How to launch a business while still a student

With the current state of employment in the UK, many new graduates in the last few years have found that they struggled to find a decent job. The days of arriving fresh into the business world and landing a job the next day are positively over. And students are paying attention to this reality.

As a result, the idea of doing what Michael Dell did by founding a company in his college dorm room is becoming more popular, especially with online businesses gaining traction.

In this article, we look at how viable it is to launch a business as a student, what hurdles there might be, and the approach needed to succeed.

Should you start a business as a student?

If you’re looking for immediate cash because your university funding hasn’t come through, then the best idea is to get a job. However, if you don’t need the business to generate profit for the first 6-12 months, then a small business is possibly a good idea.

There are many business ideas suitable for people at college or university. Many typical business brainstorming sessions start from the premise that you’ll provide a service. This is instead of a full-blown business with an office, full-time staff, and so on. The thinking here is that it’s better to offer a service in your spare time than try to effectively work a full-time job while still being a full-time student.

Do remember that you need to register the business too. Also, for foreign students on a visa, there are some restrictions on starting a business while a student in the UK.

How much money do you need to start?

It depends on the kind of business as to what money you’ll require.

If a small amount of funding is needed such as £1,000 or so, then it might be possible to secure a small business loan to get you started. Before taking out any funding (or simply using up your savings), it’s important to budget for the start-up costs and then the ongoing operational expenses until the business is cash flow positive.

With start-up expenses, you probably already have some of the things that you’ll require. This might include a laptop, smartphone, etc. However, if you plan to do business locally, then think about getting business cards printed up too. Other costs may relate to what work you’ll be doing. For instance, when designing websites or logos, you may need Adobe Photoshop to produce graphic design work in the first place.

For ongoing expenses, consider subscriptions that will be required like Office 365 or an online graphics editor. Certainly, you’ll require a website and need to maintain a domain name and web hosting. Think it through and plan accordingly.

What time can you allocate to the business?

Dividing up your time between classes, homework, and your business is never going to be easy. It’s a juggling act for sure. Given that your class times aren’t negotiable, plan your business time around the classes and not the other way around. This is despite clients or customers having their own ideas about deadlines.

Figure out how much time you can devote to the business – especially billable hours if you work that way – and see what you can generate. This then feeds into your financial planning model.

Starting a business as a student makes life busier, but it provides invaluable experience too. It’s also entirely possible that a small business started while you are still a student can develop into a full-time endeavour, so you might never need a job after all.

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