Low-cost foreign suppliers are making it possible for people with limited cash—including many college students—to start their own businesses.
In a growing trend across college campuses, students are taking just a few thousand dollars they've saved and investing in well-priced goods found on sites like Alibaba.com and AliExpress, according to news reports. This not only gives these young entrepreneurs a way to have a business, it also makes their businesses international, as many of the suppliers they deal with are located overseas.
"If you start a company tomorrow, you can be global your first day," says Dane Stangler, a manager at the Kauffman Foundation, a nonprofit organization that encourages entrepreneurship.
College students are also demanding more businesses classes, further showing young America's renewed entrepreneurial spirit. At USC's Marshall School of Business, enrollment in classes that show students how to start their own businesses has reportedly increased by 30 percent in three years. Northwestern University has added six entrepreneurship classes for undergrads since 2007 because of the increased demand, and many other campuses are doing the same. Technology is also helping spur business development by bridging geological gaps through resources like Skype and live chat that allow entrepreneurs on this side of the world to talk and negotiate prices with sellers located abroad.
The increasing movement toward self-employment is likely the result of the country's current economic state and the lack of employment opportunities, officials say. While in the past, students waited until after college to begin their own businesses, or expected to join a company after school, the lackluster job market is making them think outside the box—and look for other ways to make money. And as more students try sites like Alibaba and AliExpress, many are finding success and sharing tips with their peers.
"The enthusiasm for entrepreneurship is at an all-time high," says William Aulet, managing director of MIT's Entrepreneurship Center. "The rock stars here are the entrepreneurs. It's not the people who go to Wall Street."
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Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.