An undergraduate Mark Zuckerberg, played here by Jesse Eisenberg in ‘The Social Network’, founded Facebook in his Harvard dorm room. It has become the start-up cliché, but there are thousands of successful entrepreneurs who turned their dreams into reality thanks to abundant (and free of charge!) support that universities provide.
Entrepreneurs have acquired rock-star status in recent years, not least among undergraduates vying to become the next Mark Zuckerberg. But despite all the hype around starting your own business, one fact remains: most new start-ups fail.
So armed only with a student loan which may barely cover registering a web domain once essentials like rent are met, is it really responsible for students to start up their own business? Shouldn’t they be concentrating on getting a good degree?
No. For anyone with a flicker of ambition to start a business at some point in their life, university is the perfect place to try your hand. Here’s why…
Fail early, fail fast
Failure in the UK is too often seen as a liability, as if it were somehow proof of your inability to run a successful business in the future. But failure, in fact, should be considered as valuable experience.
No one particularly likes to fail but it happens. Fail early and fail fast at university and you’ll have that safety cushion. The likelihood is that you won’t have children or a mortgage, and you can just get on with your degree or even your next start-up.
As Samuel Beckett famously said, “Try again, fail again, fail better.”
Support for young student entrepreneurs is abundant. If you’re currently at university, you’ll have a range of organisations to go to for help.
It’s likely your university will have its own enterprise society, as ours (The University of Aberdeen) has its Enterprise and Business Society. They host a range of events, talks and workshops throughout the year and joining a society is a perfect way of meeting like-minded people.
SIE (Scottish Institute for Enterprise), Enterprise Campus and Elevator run numerous events to help give young student entrepreneurs invaluable skills and networking opportunities. Contact them and you’ll be able to meet with enterprise advisors, who can assess your business idea and guide you through the process. It’s so, so important to reach out for help rather than struggle on your own.
Even if you think that you have it all figured out, things will come up that you never considered and without the right support, they may throw you off track. And how can you say no if all this support is offered free of charge for budding student entrepreneurs like you?
Once you have crystallised your idea and want to start working on making it happen, join a start-up incubator like ours. Nearly every city in the UK has an incubator, many of which are specialised in specific fields. Incubators often boast plenty of high-tech equipment, powerful working stations, in-house advisors, space to work collaboratively and, usually, fancy coffee machines.
If you want to find out more about joining ABVenture Zone, visit our website and get in touch!
Gap in the market
With an abundance of potential customers living right next door and friends with spare time to help, university offers the perfect environment for starting out in business.
And you can be up and trading in no time. As a student at your university, you’re best placed to understand your potential customers; you’ll know what is already good and what is lacking. Try to pick up signals from your friends when they talk about what they’d love to have at the university. Our occupants, Margaret and Rob, identified a lack of accessible information on events at the university, and will soon be launching UniTrix – an ‘all-in-one’ student app which addresses that gap in the market. Read more about their story here.
Try before you apply
Most graduates will automatically look for employment with a company immediately after graduation. This is entirely understandable, but a large proportion will dislike their jobs and begin to dream about starting their own business.
How can you know whether you’d prefer the trials and tribulations of a start-up if you’ve never tried?
It’s well-known that an undergraduate Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in his Harvard dorm room. So who knows – just because the odds are stacked against you doesn’t mean you won’t create the next big thing.