Increase Your Employability by Starting Your Own Business
As we all know, the current job market has become much more competitive than it has ever been before. Gone are the days when students needed only a degree to secure employment post-graduation. Simply put – applicants have to be exceptional. If you can’t prove that you have relevant experience and a strong set of transferable skills, the chances of being hired are slim.
Even for entry-level positions, employers are increasingly requiring ‘prior experience’. Though many university students take on part-time positions in retail or food service, folding clothes won’t give you the skills necessary to break into any specific industry. Starting your own business, however, can help you hone a host of valuable skills such as time management, strategic planning, delegation, accounting, leadership and communication that are relevant to almost any industry.
For example, should you start your own business your responsibilities will likely include looking after the finances of the company. This would give you very strong, relevant experience if you were to apply for an accounting position in the future but it can also apply to fields such as marketing, sales or management. Being a business owner shows that you are responsible, proactive, and that you have a passion for your field, and employers want to see that.
To most, the idea of starting a business might sound rather daunting. There’s always the fear of failing, and about half of all startups do fail. But that’s not a bad thing! It’s unlikely that you will become a millionaire overnight, but the wealth of experience and knowledge to be gained is invaluable. What’s important is the experience. Now is the perfect time to take a risk while adult responsibilities aren’t tying you down.
Although, that’s not to say your business won’t prosper. There have been a number of hugely successful businesses started by university students; take Facebook, Google, Reddit, FedEx, Microsoft and Dell for example!
You have an idea. Now what?
Once you have a business idea, it’s time to get organised. Start by writing a comprehensive business plan, detailing the scope of your business, your product or service, goals, pricing details, and a rough plan for the first few years of operation. When you’re finished, have as many people read it as you can. Professors, potential customers, business owners – all will give you invaluable feedback regarding the feasibility of your plan.
More important than asking what works is asking what doesn’t. Knowing what people dislike about your business plan will help you make it stronger. You might not be able to see your own weak points, so having as many extra eyes read your proposal is a necessity.
One of the most important things to consider when starting your own business is making sure you’ve registered your business with the government. Whether you plan on doing freelance graphic design work or starting up a consulting business, you will be earning taxable income and must therefore register your business with the HMRC. Decide which form of legal structure best suits your business to figure out how to go about registering with the government.
There are many other legal matters to take into consideration with your new venture. Issues such as copyrights, patents, employee rights and so on can be very confusing to a new entrepreneur. However, there are many online guides available to help you grapple with the steep legal learning curve associated with being a business owner.
Having a great idea doesn’t mean much if you don’t have the funds to get it off the ground, and being a student, you probably don’t have enough cash lying around to rent new equipment or an office space. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to help you find the money you need to get your business up and running, such as this business funding guide by Thomson Local, and the great news is that lots of grants and loans are available especially for students and ‘young people’!
Another great source of information that’s easy to overlook is your university. Your university’s career services centre should be able to help give you advice on starting and running your business as well as point you in the direction of some other resources specifically for young entrepreneurs. They also might be able to offer you support in finding funding, mentors, office space, or help you network with other professionals.
Whether you become the next Bill Gates or not, starting and managing your own business can offer a unique experience that will set you apart from the crowd. Employers are looking for entrepreneurial spirit, so give them what they want! If you have an idea, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take the risk and see where it leads you.
TJ Beard is a university student studying International Business, currently doing a placement in the UK.