Want to start a business while studying? It can be done

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Trying to figure out what you would like to be when you are older can be daunting, especially if your interests are not offered in the form of a university degree. Students have been told, time and time again how limiting the employment sector is without a basic undergraduate and, even in some cases, a post-graduate degree. We do not want to be excluded once it’s time to find a job. The choice is either tertiary education or entering the job market right after Matric. But what if there was a way to start a business while studying (to keep our parents sane)? It can be done.

Starting a business while studying not only upgrades your student budget but allows for the potential of an empire for the future. Two students are proof of this; April Donnelly and Khanyisile Tshabalala. Read their tips and insights on how to juggle a business and school simultaneously.

April Donnelly, a 20-year-old BCom accounting student, started The Don Hair in 2018. She specialises in custom-made wigs which are natural in their appearance. This business was started right in the middle of her second year of accounting. Donnelly explains that her world revolved around school and business because not only was her time compromised but her energy was as well. She advises students to manage your time well and to have a strict work schedule. To not over-work yourself because that will put a strain on the business, school work and your mental state. Stressing the importance of taking time off for yourself. She adds to never be complacent and to always remember why you are doing what you are doing. Eloquently, Donnelly describes her business as “an extension of yourself” meaning that if it failed, it was a personal failure.

Khanyisile Tshabalala is a second-year student at Rhodes University, majoring in Economics and Politics and her minors are philosophy and drama. Contrary to The Don Hair, she started a non-profit youth organisation Kidz of Biko (KOB), which was inspired by being in a space where she was among a lot of white people and became extremely aware of her race and what it meant to be a black young woman. KOB was started to account for the lack of black representation in schools and in society. Her events focus on what is happening in society and the environment, for example poverty. Initially, she started the organisation not thinking it would grow to the capacity that it has.

Juggling school and workload is much easier for Tshabalala than it is for Donnelly because it is centred around students and the community. However at times she’d sacrifice socialising with friends, trying to find stories in places like the townships and in communities. She adds that balance is a huge factor in the success of her studies and KOB. Another huge factor is her passion for the organisation. Her strategy is to do most of the marketing and work for her events on social media and to dedicate time to her organisation as the events happen. This helps Tshabalala because she explains that she can manage her business at any time of the day while doing almost anything.

She advises students who are thinking of starting a business or organisation to just go for it. “You never know if something is for you until you do it. Close your eyes and take a jump and just allow the process to take place because if you try and it’s not for you, you at least know what is for you.”

By Nosipho Mathaba