needed, her backup plan would be to work with children and become a curriculum specialist with her degree. For others like Harris, the words “backup plan” don’t exist, and Harris says “Pish Posh will succeed”.

Despite the difficulties of being a student and a business owner, you must realize that you can’t necessarily say that one is more important than the other. You have to learn how to multitask and not have too much pride to refuse help. This allows your brand to be bigger than yesterday. Always give your all and remember when balancing school, life, and work, it is difficult to have a “normal” life and make time for family and friends. But this is your passion, and sacrifice=success.

So prioritizing and time management is important, but what keeps these two ladies going every day? Is it the popularity, money or opportunities? It’s their passion! Both Williams and Harris want to be rising entrepreneurs to know that although you are going to struggle, expand your brand, work with others despite their experience, know your next move in silence, pray and keep a positive attitude! Use college as the building block for your business. It’s where some of your biggest supporters, customers, clients and obstacles will begin!