Creating a business plan takes a lot of time. But you can get help. Consultants can be valuable, but to save money, find out if there’s a qualified college intern who could carry some of the load. Many college courses require students to participate in internships. With the right intern and a carefully structured project, they can help turn your business concept into something closer to a completed business plan. Here are some tips for developing that perfect internship:
Find someone interested in your industry. Looking for someone with the specific skills you need is important, but they have to be excited about your business or you won’t get as much useful work from them. College students are very busy; you need to be the project they want to work on.
Look in all the right places. It may seem obvious, but make the effort to contact local colleges to find out which programs and professors require internships, and how to post your opening. Find out how their timing works out; no point in offering an internship when students are unavailable (exams, breaks, etc).
Pay them something. You can’t always afford to pay them, and sometimes college programs won’t allow their students to get paid. But be willing to pay something. With a paid intern, you can work out specific working hours, and get higher on their priority list. Sometimes unpaid interns work out great, but don’t take that for granted.
Be clear about the task. The biggest complaint students have about internships is that the job was poorly defined. Spend the time to think through and write up what you want the intern to do — research, interviews, analysis, writing, etc — and what results you expect from that work.
Help them learn, and have fun. They’ll do their job best if you do your job, which includes truly bringing them into the business (warts and all), making sure they learn new and improved skills, and that they do something to their resume. And make it fun for them!
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For more resources, see our Library topic Business Planning.