College graduation – a day filled with excitement, happiness and now … uncertainty. As a senior at USC, I know that many of us in the class of 2011 are wondering what to do next. Today’s pallid economy has left us little to look forward to upon graduation. No wonder so many students are opting to enroll in graduate school in order to “weather the storm” in hopes that the job market will recover after they have earned a couple more letters after their name.

If staying in school for the sake of staying in school is not your thing, here’s another option: Start your own business. Sure, embarking on a new venture in an unpredictable economy is not the safest bet, but a fledgling business during hard times also has the greatest potential for growth. In fact, more people became millionaires during the Great Depression than during any other period of U.S. history.

Although I do not expect to become the next John Deere, I do have some entrepreneurial spirit. So as a college senior confronted with a harsh job market, I decided to instead launch my own business: 2400 Expert, a premier SAT preparation company in Southern California that offers courses by a perfect score SAT instructor. Researching, planning and implementing the launch of a business while juggling midterms has not been easy, but I have developed four fundamental rules that every college entrepreneur should follow.

1) Stick to what you know. Do not try to enter a market in which you have little expertise or knowledge. I chose tutoring because I scored a perfect 2400 on my SAT in high school. My own preparation and success on the SAT gave me the experience and knowledge necessary to enter the test preparation industry. I found a niche in the market that could be filled. Since there are only 1,490 students who have scored a perfect 2400 on the SAT, I knew there couldn’t be much competition. In other words, do something you’re good at.

2) Be reasonable. Every college entrepreneur dreams of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg or Larry Page. But in reality, there is much success to be had even if your business isn’t a worldwide phenomenon. Translate the money-saving savvy you have learned from college to lower your initial overhead. Instead of leasing and furnishing a retail location for my test prep facility, I chose to operate out of Blankspaces, a co-working “virtual” office space in Los Angeles. You can always shop around to get the best bang for your buck. When I wanted to create a professional Web site for my business, I e-mailed the same request to 50 different web design companies. Although some companies gave me outrageous quotes upwards of $10,000, I also found a very talented web designer who built a modern Web site for my business ( at a price that didn’t break the bank.

3) Plan. Then, plan for your plan. If you are going to start a business in college, you need to be organized, which could mean going out less on weekends and working even when midterms are over. During my senior year in college, I planned to brainstorm all of my SAT prep ideas during the fall semester, guerrilla market my SAT prep center during the spring semester and begin SAT prep courses during the summer. Make daily, weekly and monthly goals you need to accomplish. This isn’t college where your professor sets deadlines for you. You need to make your own “syllabus” that outlines exactly what you’ll get done and when. For instance, to make sure I had solid lessons ready for my summer SAT courses, I made sure to get two hours of writing done a day, five times a week.

4) Give something to get something. You have to think in terms of the consumer. Why would a person visit your business or site? If you saw The Social Network, you know how opposed Zuckerberg was to putting advertisements on Facebook until it was “cool” enough for people to logon no matter what. Try to generate a stream of traffic first, then sell your product. For example, when I was developing my site, I thought of what I could give high school students to get them to become 2400 Expert Facebook Fans. I decided that if students became fans and wrote “2400 Expert Rocks!” on my fan page wall, I would give them my SAT Essay Manual for free. This kind of incentive builds my potential sales leads at the expense of giving away only a small portion of my SAT “secrets.” I also decided to give away college scholarships to Southern California high school students as both a promotion for my company as well as a way to give back to the community. has recently indexed my scholarships into its database, which has generated thousands of hits to my site. And so as the age-old adage goes, it is better to give than to receive.

2400 Expert is located at 5405 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 333, Los Angeles. For more information, visit