Due to hard economic times, the youth unemployment rate is higher than ever. As students seek alternative ways to earn money, starting their own businesses is becoming more popular.
Waiting until after graduation to start a business is considered too late by many, but it is difficult to handle both business planning and studying. Therefore, students use vacations to attend business seminars and meetings with pre-entrepreneurs.
According to a survey done by www.bizhouse.co.kr, a business portal, of 470 university students, 34.8 percent want to start businesses to commercialize their ideas, and 22.4 percent to avoid unemployment.
Among those considering starting their own business, 23.3 percent said their endeavors will be related to their majors. Another 35.4 percent said their major is not an important factor. Food service garnered the most interest, followed by venture and education businesses.
“Although working at a company guarantees a stable income, I did not like the fact that there were no immediate results from my efforts,” said Moon Moon-kyu (Business, Seoul National University Graduate School), the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Kumha Steel & Stainless. “So I started to gain business knowledge and experience by working for my friend’s father. I borrowed half the money needed for my business from my friend’s father and used my savings for the rest.”
“On the other hand, a disadvantage is that there is the burden of making all the decisions. So my partner always helps me. My case is special because my business partner is my best friend. When we are talking about business, I feel comfortable.”
Moon and his business partner, Jung Jung-won (Seoul National University, ’06), have known each other since elementary school and walked parallel paths their whole lives.
Moon that while pre-entrepreneurial seminars can help students move towards their dreams, the knowledge they acquire from seminars is not enough to start a business right away. There is quite a gap between the reality of starting a business and what people generally think.
“A piece of advice for those starting a business, volition is the key to success,” Moon said. “In other words, it’s not about applying what you have learned. Instead, the mindset that you will do your best is important.”
There are also students who have started a business through an enterprise inauguration club. Five students who majored in Oriental Medicine at Kyung Hee University founded “Hanbang Chocolate Gamcho.” They were members of a club called, “Kyung Hee Hanyak 21” and released three new products made of chocolate and Oriental medicine called “Slim,” for obesity prevention, “Smile,” for stress relief, and “Brain” for memory enhancement. These products became so popular during the Valentine season that they raised 10 million won in two weeks. Their products can still be found in stores.
“We went through all kinds of tests including animal testing and toxicity testing and spent countless nights working on the products until they were released,” said Choi Eun-sook (Kyung Hee University, ’06), the CEO of Hanbang Chocolate Gamcho.
“Instead of working at a Chinese medicine hospital, I wanted to apply my knowledge in a more creative job,” said Kim Hyun-soo (Kyung Hee University, ’05), co-CEO of Hanbang Chocolate Gamcho.
Experts recommended that would-be entrepreneurs know what they are getting into before they take plunge.
“Many university students consider starting a business an alternative to working under a company, but only a few are ready to actually start one,” said An Jung-hun, the executive director of the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Franchise Management Consulting. “Starting a business requires more than they think: more than a hundred million won in capital and professional knowledge. Therefore, it is best to first accumulate enough money and to gradually learn more about business before jumping in.”