Employment was difficult enough in the past, but the war jitters and ongoing economy recession has made it an almost impossible proposition. Many students are taking a year off, trying to rethink their future goals, or studying to meet the qualifications for English examination scores and computer skills. But here is another thought: Instead of trying to get into a business, why not create one yourself?
Jung Go-woon (Clothing and Textiles, 2) is only 20 years old, but she is already a co-founder and the president of her very own business, Butterfly Shock(http://butterflyshock.com). Butterfly Shock is a SOHO clothing mall on the Internet, already making profits over 5,000,000 won a month. The word SOHO is a combination of Small Office and Home Office, referring to a whole new form of employment.
As computer technology and networking have greatly improved, more and more people are taking their work home from their offices. Within this trend SOHO is different in that give people the option to open up and actually be in charge of their own businesses. SOHO is especially convenient for young people, often females, because of the absence of age or gender limits, and also because the work can often be carried out along with housework. This, of course, also works as a big incentive for students who do not have the experience of working full-time.
Though Jung decided to enroll in the Division of Human Ecology in hopes of becoming a fashion designer, she says she did not dare to think of opening up her own business. "But then, about a year ago, Internet shopping created a sudden boom in the marketing business. I found out about the SOHO malls and how they work. and I thought to myself, "Hey, I could do that." So I gathered few friends to run the business together, and got started."
Because SOHO malls do not require a big sum of capital to start up, many jump at the chance without giving it a second thought. It is estimated that the number of SOHO malls listed on the portal website Yahoo (http://www.yahoo.co.kr) nearly doubled during last three weeks. But as easy as it sounds, it takes quite a lot of work to keep your feet on the ground. According to Daum (http://www .daum.net), of the 540 new SOHO shops that have opened up, 113 of them were suspended and 74 shops were closed down:"It takes more than just effort and passion, you"ve got to have some expertise. Consumers of our shop come to us to buy something they cannot get on the streets. We are a specialized, customized shop that deals with those needs," says Jung.
Jung believes that before opening up any business, in-depth market research is a requisite: "I went through every single store at Dongdaemun. I still visit the place at least once a week, to keep up with the latest fashion trend and to see if any new goods have come in. Fashion is a fast-changing line of work, and idleness is especially not allowed.
Advertising is another big factor that controls the fate of one"s business, according to Jung: "SOHO malls are specialized shops. You cannot distribute brochures to a mass of unspecified people and be done with it. So we used email to specifically reach our target customers - young women who enjoy clubbing, aged 20 to 25." Jung then joined a number of Daum communities associated with Hongik clubs, and sent invitation mail to the people who fit into her customer target profile. And it worked.
Jung wishes to encourage other students to be daring when thinking about starting up a business: "I think the students should know that opening up a business is not as hard as it sounds. There are plenty of opportunities for the students, if only they will look hard enough for them."
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