No one said it would be easy they just said it would be worth it. There are a whole host of graduate schemes and graduate-level entry jobs available for students fresh out of University. For many, this highly structured career pathway suits them perfectly, but for some, forging their own unique route through life holds far greater appeal. If this sounds like you, you may be the ideal candidate for launching your own start-up business.
The pros and cons of starting a business straight from Uni
Now you may think that starting a business straight after University is too fraught with cons to be a good idea; you may lack real world or industry experience and your ever-growing student debt probably means you have little in the way of savings to get started. But an increasing number of new graduates are launching highly successful businesses straight out of Uni, or even during their studies. There are many, many advantages of being a new graduate when it comes to launching a start-up business.
Your situation means risks are likely to be minimal
The likelihood is that you won’t yet have children to support or the financial burden of a mortgage. Although it’s not something you necessarily want to consider, if your idea does fail, you are in a position to just put it down to experience and continue on down a different road or perhaps even onto your next start-up venture.
You are privy to gaps in the market
University is a very sociable environment, making your time there perfect for creating future business connections and networking with potential associates. Plus, you have an abundance of potential customers and employees surrounding you. On top of this, you probably spent a lot of your time in Uni getting out and about, which puts you in a great position to spot business opportunities around you.
You can benefit from the ‘student mentality’
As a new graduate, the chances are you have been used to the student way of living. You have probably put up with living somewhere ‘cheap and cheerful’, worked through the night and survived off 20p noodles before your student loan came in. Well, that mentality can actually stand you in good stead for starting a business. If you are prepared to endure delayed gratification for your efforts, you could really reap the rewards in the long run.
Erika Watson of Prowess.Org blogs about it succinctly in How University can open your mind to enterprise.
You can draw upon freshly learned skills
University will have equipped you with a wealth of transferable skills. These are ideal for starting your own business. The benefit of having just graduated is that you can draw upon those skills without having to delve into dusty corners of grey matter to find them!
Support is in abundance
There is an insane amount of financial support available for new graduates wanting to start their own business. That support comes in two forms; the first being financial help and the second is great advice and mentoring. As a starting point, try contacting your University. It’s likely they will have their own enterprise society. This will offer grants to help you get your business off the ground.
The government also offer plenty of schemes and loans designed to help young budding entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life. This support is often provided at a regional level so check out which ones you’re eligible for at https://www.gov.uk/business-finance-support-finder. If you have clearly identified a gap in the market with an idea that is scalable and potentially profitable, there will be some form of funding available to you.
Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation
It is vital that you are well prepared before diving straight into making your business a reality, however tempting this may be. This preparation will also put you in the strongest position possible when it comes to convincing potential funders you’re a dedicated and thorough individual who really means business.
The business plan is your first step on the road to entrepreneurial success. Drawing up a detailed business plan will help you work out the potential profitability of your new venture over your first couple of years. Your business plan is the most important tool you have in getting potential lenders or investors to believe in your vision. Taking the time to get it right will pay off. If you are struggling with any aspect of your plan there are free services to help you.
The smarter you are when setting up your business, the less funding you’ll need. This will then be easier it will be to obtain. In addition, you need to bear in mind that the funding you secure will need to be paid back. Don’t delay your business’ profitability by taking out unnecessarily large loans to get started. Keep set up costs to a bare minimum and you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.
Research your options
Once you have everything in place, you can start to look more closely at the funding options available to you. Don’t just apply for the first thing you see, nor should you send out a truckload of applications on impulse. Make the effort to find the ones for which you meet ALL the criteria. This may actually save yourself time in the long run. Incomplete applications will most likely be rejected. Be sure you provide all the information needed, including detailed profit forecasts and a breakdown of set-up costs. Again, if you are struggling with these, seek help and advice – it is out there!
Lenders and investors can be inundated with applications for finance. Don’t expect to hear back straight away. Equally, when you do eventually obtain your funding don’t expect to turn it into a profit immediately; businesses rarely make a profit in their first months or years of operation. Instead of spending the first year of your business chasing the pounds, use that time to chase your vision…the pounds will inevitably follow.
Published Sunday January 6, 2013