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6 Reasons to Start Your Own Business at University

6 Reasons to Start Your Own Business at University main image

This post is adapted from an article in the QS Top Grad School Guide 2014/15. For the full version, access your free digital copy and turn to page 44.

Over the past 15 years, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) has tracked the rise in entrepreneurial skills across the world – spanning all stages of economic development, all industry sectors, and all demographic segments. In fact, entrepreneurs are not just involved in launching start-ups, but also in driving forward change and progress within existing organizations. This means graduates with strong entrepreneurial skills and experience not only have the option of bringing their own projects into existence, but are also likely to find themselves in high demand among potential employers who look for a mix of entrepreneurial and other professional skills.

Still not convinced? Here are 6 reasons to consider starting your own business at university.

1. Put your learning into practice

It may sound trite, but we all know it’s true: the surest way to learn is by doing. You may not think your studies lead naturally to a start-up venture, but if you can find a way of launching a business or non-profit initiative which is related to your course, you’ll find the curriculum takes on a new life. This could mean applying your computer studies to develop a new software solution, developing your marketing knowledge to provide freelance services to student societies, or coming up with a series of Shakespeare-themed resources as part of an outreach project in the local community. Think creatively!

2. Gain valuable professional skills

Starting your own business is also the perfect way to develop and practice all of the professional skills you’ll want to be able to demonstrate when applying for graduate jobs, whatever sector you enter. Teamwork, professional communication, time management, project management, problem-solving, creativity… start your own business, and you’ll have no shortage of ways to prove you possess all of these highly valued professional skills. As Patrice Houdayer, vice president of graduate programs at EMLYON Business School, says, “Companies are looking more and more for an entrepreneurial mindset from the young people they hire. They want employees who can develop, create value and contribute.”

3. Benefit from an instant professional network

If you start your own business while still at university, you’ll be well-placed to make full use of the ready-made professional network higher education institutions provide. Need some partners to bring complementary skills to your project? Advertise around campus and via university social networks. Struggling to find a space in which to house your initiative? Ask if your department or careers service can help. Looking for an industry partner or professional mentor? Tap into university alumni organizations and professional networking events.

4. Start your business within an established support structure

As well as providing this often close-knit network of connections and potential new contacts, many universities have well-developed systems and resources in place to support entrepreneurial students. In some cases, this means a dedicated ‘start-up hub’, in which students can develop ideas and seek guidance from faculty members and industry partners, perhaps even gaining start-up funding or financial support. There may also be opportunities to gain publicity and wider exposure by participating in entrepreneurial competitions such as IE University’s Venture Day contest.

5. The sooner you fail, the sooner you’ll succeed

If you do decide to take the leap and start your own business, you need to be prepared for failure. Statistics on the percentage of start-ups classed as ‘failures’ vary (largely depending on how you classify success), but it is generally accepted that a majority of new businesses are not destined for longevity. However, it’s also generally agreed that this is ok; in fact the ‘failures’ are essential not only for the growth of the individuals involved, but also the wider market. If you really do want a career at the helm of your own business, you’re likely to go through several stages of learning curve – so the sooner you start failing, the sooner you’ll get to your success story.

6. Give yourself a ‘Plan B’

You may not be planning a career in entrepreneurship, even remotely. But you never know what the future holds. If the global economy goes through another wobbly phase, you may find those entrepreneurial skills, experience and connections mean you have far more options and opportunities to choose from. You may also be able to benefit from governmental and institutional support for entrepreneurs, amidst growing recognition of the wide-reaching benefits of investing in innovative individuals and enterprises; the US, for instance, is currently investing in a series of dedicated innovation institutes, as part of a drive to bolster economic growth and jobs generation.

For more on the benefits and many faces of entrepreneurship, read the full article in the QS Top Grad School Guide 2014/15 (free to access; site registration required).

Written by Laura Bridgestock
The former editor of TopUniversities.com, Laura oversaw the site's editorial content and student forums. She also edited the QS Top Grad School Guide and contributed to market research reports, including 'How Do Students Use Rankings?'

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1 Comment

Thank you very much for substantive article.