University opens your eyes to so many more experiences than you could possibly imagine, and with an audience of your peers who are always looking for the next big thing, you’ve got the perfect testing ground for setting up your own business.
The reality is that a lot of businesses fail, but even if you don’t end up being the next Mark Zuckerberg, you will learn plenty of skills that could be useful in the world of work, from project management to the entrepreneurial spirit that could make you just the right employee for exciting, innovative companies who are on the lookout for graduates to help drive their business forward.
1. Starting early
When you start your business at university, you have plenty of advantages. Firstly, you have spare time to dedicate to it. But one of the main reasons that holds people back later in life is the responsibility, especially if they have a family to look after and a mortgage to pay. If you take a risk at university and it doesn’t work out, the risks are relatively limited. You can still graduate with a degree and take all the lessons you’ve learnt onto your next idea.
2. A support network
Students may not realise it, but there’s a lot of help for those who want to set up a business at university. One of the first places to go if you’ve got an idea is the university career’s service. They can offer advice on plenty of things, from moulding your idea into a formal business plan, finding funding and helping you to get training in project and financial management.
Elsewhere, there might also be an entrepreneur society or something similar for you to discuss ideas, find like-minded people to work with and learn from those with experience. These societies also offer networking opportunities, perfect if you want to pitch your idea to those who have the right resources to assist. Alumni associations are another great way to get support for your business idea, as well as advice from those who are running their own businesses. A mentor could be just the thing you need to launch the next search engine.
One thing that makes university such a great place to start a business is that you’ve got plenty of people to test your ideas on. You can find out if your new flavour of ice-cream is what the public wants, or if you are wondering if your app idea has what it takes to get off the ground then you’ll find plenty of students who are happy to share their opinions.
A lot of people who set up businesses at university see a gap in the student market, and if this is the case it can make selling your product or service to the right audience so much easier. If all goes well you could expand your idea or product to other campuses around the UK.
Practice what you’ve learnt
There are plenty of university subjects that could inspire your business idea. You might discover an amazing product during your year abroad and set up an import business or use your knowledge of 19th century literature to set up a holiday workshop for schoolchildren.
Bringing an idea from a subject you’re passionate about life through a business can definitely make you feel more enthusiastic about it. Although setting up a business can be a great challenge, it’s important that you still complete your degree alongside it.
Learn when it fails
Your first idea might not work, and your second one may only have limited success. Although it would be nice to run your own business, even when things don’t go exactly the way you planned, there are bound to be valuable skills and things you have learnt which you can use once you decide what you would like to do next. You’ll have had a chance to practice your time and budget management, marketing and communication skills, which will definitely come in handy when you want to apply for a graduate job.