In days gone by, if you were a bright-eyed, ambitious graduate looking to make it to the top, you would start out at the bottom. Taking coffee orders, helping in the mail room and basically being someone’s minion in order to make it to that ‘corner office’. But these days, you can start at the top all on your own! Never before has it been easier for the graduate entrepreneur to set up shop.
The rise of the graduate entrepreneur comes down to many factors, including the surge of e-commerce and the ability to work anywhere as a ‘digital nomad’. Ten years ago, it was all about getting an MBA under your belt, or, if you did branch out on your own, the need for a ‘bricks and mortar’ business. But, thanks to the rise of online shopping, digital marketing and social media, 25% of students in the UK now run a business or are embarking on a venture while at university (according tosifted.eu). Collectively, they raked in £1bn in 2019 – a 32% increase from 2016. Postgraduates have been found more likely to start a business than undergraduates. The future has never been brighter for startup founders; it’s an exciting world out there for those who are ready to take the plunge and be their own boss.
But before you get rid of your lucky job-interview suit and ditch the CV, do you have what it takes to start your own business?
Do you have passion?
Starting your own business means insane hours. Way more than if you were working for someone else. Everything rests on your shoulders which means no sick days, no slack and no holidays – if you don’t have the resources to employ other people. Choose something that you’re obsessed with, deeply care about or you find fascinating. You will be making a lot of sacrifices, so loving what you do is important.
Know the commercial angle
No matter how great your business concept is (or how creative your ideas are), without a broad understanding and capability of managing all financial aspects, you simply won’t make it. If taxes, budgeting, P&L sheets and financial analysis just aren’t your thing, then get a professional in.
You always hear the overnight success stories of those who went from rags to riches. But the truth? ‘Overnight’ in the public eye can actually be years for that person who overcame the odds. Many do not make it. You need to be prepared for failure, and to have your goal in your mind’s eye. While your friends might be calling you to come out drinking and partying, you need to keep your eyes on the prize. Remember why you started and what you set out to do.
Take the leap!
Don’t let fear get in the way of making the big decision to start your own business. But by all means, be prepared for failures, setbacks and hardship. However it’s these very experiences that help us to grow and make better decisions.Starting out on your own is a great decision to make when you are fresh from graduating. You have a burning optimism and desire to change the world. It’s this very idealism that can generate a new era of founders, innovators, game-changers and pioneers. Follow the road less travelled, or just pave a new way: the future is yours for the taking.