Setting Out on Your Own: Tips for Getting a Business Started upon Graduation
You have graduated from higher education or are in your final year of studies, and there is one burning question – what to do next? The job market for graduates has become increasingly competitive, between the race for salaried positions and competition for internships and similar schemes. For some graduates, setting up their own business may be the best option, and for the entrepreneurial graduate it is the only option they would consider. No matter what your perspective is, setting up a business is a challenge, and for those seeking to enter business for themselves for the first time there are a number of issues to consider.
The first thing to consider when starting your own business is to determine its viability. You may have a great idea for a business, based perhaps on your studies, but if the market for what you want to sell – product or service – is already saturated with competition then you might want to think again. Testing your idea in a restricted environment can be one way of determining the viability of an idea. This is where networking can prove invaluable. As a student, you appreciate the importance of getting to know people. As a business owner, establishing contacts is critical, so get out and about, whether in college circles or further afield and let people know that you are setting up a business and how it might benefit them as a potential customer. If your studies have included work experience, ask those organisations you worked for if they would consider giving you some contract work or if they know of other organisations or individuals who you could contact.
An important tip when starting your own business is to look to the experience of those who have gone before you. Valuable lessons can be learned from those business people who have made it, and even those who did not. As far as success in business is concerned, a good example is Catherine Hooper, and not only because Black Umbrella, the venture she founded to help organizations with disaster preparedness, has excelled but also because she has overcome personal adversity. As the fiancé of Andrew Madoff, Hooper experienced the fallout from the collapse of his father, Bernie Madoff’s investment firm, due to fraud. Hooper’s experience teaches us all that difficult times need to be faced down.
As a student, you likely have experience of budgeting on limited finances. For business start-ups, budgeting is critical and until you get your business up and running, finances are going to be tight. Talk to your bank or financial institution about loan options. Consider also the range of financing options available to you, from investors to crowdfunding, and even business competitions that provide important exposure to potential customers, as well as monetary awards.
Starting your own business as a graduate can be challenging, but an important point to remember is that as a student you have experience of working on your own initiative and doing it for yourself, so self-motivation and drive – key ingredients in success as a business owner – have become second nature to you.