If you are one of the 25% of UK students (45% in the US) planning to start their own business after graduating, you may be asking yourself, where do I start? This post shares tips and resources for the budding graduate entrepreneur.
An essential step for getting your business off the ground is to invest time in educating yourself on the ins and outs of running a business. That’s the same whether you have a fully written business plan, a loose product concept or just the notion that you want to be self-employed.
Luckily, there is plenty of free help out there for the graduate entrepreneur. Let’s explore four main sources.
You will be familiar with studying in classes and reading books. However, educating yourself on how to start and grow a business requires a different kind of learning. Sometimes you gain the best knowledge from others with experience of starting their own business. So, where can you find them?
- Meetup is a social networking platform with groups dedicated to entrepreneurship throughout the UK. They can help you connect with other like-minded individuals to discuss or generate ideas and seek advice. Depending on where you live, these groups can be anything from a few individuals to as large as 25,000 in London. They organise workshops on matters like obtaining funding and general business strategies. Often, they run seminars delivered by successful entrepreneurs.
- Likewise, org is a non-profit organisation that exists to build networks and advice for entrepreneurs working in the UK. They list upcoming events and discussion groups nationwide. Although many are in London or Manchester, it is worth monitoring what events are coming up and travelling to the ones that interest you. They give you a great opportunity to network with established and successful entrepreneurs.
- Startup Grind is an online and offline global community of over 400,000 entrepreneurs at all stages of running a business. Members have access to business development resources, advice on how to grow your business, and exclusive networking events. Each month, Startup Grind hosts events in 250 cities worldwide, bringing together successful entrepreneurs and early-stage business owners. The aim is to help them succeed through – in their words – making friends, not contacts.
The UK and EU have a range of different training schemes which are tailored specifically to provide training, advice, and mentorship in entrepreneurship for young people or recent graduates. Here are two:
- Erasmus for young entrepreneurs, for instance, is a fully funded programme for 1 to 6 months. An early stage entrepreneur is paired with an established entrepreneur within the EU to help them to develop the skills to successfully run a business in Europe.
- Prince’s Trust Enterprise Program provides support and training to 18-30-year-olds that are interested in starting their own business. In addition to workshops in marketing and managing finance, applicants receive support and mentorship from a dedicated team.
Local workshops and courses
Most major UK cities have free workshops and courses aiming to provide advice and training to people wishing to start their own business. For most workshops, you just need to register your interest to secure a place. There are no application processes or money to exchange. Here are two examples:
- The Business Growth Hub in Manchester offers a broad range of courses for all stages of running and setting up a business. Courses cover topics including digital marketing and e-Commerce, SEO, Marketing and Promotion, Funding and Finances among many others. They even provide training in how to develop a good product pitch.
- Ad:Venture is an EU-funded business support programme provided by Leeds Trinity University, who have their own Enterprise Centre. Perfect for a graduate entrepreneur just starting out. It aims to support new or recently launched businesses less than three years old that have ambitions to grow and create jobs in the Leeds City Region. Grants are available too.
Finally, the many resources available online can give you step-by-step instructions for what it takes to build your business from scratch as a graduate entrepreneur. Using online resources can be particularly useful while working a part- or full-time job. You can work through the materials at your own pace, where and when you want. For instance, you can get help on how to write a business plan from sites like Informi. Also, the gov.uk website can help on how to understand business tax regulations.
Leaving university can be scary – and even scarier when you’re a budding graduate entrepreneur. So, use this guide to give your learning a boost and to help you navigate the early steps of realising your business dream. Follow the links to access online resources, attend local workshops, and enroll in training schemes. What are you waiting for? Get out there and start the next chapter of your life!
Our thanks for this post go to freelance writer, Leanne Thompson.