Being a student is expensive these days and the average British graduate graduates with debts of £45,000. The work of students in parallel with their studies has become commonplace and is necessary for managing the student budget. However, this does not mean being a slave to the minimum wage; many students will start freelancing and even start their own business while at university. In fact, some of the biggest names in business today were created or conceived while their founders were in university—Facebook, Napstar, Google, FedEx, and many more.
In fact, you don’t have to wait until you become a student, there is nothing stopping you from starting this business from scratch when you are in your teens. See here for 10 best business ideas teens can start with little to no money.
If you’re planning to work alongside your studies, here are some tips to keep in mind before embarking on a career as a student entrepreneur.
Freelancing is a great way to not only gain experience in your field, but also earn a paycheck and dip into industry waters. Do your research before you go looking for a job; you’ll want to consider your and industry rates, the time you can commit and how it will fit into your studies, whether you need to work onsite or be able to work remotely. To search for a job, check out some of the following sites, work on your resume, join LinkedIn, and seek approval from peers, employers, and faculty.
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Creating your own business
If you think you have an idea that might be in demand in the professional world, the first thing you need to do is get it down on paper; describe in detail what your product is, who your audience will be, if there is demand, how you will sell it, and how much it costs to ship your product or service. You can cover all of these elements in a one-page resume known as business model canvas. And if you need funding, you will need to write a business plan.
Check the trade first
The most important element of any type of plan is confirmation of demand. Asking people what they think won’t tell you anything, the only real test is whether people will pay in a real situation. Try to test the trade in some way before investing too much time and effort. This may include a pop-up kiosk or a few online ads to see if there is any real customer base to start building on.
Many universities now have business support centers that offer business advice, training, and often generous grants. If you think you want to start your own business while still a student, then the quality of support and funding offered by the Enterprise Hub may be one of your criteria when choosing the right university. An enterprise support service can be stand-alone or part of a student union or career service.
A lot can be done in entrepreneurship these days with little or no money. But if you need funds, then there are several options. First of all, check your student enterprise support service. Alternatively, you can look into crowdfunding – peer-to-peer investments that run on two platforms, shares or rewards, it’s a great way to test the market, build a customer base, and even match a corporate equity fund. The biggest player in the UK is Crowdfunder. There is government support after graduation Starting Loan Company, which offers loans up to £25,000. These are some ideas for beginners. See more options here.
Wealth management and taxes
As soon as you launch a business ball, you will hopefully see the fruits of your labor, i.e. cash. While this will be your finished reward, it must be managed. Set up a spreadsheet to detail all your invoices and expenses, make sure you send invoices quickly and with a stipulated “due by” date, chase down late payers. Set up a separate account for all business transactions. Register as self-employed and remember that even if you are a full-time student, you are still required to report your income to HMRC and pay income tax if your earned income exceeds £12,570.