Around now, roughly 28% of young people in Mid Ulster will have flown the nest to start university, indeed my own son is one of them. It’s an exciting time for them as they embark on a new journey and are prepared to welcome new opportunities and life experiences. Many will be thinking about finding work to support themselves during their time at university and entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg have created the possibility that young students can create multi million-pound businesses from the comfort of their student room. While, for most, that may be a little unrealistic, I still believe that university can be a safe ground for young people to try their hand at being their own boss, to exercise their creative skills and to test new ideas and concepts.
If you are embarking on the first weeks of university life, there are a few reasons that I’d be encouraging you to keep an open mind about starting a business while you’re there. Everyone knows that most students like the social scene at university and this itself can be the perfect breeding ground for would-be entrepreneurs. Abundant social opportunities can help to identify gaps in the market that are waiting to be filled, they present perfect networking opportunities for combining skills, talents and contacts, and close living quarters mean ample bodies to test and eventually buy new products and services.
Research is vital to the success of any business venture and since universities have a huge amount of resources, including books, access to various online sites, and networks you could undertake fantastic research using your university’s access at no cost. Not to mention the face to face research opportunities available through various forums. Your university will also have other resources to help you develop and even produce your ideas - whether it’s a photography studio, laboratories, design software etc – all you have to do is ask and most universities will want to accommodate you.
Lecturers can also be particularly helpful, especially if you plan to start a business in an area in which you are studying. Lecturers are specialists in their field who have an enormous amount of experience and knowledge and they would be happy to answer your questions and give you some advice. Don’t be afraid to ask for their help, they will be happy their students trust and respect them and appreciate the value of their advice.
I’m not saying that starting a business at university will be easy, after all the start-up budget will likely be tight when the student loan has all but gone, but there are cost effective opportunities at university that could help to give young entrepreneurs a helping hand.
Here in Dungannon we’ve been lucky to work with some amazing student entrepreneurs over the years starting businesses in hospitality, marketing, beauty etc with some even coming to see us about support for brand new innovations that they want to test out.
If you are at Uni and have an idea, we’d love to chat to you about it and point you in the right direction. Just call 028 87 723 489 to arrange an appointment.