Guest blog written by Ruth Bushi, an editor at Save the Student. Featuring the kind of straight-talking advice you won’t get at school, the site has everything you need to know about managing money without the migraines: student finance explained, insider info on careers, plus ways to save and scrimp without the stress.
Don’t sell yourself short when it comes to self employment: it’s all about transferable skills, writes Save the Student.
Starting a business at uni is a great way to trial-run your career plans, build your own work experience and make extra cash to boot. Take a look at some of the qualities that it helps to have – or learn – to start a student business.
1. You’re a life hacker
If you’ve got tons of ideas, you’ve got a head-start when it comes to working for yourself. There are few businesses out there that didn’t start with a simple ‘What if…?’ and a sense of curiosity, from global big hitters like Apple to Alfredo Moser, who gave away his solar lighting hack to combat deprivation. Find your own inspiration here.
2. You’re obsessive about your interests
If there’s something you’re expert in, passionate about, or do to a high standard, you may be able to use it to kick-start your career. Selling your talents online can open the doors to extra cash for everyone from artists to bloggers and music teachers (Skype lessons, anyone?).
Starting with hobbies means you’re hard-wired to enjoy your work, plus you already know that you didn’t get to grade 8 on the tambourine overnight: whether you’re thinking freelancing or fully-fledged world domination, becoming profitable takes time.
3. You don’t do 9-5 (but you don’t mind working weekends)
The freedom to choose your own hours and place of work is one of the biggest lures for freelancing, but with great power comes great responsibility if bungled deadlines cost you pay or future work – so get organised.
While you may do your best work in the wee hours, you’ll need to be available when your clients are. Feel free to ditch the 9-5 – just don’t forget to give it a nod every now and then.
4. You can hold your own
As with getting a job of any kind, you have to believe in what you offer and enjoy talking about it. Working from home is a sweet deal if you hate small talk, but you’ll still need to persuade others to give you gigs (or funding). If pitching to a panel has you quaking in your boots, stick with a compelling email proposal, or shy away from cold calling by getting flyers out there and directing customers to a website instead.
Getting a partner won’t excuse you from being self-motivated, but it’s great to have someone to celebrate the highs (and lows) with, plus other people bring skills to the table that you won’t have.
5. You like knowing how things work
Anyone can be self-employed – it really is as simple as getting a decent plan and telling HRMC – but being curious how tax works can leave you better off if you know what allowances and tax breaks you’re entitled to. Checking out local small business advice or chatting to people who inspire you can also clue you in on funding, partnerships and opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have known about. So stay nosy.
6. You can handle change
Being able to think objectively about what’s working (and what isn’t) is pure gold when it comes to starting your own business. Being emotionally hitched to a bad idea, or too scared to take new opportunities, could leave you stuck in a rut that sucks up your cash along with your motivation. There’s no shame in quitting – the kudos lies in starting again.
It’s OK to start small, just as it’s OK to get a pet project that you ditch by the time you graduate. Unlike later in life, following your passions now can pay off because you don’t have to stake your mortgage on it working out – and it can be a great way to balance out your studies. Good luck!