Starting A Business At University takes hard work, determination and focus.
Here are some tips for starting your own business as an undergraduate, which we think will maximise your chances of success.
1. Are You Making The Most Of Your Time?
Once the buzz of your Fresher’s week dies down and you settle into undergraduate life, you’ll quickly find you have a lot of time on your hands. But are you making the most of it?
Be sure to utilise the hours you have that are not allocated to study or leisure. Business development also means getting to know the field you’re striving to one day position yourself in. With this in mind, is there a part time job you could find in your industry of choice? You may meet someone you later work for, so it could pay both now and later, to think strategically.
Volunteering is also a great way to spend those precious hours. What you put into your industry in the early days, you’re more likely to get out later on. You can demonstrate loyalty and commitment to the field or industry you see yourself in eventually, whilst still studying. You may also meet some incredibly well placed individuals.
Map out your time, and place the up most value in the days, weeks, months and years that stretch ahead of you. During university, you’ll be spoiled with generous summer holidays, which are the perfect time for business development.
The best long term plans are made through conscientious forward planning.
2. Are You Utilising Your Surroundings?
University presents a rare and exciting opportunity; an abundance of resources everywhere you look. This is the perfect backdrop for any would-be entrepreneur or a business owner.
Familiarise yourself with your surroundings because the chances are, they’re free to use whilst you’re enrolled at the university. And you’ll have generous access to most things, perhaps 24/7 access even.
Get to know your on campus library, or the high tech labs and kit available to use for students. Recognise that every space has been designed with students, and education, in mind. So get to know every crevice of your new playground, as you carve out your new business.
And your surroundings include your fellow students too. Your University is likely to be populated by young people, from diverse backgrounds, with varying interests. Every concept needs a sample or focus group to bounce ideas off.
Talk to people about your business, sound out ideas or hold informal market research sessions. Because without an audience, a business is just an idea.
3. Are You Building Connections?
Never underestimate the power of people to bring an idea to life, even in the early days of your business. A fundamental, and arguably the most important part of your University experience, is the connections you’ll make and friendships you’ll forge.
Especially if you want to start your new venture whilst you’re at University. As the storefront to your new business idea, what connections are you building with the people around you?
Engaging with current students, former students and internationally paired Universities, could mean your business is more likely to expand or improve. Meaningful connections with the right people, can be priceless.
Take note of the lecturers or academics you meet or are taught by too. They may be figureheads in the sector you’re interested in developing within – or perhaps they’re retired from a successful career in industry. When you’re confident enough about your business model, be bold and seek guidance from the people who could be experts.
Who knows, the people you meet with at University might one day be business partners, investors or even competitors.
4. Are You Creating a Brand Presence?
It’s never too soon to create a presence for your brand, especially in an age of the internet and social media. Never underestimate the power of the free tools available online, to help you build your business empire. Whilst you’re at University, use laptop time to expand your knowledge of the best apps and software for new business owners.
Websites can be free and easy to build, and whilst you navigate the intricacies of your business model, even a holding page can be effective. Once you’re ready to go live, registering domain names can be a great first official step for your brand, and are a relatively low-level investment. And as the internet expands, a good domain name is a rare find, and it could be worth its weight in gold to you further down the line. So, snap it up.
If you’re not in a place to start building a website, you can look to social media to help build your brand presence. Some of the biggest new brands and digital businesses to emerge in the last decade have sat solely on Instagram and YouTube. You can easily keep on top of social channels, create content and engage with followers of your brand through your device or tablet. Be mindful of what you’re posting, and consider the permanency the internet has. Use software like Canva.com, a free to use graphic design tool, to help create templates for your social media output or any digital marketing.
5. Are You Being Sensible?
University is, for most, a one time thing – it’s 3 or 4 years of your life, you’ll never be able to relive. Your new business is important, and should remain important if you’re focused on success, but don’t lose sight of why you went to University in the first place. Strike a balance between investing enough time, but not too much time. Don’t neglect too many people or opportunities for the sake of your business, because in the end, it could be at the expense of your University experience.
As a rule of thumb, do not spend your student loan on investments for your business. University is not a time for you to take financial risks on behalf of your new venture. As a business owner, that time may indeed come down the line but for now, enjoy the financial stability and creative freedom further education offers. And likewise, save pulling all nighters for when you need to submit University papers, not fretting over your business model. Don’t invest too much of your time, or energy – otherwise you might start running at a loss.
6. Are You Prepared To Fail?
Arguably the most important tip for any entrepreneur or business owner, and one you’ve definitely heard before, but are you ready to fail? With so many businesses failing in the first year of launch, are you prepared that your new idea might not take off?
As you develop your idea, use this time to connect with people and make the use of your surroundings in every sense. Be open to hearing about why other businesses fail. As you expand your brand, and explore your industry further, seek out examples of the setbacks those before you had. And be prepared for your own. Learn to take criticism and to be constructive with your own feedback. Don’t be too proud.
You may be itching to start your new business, but if you believe in it enough, you’ll make space for it eventually.