Being a small business owner in College
- Day in the life of a small business owner
Some of you may know that I’m Kobe Harris, a second-year student at Loyola-University of Chicago, and have started my own environmentally conscious company-Kobees co.. I decided to start my own business because I wanted to be able to create something that exemplified my personal brand, was innovative, and supported a much larger global cause- I figured college is the perfect place to start-. Tons of innovative minds, endless possibilities with multiple demographics, and instant access to thousands of people who could be influenced by and ultimately support my new “buzzing” brand.
Starting your own business comes with a lot of responsibility and planning if you want it to work. I’m going to give you a bees view of a typical day for me, as well as tips to stay productive and utilize your time wisely as a college student.
To start, before I go to bed at night, I usually write out a list of things I need to do in the morning. I have two separate lists, one for school related tasks, such as upcoming assignments, test and quizzes I need to be prepared for. The other list consists of things I need to do for Kobeesco , such as reviewing and responding to emails from customers and potential partners, social media management, and upcoming events I need to be prepared for. My days vary since this is not my full-time job (yet), and since I am still in the initial phases of building the Kobeesco brand things can be inconsistent at times-the lists help keep me focused on the right things for steady and consistent progress-.
6:30am: Wake up in the morning, start a cup of coffee and hop in the shower. Like most of you, I have class during the day, so I have to plan my busy schedule accordingly. . After I hop out of the shower, I usually throw on a podcast, put a bagel in the toaster and get dressed. I will usually sit around for about 20 minutes, checking email, and looking over my list of things I need to accomplish for the day. Monday and Wednesday, I have class downtown at 8:15am, which is about a 30-45-minute commute by bus, depending on the morning traffic. I try to catch the 7:30am bus to ensure I am in class on time. If I don’t have an early class, I will package recent online orders and make sure to get to the post office when it opens at 8am.. If I’m not heading to the post office, I will usually take inventory and organize remaining supplies, determine and order product to support new orders based on marketing activity, upcoming events and previous demand. .
8:30-12:30 – If it’s the weekend, I will usually spend this time reading or doing homework , but most often I will make products. I set aside time every Saturday and Sunday to spend making the chapstick or developing new products. I try to “bulk up” for a week of selling around campus or an event that will require large amounts of inventory.
The Kobbesco Way
Making the chapstick consists of gathering and organizing all the ingredients to be melted down, but the bulk of time consists of filling each individual tube, maturation process (letting it harden) and then labeling individual tubes or tins. During the school week, I don’t have class between 8:30 and 12:30, so I would either work at my internship for a few days a week or alternatively, use those hours to do more research on the business or reading books/listening to music or podcasts.
12:30-1:30ish – This is my time to relax and make some lunch. As a college student there can be a lot of pressure for us to do the most whether it be getting an A in a class, working to make money, joining clubs, or doing research. Whatever it may-be you need to remember to take at least an hour or two (if you have it) for yourself. Watch your favorite show, go for a walk, go to the gym, or hang out with friends. My time is usually spent watching a good Netflix show, cooking or hanging out with friends.
2pm-6pm: Every day, during this time, I have class, so this time will usually be spent doing homework for classes, or more research on the business because for me I learn better by studying on my own time. Class ends around 5:15 and I have to wait to take the shuttle back to campus, on the bus I’m usually reading listening to music or talking to friends.
6-8pm: Once back to campus, I will typically grab some food, sit and talk for awhile, or on occasion head to the gym and play some basketball, but most times I will head back to my dorm and nap for about an hour.
8-11:30pm: Sadly, this time is usually spent doing homework for my classes, as much as I would love to put all my time into my business, I also came to school to get a degree, so I have to keep myself in check sometimes and make sure to motivate myself to make school a top priority, along with my business. It does come with some sacrifices, but nothing that won’t be worthwhile if I stay focused.
11:30pm-1am-ish – I try not to do any schoolwork past 11:30pm because it usually is not very productive, and I will just end up wasting time in the process. This time is usually spent eating snacks, reading in an attempt wind down my mind, and writing my list of things I need to get done for the next day.
As you can see being a business owner in college isn’t much different than anything you guys do on daily basis. Everyone has an agenda and tasks they need to accomplish- mine just consist of working on my business while yours could be, doing research, going to a club meeting or studying for a big exam. One of the most important things I try to do every day that I didn’t mention above is to NETWORK.I like to talk to people and get to know them, because you never know what someone is up to. We go to a college with plenty of resources and people if you know where to look. My focus is to get my business to become sustainable, and positioned to become as big as the mission it supports to make a positive climate impact.
In order to accomplish this, one of the first things I did in the fall was email one of Loyola’s environmental science professors to see if they were doing any research relevant to my company. I am not an environmental science major; I am a business Finance major. Just reaching out and asking people for help is a big step. Even if they say no, at least you tried. I’ve joined clubs around Chicago that are focused on educating people on climate change, and trying to raise awareness on plastic in our environment, and it’s negative impact. All in an effort to meet people in my target market and raise awareness for Kobeesco and the global good its positioned to do. As you all have heard, it’s not about what you know, it’s who you know; both are important, but meet as many people as possible and create lasting relationships because you never know how you may be able to help or receive help in the future.
Some tips and skills to stay motivated and utilize your time more efficiently
- Make list!
- One of the most important things for me is to make list daily .It gives me a feeling of accomplishment when I am able to cross something off my list, even if it’s something as small as a sending an email to a colleague or customer. Daily accomplishments keep you motivated!
- Wake up early
- One of the hardest things for me is waking up early, but I would have to say it’s probably one of the most important things on this list. There’s only 24 hours to get the most out of your day. An early start gives you more time to accomplish and create. The jumpstart gives you a competitive advantage.
- Eat Breakfast
- Something like this seems (basic/simple), but very well may be one of the hardest things to do. Whether it be not waking up early enough, or just being too distracted or lazy to make breakfast, I get it. I am guilty of this, but if you just set aside 10 minutes to eat a bowl of cereal or some toast your body and mind will thank you for it. Eating provides the necessary fuel to get your day started and staying motivated.
- Minimizing distractions
- Some distractions can include… loud roommates, music, TV, or the biggest one for me is my phone, which many of you can probably totally relate to. I was sitting with my roommate in the library one day and he was asking people to tell us their screen time on their phones (which all of you should do), and most responses were between 4-6 hours per DAY. 4-6 hours PER DAY! A bulk of that time coming from social media. Stay off your phone, and when you do you will really get of sense of how much time you actually have to be productive.
- Don’t Multitask
- Humans are not made to multitask, no matter how good you think you are. Multitasking will only decrease your productivity. Practice working on one thing at a time. Monotasking allows you to focus more of your energy and brainpower on a single task, which will result in better work all around.
- You don’t have to complete everything
- One of the reasons to make list is to have all of your most important task out in front of you, so you know what you need to prioritize and accomplish. Hopefully these things aren’t due the next day because that will stress you out and it’s not good for your productivity and quality of work.
- Drop the mindset that you need to complete everything the first time around. Arrange your schedule so that you have the appropriate amount of time to finish your work before it’s due. Work on the more important tasks first, and the least important tasks later.
- READ/Listen to BOOKS
- Reading and/or listening is one the most important things/skills I think everyone should have. Reading allows you to expand your thoughts, gain endless amounts of knowledge and keep your mind active. Reading for me allows me to learn whatever I want and not be limited to the classroom. It can also be used as a mentor/mentee relationship. You literally have access to some of the greatest minds in history in a book!
- Stay positive
- Some days are going to be long and hard; you might feel like you want to give up. Try to find a positive in every situation, even if you think you can’t. Staying positive and have a good attitude will help you stay motivated and productive.
- Have a clear vision
- One of the final things I’ll say is to create a clear vision for yourself. If you want to achieve a goal or accomplish a task you need to create a vision, something you can relate to, resonate with, have sustainable passion for. If it doesn’t resonate with you or speak your heart, it won’t motivate you to stay on course. Create the clearest vision possible before getting started because you can only accomplish what you can see. Act small, think big!