Running your own company can be rewarding on many levels, but your success may depend upon what you learn and how you prepare before you announce your plans, open your doors for business, or launch your website. Managing your finances involves more than how much you sell and meeting deadlines involves more than delivering goods or services as promised. Knowledge and planning can make all the difference in terms of business success or failure, and following these top five things you will learn in college that will prepare you to start your own company may keep you on a successful business track.

1. Learn How to Create a Business Plan

Even the best idea may not translate into a successful business without a thorough and realistic plan in place. College is the ideal place to practice and learn how to write a formal business plan, and you may be surprised at how many steps are involved before a final draft is ready. Brainstorming is a great way to get your ideas flowing, and getting your ideas down on paper will give you an idea of how close or far away you are from being ready to start your own company. If you do not have time to go back to a traditional university to earn an advanced degree, you might want to consider enrolling in an online university. You can earn your MBA degree online through a completely accredited institution, which will give you the skills necessary to excel in the business world. Many working professionals take one or two courses online at a time, allowing them to fit their course load into their work schedules easily. Having this additional education at your disposal ensures that you have the ability to create a long-term business plan that will work.

2. Learn About Profit Margins

Whether you plan on selling goods or providing a service, you need to understand what you will spend to do business and how much you will earn. The best way to know this is to know your profit margin, and you should learn how to do so while you are in college. A thorough understanding of net profit margins and operating profit margins will be extremely helpful, and your operating margin will be a good measure of your business profitability.

3. Learn How and Where to Get Funding

It would be rare to start a business without any sort of funding, and this is why having a solid plan to present to prospective investors is so important. Whether you are asking a close friend to support your idea or requesting a formal bank loan, you will have a better chance of getting the money you need if you can justify what you are asking for. Once you are at the point of asking for funding, you should be able to explain potential risks, specific uses for the money you need, and how long it will be before you expect to turn a profit. Depending upon your business focus, your funding may come from commercial financing, real estate financing, equipment leasing, or a loan from the Small Business Association.

4. Learn How to Negotiate

Until you have a signed contract, your intended funding or business connection may be nothing more than an idea. Learning how to close deals with a legal business contract will legally secure your funding and legitimize your business partnerships. Learning how to negotiate involves knowing the facts, knowing what you want, and demonstrating that your proposal will benefit everyone that will be part of the business.

5. Learn How to Keep Things Moving

You may understand the importance of meeting delivery deadlines, but there are many areas where you may lose ground if you are not careful. As a business owner you should know how to communicate effectively with each interaction, and this is the sort of thing that you may learn during classroom discussions. Whether you are presenting reports, leaving voicemails, or running meetings, your communication should be succinct, specific, and result in progress. Any phone message you leave or email you send should provide needed information, and your reports should be no more than one page long if possible.

Going to college can help prepare you for exceptional business opportunities. Good instruction and classroom interactions can help you develop your business aptitude as well. If you develop your skills at planning, negotiating, and communicating, you may experience a career as a successful business owner.

Author Bio: Andrew Deen is a blogger that focuses on producing informative articles on project management and starting your own business.

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