How to Make University Work for Your Small Business (Guest Blog)

University is not the ‘guarantee’ for a great career and an easier life that it once was. More graduates than ever before are leaving Uni, only to find there are no jobs for them in the outside world. So they fall back into old habits and end up essentially starting right back from square one. But there is a way to use University as something more than just a place to learn a specific skill set or drink yourself into a semi-coma on a Wednesday afternoon. You could be using your time at University to build a foundation on which to start a business that could have evolved into a thriving career by the time you’ve finished your final year!

The best of both worlds

Anyone who hasn’t been to University will probably tell you that they spent the time any money they would have spent on a degree on building their careers. It is possible to get a degree without sacrificing 3 years of your life though, if you’re willing to work for it. University is the perfect place from which to build a business thanks to the vast amount of (largely free) resources on offer and the liberal amounts of free time.

Of course there are always concerns about starting any business and when you consider you’ve got potentially hundreds of hours worth of studying to fit in alongside that, it’s no wonder so many otherwise ambitious entrepreneurs might find the balance too tough to bare.
If you feel like you have what it takes though and have a good business head on your shoulders (as well as the ability to get by on less than 6 hours sleep a night) then read on and we’ll take you through a few vital tips which might just convince you that starting your business from University is not only a bold move, but a smart one.

Time management

Make two separate timetables, one for you university work and one for your business work. It’s easy for one life to overlap with the other so keeping thorough accounts of exactly where you need to be at what specific time will help illuminate any possible missed appointments on either side. Thankfully, smartphones have made organising our lives so much easier in the 21st century and there are numerous apps designed to help make it even easier still. You should also remember to make time for your social life though, all work and no play a dull boy does make.

Contacts

You will meet so many people at university, many of which will go on to become lifelong friends. There are many others you will eventually lose touch with however, so strike whilst the iron is hot and start taking names and numbers! Networking is naturally easy at university (both physically and through social networking sites such as Facebook) and best of all you can even combine it with your social life. Casual drinks as the student union bar for example could double as a recruitment mission for investors or (at the very least) consumers.

Transferable skills

Many of the skills that you learn at university will be transferable to running your business (especially if you’re studying for a degree in business) and what better time to utilise those skills than when they’re fresh in your mind. There will also be workshops to attend that might include industry speakers who will not only provide you with valuable information but also could become potential contacts.

Free advice

Not only will many modern Universities have departments specifically dedicated to helping students with their post-University prospects, but there are hundreds of lecturers with real world experience who should be more than happy to help you. If you can’t find a specialist in your businesses specific field at a University, chances are you won’t find one anywhere!

Market research

Many students struggle financially during their studies, especially during their first year. You can take advantage of this by offering students small monetary incentives to form focus groups that in the real world would cost hundreds, maybe even thousands. There might even be some students (business students especially) who would be willing to do it for free, simply for the experience!

Working space

Finding a decent office space to run your business from can prove difficult and expensive. Working out of a University though, you’ll have access to a variety of vacant rooms that can be rented out cheap or for free!

Author bio: Rebecca Fox is a marketing graduate who enjoys writing about all things business related for foxhallbc