5 Things You Need to Know Before You Start a Business at Uni
A while ago we hosted a panel discussion on Starting a Business at Uni. Our amazing speakers shared their invaluable experiences and advice on how to juggle starting a business and Uni work. As you can imagine, it isn’t easy, but if you’ve contemplated trying to make your idea a reality for a while now, this post can help you make it happen.
First of all, if you haven’t done so yet, go and watch our panel event as you’ll find a ton of great advice there. If you’ve already watched it and are wondering what to do next you’ve come to the right place! We’ve asked our panelists for their top 10 tips on starting a business at Uni. In this post you’ll find our absolute favourite ones, with specific tools and resources for each of them. Let’s dive in!
“Don’t invest too much time in branding keep it super light-weight” - Dan, co-founder of Bowimi
Ok, so you’ve got a great business idea and the first thing you feel you should do is make it look amazing, right? We agree, branding should stand out , be consistent and your message clear. But that’s about it for a start. You don’t need fancy graphic designers and branding agencies which would cost you a ton of money. Start light-weight and go from there. Remember that you can always update your branding at later stages when you’ve tested your business idea, and you’re certain that this is it.
As founder of Drop Bottle, Gretta Van Riel said:
“If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of the product, you’ve launched too late”
It doesn’t have to be perfect, it needs to be done!
“Market effectively and market hard” - Nicholas, founder of Open Mic
Ok, so now you’ve got an idea and are ready to launch, but you’re getting worried how is anyone going to find out that your business exists? Marketing is one of the hardest aspects of starting a new business, but possibly the most important one. Even if you’ve got a brilliant business idea, but no one knows about your brand, the business will fail. Use social media to your advantage and start building hype before you launch. People love to see a person behind the business, so give them just that. Post regularly, giving behind-the scenes content, and showing your process. This way you’ll have an engaged audience before you even launch!
If you’d like to learn more about social media marketing head over to our other webinar here
“Be prepared to wear many different hats” - Shivika, founder of Avika Limited
As a student and a start-up founder the chances are you don’t have a team of people. That's why you have to be prepared to learn many new things, some of which you probably have never done before. It can be equally exciting and overwhelming, but remember that if you get to know how to do everything inside your business you will be well-equipped to start building and training a team later on. Make sure you take advantage of all the opportunities, your Uni’s got to offer. Check out all extracurricular activities taking place at your campus, go to guest lectures which you can learn from, and talk to people who may be able to help you out. Being able to do things yourself also means saving on hiring others to do it for you. For example you may want to get professional photos done a few times, but are you going to hire a photographer everytime you want to post something on Instagram? Depending on your industry there will be a few things you will definitely have to learn yourself and you’ll very quickly realize what they are.
“Try and fail in a safe environment” - Iheanyi Ibe, Enterprise Advisor at University of Hertforshire
Starting a business at Uni, can be challenging but also comes with a lot of perks! One of them is having first-hand access to a ton of resources, which otherwise you’d have to pay for. Many Universities have a dedicated Enterprise Team of advisors to help you get your business off the ground. University also gives you access to a really wide, international audience so that you can try your ideas safely. Universities also often offer grants and can signpost you to other financial resources your business may be eligible for. Also think about all the events you could get involved in and promote your product at such as Freshers Fair, Christmas Market etc.
Best Tools: You Uni Enterprise/ Business Team
“Build Your Network” - Nicholas, founder of Open Mic
Last but not least, remember to newtork, hard! Starting a business can be a lonely place, so the key thing is to find your tribe. You’d be surprised at who you might meet and how much better it gets when you get to know someone who’s going through the same struggles. Networking can also help you open up to dozens of different opportunities. Many people met their co-founders, investors and clients through networking, because nothing can replace that personal interaction. By meeting other business owners within your specific industry you also get access to peer advice, collaboration opportunities, support and creative ideas. Networking doesn’t mean you have to constantly keep in touch with everyone you meet. It means that once you need something specific, you know who to talk to, and they will know who you are. Cold-calling days are basically over.
Those are our top 5 tips! Whether you decide to go ahead and start a business while at Uni, or wait for now, we hope the resources mentioned in this post will come in handy at some point. If you’d like to see the complete list of our panelists’ tips you can access it here
Whether you need a space to work on your business or a quiet place (different to your living-room table) to study and do coursework we’ve got you covered. Join us for our Student Wednesdays at One Up Coworking where you can get stuff done for a fiver for half a day (£5 per 4 hours). We hope to see you soon!