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.
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!”
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.”