University is a time for studying, socialising and learning, but it is also a great time to tune into your innovative, entrepreneurial side. With so many resources, contacts and knowledge around you, you can make the most of this unique time in your life and use it for your business benefit. Anna Pitts, Marketing Assistant and Online Researcher at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau, shares her tips and suggestions to turn your student years from debt to potential profit….
Are you a computer genius or technology whizz? Are you the person that people come to when their phone is misbehaving or they need help with a troublesome laptop or tablet? Well then, there is your business. Utilise your talent for technological understanding and set up an advice, repair or maintenance service for different devices open to students, staff and the public.
Can you fuse tech know-how with creative vision? Then you’re just the kind of person who is in demand (and control!) in this post-digital world. If you can design useful programs or apps, or solve a problem people didn’t even know they had then you could find yourself onto a winner.
It might be fair to say that students can be a tad lazy. So what better way to appeal to this (potential) mass market than pandering to this trait? Delivery businesses thrive in student areas and they are relatively easy to start up, if you are willing to put in a little elbow grease. If you can drive then that’s your delivery vehicle sorted. Or, for local deliveries, combine it with your daily exercise and do the rounds on foot. Now you’ve just got to decide what you’ll be delivering- food and alcohol are pretty safe bets, and bulk buying (or making) ensure you keep your overheads low.
If writing is your thing then there are many related businesses that you can start up. Have you got a keen eye for detail and slightly obsessive nature? Proofreading can satisfy both of these and prove reasonably lucrative into the bargain. Offer your proofreading services around campus and charge by the hour or per piece of work. Students are always in need of second opinions and meticulous grammar-checkers, especially around dissertation time and when it comes to completing those job application forms.
If you enjoy writing for yourself then why not start a blog so you can share your musings with other people? Platforms such as WordPress, BlogSpot and Tumblr allow you to create your own blog for free. Find a theme for your blog – technology, cookery, politics, fashion – and then post advice, information and opinion on your chosen topic. Share your articles through all the social media platorms to boost views and build your profile. If your blog gets noticed by the right people, you could find doors start to open.
Working freelance as a journalist, although hard to break into, can be very rewarding and also great for the CV. You never know, your literary-themed efforts could be the next big thing in the student world. Just ask Jack Rivlin, George Marangos-Gilks and Taymoor Atighetchi – they created ‘The Tab’ – now a popular student newspaper nation-wide.
Clothes – and shopping – are pretty popular with a lot of students. What better way to appeal to fashion-hungry students than creating your own brand and clothing line? If you’re a dab hand with a needle and have a creative flair you’ve got a nifty combination. Rich Gray found this out when he started his business, ‘Priority Clothing’ as a student, which is now a successful retail brand, website and shop.
Think how many books people need at university – hardly anyone buys sparkling new copies every time, and very few are so well-thumbed that they can’t be re-used. You can make a business as a trader, buying second hand books and selling them on to new students, making sure they are in good condition. Your biggest competitor might be Amazon, but if you can ensure a quick and reasonably priced service then you could create a niche market.
Turning your hobby into a business is a wise move. As the old saying goes, ‘Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life’. Baking is popular in the student community (as fans of the Great British Bake Off will attest) and what’s more the modern craze is having cupcakes at basically any event, meaning you have an instant target audience. The only downside is the amount of competition, but with some clever marketing, delicious products and ‘mates-rates’ deals you’ve got the recipe for success!
People need tutors for everything. Whether it is extra help with the course, on a certain module or outside of academia, if you have a talent and passion for something then you can teach it. Your students don’t have to be at university – they might be GCSE or A-level students that need help near exams. Or, maybe you have a particularly interesting hobby to share like a language or skill, or both. Italian and origami evening classes anyone?
It can be done!
So, whether it is providing a solution, following your passion or sharing a skill, there are many opportunities to break into the commercial world at university. Why not discuss your business ideas with students across the country and get a head start by posting on Facebook here > https://www.facebook.com/studentstartup. Just make sure that you’re steering on the right side of business and legal matters, by checking the advice and info on SMARTA.
If you want to get involved at grassroots level, there’s no better place to start than Warwick Entrepreneurs. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve started a business or have the germ of an idea, it’s a pretty inspirational society and you’ll find it hard to resist the enterprising spirit and ‘can do’ attitude of your fellow travellers. As their campaign week suggests: IT CAN BE DONE!