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Side Hustle to Business Owner | Entrepreneurship in College

Some college students begin their undergraduate years with business ideas, and some find ways to make those ideas into their side hustle. With the right mentors and resources, that side hustle can become a full time business venture after graduation comes along. Whether it’s a passion for baking, a love of producing music or a desire to sell clothing for missions, college is the perfect season of life to test the waters and further develop your entrepreneurial strategies by allowing college classmates, friends and professors to support your art, your craft or your innovative product.

Southeastern’s entire community is supportive to students who are discovering the balance between their classroom learning and honing in on their God-given talents, and helps them find how to meld these into a career. Whether they’re completing their degrees, have already started a business, or are balancing both, one thing’s for sure — this is the place to be while you’re learning about entrepreneurship.

Kandace Crosby — Nook Bakery

Southeastern University’s list of business-minded students goes on. For example, Kandace Crosby founded Nook Bakery right here in Lakeland. Her love of baking started in sixth grade when she made her first batch of homemade cupcakes. She laughed as she recalled that, “They were absolutely horrible. The texture, look, everything about them was wrong. But instead of getting frustrated and giving up, I took that energy and decided to just keep going at it.”

With family and friends as her taste testers, she kept baking as a side hustle all the way through her time at Southeastern, where she eventually started selling her cupcakes at Portico, the campus coffeehouse. She also sold her products at the Downtown Farmers Curb Market in Lakeland.

It’s now been a full year since she graduated from Southeastern, and Crosby says, “SEU was the perfect launch pad for Nook. I had two jobs, school, plus the farmers’ market. But it was great for me because I really learned how to use my time wisely.”

Something Crosby hadn’t initially taken into account was how much research went into not just making her products, but also sustaining her business with the right licensing and permits. She admits that it’s not always easy to stay motivated with the “mundane” parts of the business, such as tax season and establishing an LLC. However, she learned that it’s vital to find pockets of creativity no matter what you’re doing. Crosby is now able to fully focus on her business, and keeps busy with nearly constant orders.

David DePerez

Now heading into his senior year at SEU, David DePerez (who goes by the artist name Day Bit), is finding himself going from his side hustle of making “little random songs all throughout high school” to producing music for himself and other artists, including SEU Worship.

“I love my art,” he says. “SEU has taught me so much about both music and business. I’ve learned that being passionate about my music is one part of success, which led me to learning more about the business side. Now I feel that it’s all fun.”

Matt Buck

“College is an incredible time to build relationships with peers and professors,” says Matt Buck, a senior majoring in both Intercultural Studies and Marketing.

“Before I got to SEU, it was really hard for me to find motivation for school,” says Buck. “Then once I arrived, I realized that there are so many people here that I can learn from on both a personal and professional level.” Buck advises students to remember that even if they are not sure how what they’re learning in class or in their college experiences will benefit them, they probably will later. “You realize how much you’ve truly learned once a situation arises where that knowledge is put to good use.”

Good Advice

One of the most valuable things we can do as college students is ask as many questions as possible. We’re in the best place to learn from others — what has and hasn’t worked for them.

Crosby says, “It’s not going to be as easy as you think. We’re always told we can do anything. But, sometimes hearing that makes it feels like it’s just going to come easy. What you need to know is that there’s so much hard work behind every success story.”

DePerez adds, “You can’t care about what people think. It’ll make you lie to yourself and you’ll start to believe you aren’t good at something. At the end of the day, what God has called you to is part of who you are. Start now, so that in five years you won’t wish you’d started sooner.”

As the Dean of Southeastern’s Jannetides College of Business & Entrepreneurial Leadership, and as an entrepreneur, Dr. Lyle Bowlin advises, “While working on a new business, or as a student, it is important to become a really good at managing your time. Both take a combination of discipline and passion.”

“The passion will get you started, but when the more mundane parts of a business effort kick in, you will need discipline to continue moving forward with your ideas.”As practical advice, Dr. Bowlin offers, “Most entrepreneurs are passionate about their ideas. So, at first your creative side will be leading the way. However, once you have told your story you will need to have the numbers to back it up and close the deal. At that point you need to fully understand the business side.”

As we continue to cultivate our entrepreneurship, SEU is here to give us resources, show us how to take risks, and chase what sets our hearts on fire.

By Lily Garay, Organizational Leadership major at SEU

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