The two are possible. I know that deadlines, lab reports and essays loom constantly however students do set up businesses. It will be tough and it will be time-consuming, but there are an abundance of useful tips in the wide world of the Internet. What follows are the distilled essentials of being a student entrepreneur for your perusal.
1) Have a story and vision to your business. Why did you want to set it up? How did the idea come to you? Being a student can be a great place for that story to begin.
2) Look after yourself. Setting up a business is stressful and time-consuming. Especially if you are balancing it with a degree. Work hard, but give yourself a little bit of slack every now and again. Enjoy a night in Shack, an evening run or maybe some Mean Girls.
3) Look after your ideas. You are valuable and so are your ideas. Whilst making sure your ideas have not already been developed is crucial, it is just as important to prevent anyone else from taking them. The government website is a great starting point for finding a whole load of information on IP.
4) Be humble. Listen to advice. There are many skills you may need to learn. Yet depending on the cost, there are some skills that it may be more time effective to outsource, such as web design.
5) Make the most of being a student. Being a student means you (probably) have fewer responsibilities than you will do in later life and therefore you have a lot less to lose. Also, as a student you have a huge network and community to help you out - often for free too!
Rest assured, alongside your degree, your societies and your sports, building a business at Durham is possible. To give you even more insight, Entrepreneurs Durham interviewed a few of Durham’s student entrepreneurs at one of our latest events.
Here are their tips:
Gillian Mcloud: 2nd year, Economics, Snappy G
· Never give up. There will be many ups and downs but don’t give up.
· Contact departments. If your product or idea has a technical element then certain departments may be able to support.
Robin Murch: 2nd year, Chinese, Signal North East
· Be confident
· It will be hard work. Work hard. Don’t give up at any obstacle.
Matt Miller: 4th Year, Politics, Unireach
· Speak the customer’s language. Try and think what the customer wants to hear about your product rather than launching into a long passionate description.
· When constructing a team get people who have complimentary skill sets on board.
I hope these little insights inspire, help and encourage you to develop your ideas and businesses even further.
It is early February, we all know that the diet has gone out the window and you may or may not have given up on all those other New Year resolutions. Or possibly, in a mode of realistic cynicism, you have refused to commit to any. Whatever the state of your new year’s resolution, it is only February and you have many days left to try something new or reform the old. Therefore, I have a suggestion to make:
Consider some of the tips below to make your student life a little more entrepreneurial.
Now although it is possible to debate what makes a good student entrepreneur (possibly a future blog post) there are some key ideas that reoccur. So here goes a few ideas and tips of how can you improve your entrepreneurial mind-set as a student.
1) Punctual: Read your emails daily, reply immediately if necessary but try not to use them as a tool for procrastination. Using a spare five minutes between lectures could make all the difference.
2) Networking: Sit next to someone you don’t know in a seminar, on the bus or in a bar. Say hello and introduce yourself.
3) Failure: Be reflective and learn from your mistakes. Each day write down two things that went well and one thing you wish to improve. For the item you wish to improve on, write down a solution. Keep these items small such as ensuring that tomorrow you go for a run, put those business ideas on paper, get started on that summative or call your mum. The aim is not to make major reforms but to make small cumulative improvements.
4) Productivity: Write a to-do list and limit yourself to only nine tasks. Rank them from the most important to the least important. Cross the three least important off. Complete your new to-do list and allow yourself a small reward. Bear in mind that at this point you probably aren’t still adhering to your “no-chocolate” New Years resolution.
5) Money: Students are often skint and so are start-ups. However saving, planning and budgeting is important. One interesting trick that is suggested is getting piggy bank (one you can’t open) and then putting a £1 in it everyday. By using your loose change you don’t feel like you are making a massive dent in your budget but by the end of the year (if you start on the 1/2/2015) you will have £334. Not bad. You could use it for many things. Possibly even use it to invest in your own business idea. If you are thinking that you’ll forget, my suggestion is to keep track by writing a £1 sign in your planner on each day you have paid. Even better, the Market in Durham are selling tin piggy banks for a £1. PS. If you aren’t using a planner, start immediately!
So there you have it, a few useful ideas to bring a flying start to your February. I’d love to hear how you make your life a little more entrepreneurial. Why don’t you pop along to Entrepreneurs Durham’s next Beers and Business at the New Inn, 08.02.15, 19.30, to have a chat!