On average one in three people aged 18-24 are in full-time education. Each year around 1.5 million people graduate from university. Most of these graduates will go into employment or a graduate scheme, but there are some who will choose the self-employment path.
So, how do you go about setting up a business whilst at university, or after graduating, and is there a proven formula for success?
How degrees are taught has changed over the decades. Instead of focusing on ideas taught from textbooks, students are involved in group discussions and open debates. They are encouraged to draw on real-life experiences and to explore their creative thinking.
It could be that during one of these group discussions or debates you may have seen that there is a ‘gap’ in the market for a new product or service. You’ll have to decide if you want to act on it now or wait until you have some business experience behind you?
Without realising it, the three or four years you spent at university could have provided you with the skillset that is needed to be a great entrepreneur. Successful entrepreneurs often have the following qualities:
These, amongst others, are some of the qualities that you may have developed during your time at university.
Ultimately, the reason you want to be your own boss is that you want control over your career and can’t face working for anyone else and being told what to do.
As well as a sense of pride you’ll have for building your own business, there are several other reasons why becoming an entrepreneur could be better than working for someone else.
With nearly 10% of businesses failing within their first year, you’ll have to be sure that your business idea has longevity.
These are some of the business ventures that are popular with recent graduates.
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Now that you’ve decided on an idea, you’ll need funds to get it started. It is possible to start a business on a minuscule budget but having a solid financial base on which to build a business is important. Apart from your friends and family, there are several ways you can fund your startup. You might be able to fund it from your own savings. However, with the average student debt running into the tens of thousands, this may not always be an option.
Other routes include using money from your student loan, overdraft or credit card. If you choose this route, make sure you are aware of the interest rate and penalty charges associated with each.
If you have a unique and even quirky business idea you may find that crowdfunding could work for you. The benefits of crowdfunding are that it can provide financial support when traditional lenders won’t help and it’s an incredibly cost-effective and quick way to raise finance. On the downside, it may mean you will have to give individuals equity in your business and on some platforms, if you don’t hit your target you won’t get access to any of the money raised.
A business mentor may be willing to provide financial assistance. If not, they should be able to direct to you organisations that offer business grants, such as the Princes Trust Grant and the government’s Start Up Loan.
Whilst running your business is hugely rewarding it can also be lonely. At some point, you will face yourself in a situation where you’re unsure what to do. At times like this, you’ll need the support and guidance of others.
If you feel like you’ve exhausted your current support network, broaden it. There are numerous places where you can seek counsel. The best starting point is your personal network. Friends and family can be a valuable source of information. Between them, they could have accumulated years of business experience and will likely have been in a situation like what you are facing.
Financial institutions have extended their service offering beyond bank accounts and ISA’s. They offer a wealth of small business advice and run local business networking events and workshops, such as ‘How to perfect your business pitch’, and ‘Improve your presenting skills’.
Business mentors can greatly enhance your business’ chance of success. Amongst other things, a mentor will provide practical advice, support and most importantly, encouragement. When times get tough or you find yourself going through a quiet patch, it can be tempting to pack it all in. A mentor, will offer assurance and help you to develop strategies to deal with this.
As well as being a great communication tool, social media is a valuable source of business advice and guidance. Check out Facebook networking groups that are aimed at small businesses. Find one that is in your area or that operates in your business niche.
If you're yet to settle on an idea, we've looked at some of the most popular ventures and what you need to make a successful business.Read more
We've condensed everything you need to know to get your business up and running into a 20-day action plan. Are you ready?Read more
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