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Graduating To Entrepreneurship: Starting A Business Straight After University

Are you coming to the end of your degree and aren’t sure what to do next? Or, have you graduated recently, gone into the working world, and realised you want something more fulfilling? Starting your own business could be what you’re looking for. 

If this sounds exciting but scary, don’t panic, you’ll be joining thousands of other graduates who have decided to set up their own business. 

We chatted with two graduates-turned-business owners, to find out about the highs and lows of starting a business straight out of university.


Custom Planet

Custom Planet

Andy Dark is a co-founder of Custom Planet, a branding company supplying printed clothing and promotional items, ranging from t-shirts and hoodies to mugs and mouse mats. Their HQ is based in Newcastle Upon Tyne. Andy along with his friend John Armstrong set up Custom Planet whilst they were both still at university. 

“Our original business idea was based on selling original pin badge designs. Whilst this business venture wasn’t too successful, it sowed the seeds for wanting to work for ourselves.” 

“Whilst at university and in the early days of the business, myself and John worked in bars to fund the business and to give us some cash to live off until we could take a wage from the business.”



“We initially worked out of my bedroom at my parent’s house. We’ve now invested over £200,000 in the business. Some of this investment has been spent on acquiring our own factory unit, which is about 200 times the size of my old bedroom. We also employ 15 people on a full-time basis.”

“Being your own boss means you’ll have to learn to juggle many things at once. There is always something else we need to do or some milestone to get to. We soon realised that the real hard work starts after setup, when you need to sell your product to bring the money in.” 



“I think starting a business fresh out of university is possibly the best time to do it, as you don’t have the stress of paying a mortgage or bills and providing for a family. This allows you the freedom to start small and learn from your inexpensive mistakes.” 

“My top tip for anyone who is thinking of starting a business after graduation is to believe in yourself and make sure you learn from others’ failures, as well as your own!” 



RMP Filmmakers

RMP Filmmakers 

The idea for RMP Filmmakers was born by founder Jack Ashley in the last year of his degree at the Arts University College, Bournemouth. RMP Filmmakers, produce corporate and business videos, adverts and animations. 

“I had no idea what I wanted to do after I graduated. It was also a time when the recession was hitting businesses hard and job opportunities were slim.”

“I knew one thing. I didn’t want to end up in just any 9 to 5 job. I wanted to work in an industry where I could use my creativity.”



“My passion for film led me to contact a local film production company. They were very accommodating and agreed to show me around their studio. I suppose this could be classed as my ‘defining moment’ because following the visit I was full of inspiration and thought to myself, I can do this!”

“Starting a business with no experience was extremely tough. We faced rejection after rejection from businesses. Not to be put off, myself and a group of friends borrowed some equipment and started making films. These films gave us a product we could show to potential clients.”

“Success didn’t happen overnight and for the first two years, I worked 24/7 getting the business off the ground for little or no pay. Even though at times it was exhausting, the sense of achievement when things did start to happen was unbeatable.”



“I’ve seen the film industry change drastically since I started the business. We started as a corporate film production company but since the growth of video on social media, we have had to adapt our approach. People’s attention span on social media is short which means filmmakers must approach it in a new way.”

If you are serious about running your own business, the first thing to do is to ask for advice from family and friends and mentors, as they may be able to offer you a different perspective.

Jack Ashley Founder, RMP Filmmakers

Three things to think about before starting a business


Is your business idea workable?

It’s great having an idea that you are passionate about, but it may not always be workable. Before you even begin to take steps to set up the business, map out your idea with a business plan. Be realistic about how much money you will need to set up the business as well as how much revenue you expect to make. 

The majority of small business won’t make a profit within their first year, so you’ll need to consider how you are you going to cover your living costs during this time. 

Discuss your business idea with family and friends and university tutors. These are people who will give you honest feedback. If it’s becoming clear that your original idea won’t work, modify it until it does. 


Is now the right time to do it?

Coming out of university, you probably won’t have many financial commitments. This makes it easier and quicker to setup and run a business. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it is the right time to do it. 

Would you be better off getting some experience behind you before jumping in feet first? Seek guidance from others, like a business mentor, before making a decision. 


Can you fund it?

Every business idea needs capital to get it off the ground and further funding to market the business. Are you able to fund this yourself? Will need help from an investor? Or can you apply for funding from a grant?

Depending on the type of business, startup costs can be kept to a minimum but the investment will be needed to keep the business going. Plus, you’ll need money to cover your day to day living costs. Where is this coming from? 

These are questions you’ll have to ask yourself as your final student loan may not stretch that far. 


For more information on making this transition to entrepreneurship, read our comprehensive guide to setting up a business after university

Emma Saldanha from writtenbyems, is a marketing consultant and copywriter. She has more than 10 years’ experience in content creation, marketing and PR. For more information on making this transition read our comprehensive guide to setting up a business after university

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