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Can a Student Start a Business Whilst at University?

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Can a Student Start a Business Whilst at University?
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If among the essays, lectures and partying you’ve got some free time on your hands, you might be wondering if starting a business while at university is possible. After all, starting your own business can be truly life changing, and a bit of extra income as a student can’t hurt. 


Can a student start a business in the UK? Well, an impressive 480,000 students currently run, or plan to run a business while they’re at uni, so it’s certainly possible. But there are multiple considerations to bear in mind before you dive straight in. 


In this article, the experts at SUAZ will explain how company formation works as a student, the advantages and challenges of starting a business at university and how to make your business dream a reality.


The number of student entrepreneurs is rising


Starting a business while at university is nothing new, and can definitely take off. Take Mark Zuckerberg as a prime example, who founded and launched Facebook from his dorm room at Harvard University. 


If you’re a student considering entrepreneurship, you’re choosing a great time to do it. Student accommodation provider, Fresh, found that students are registering more businesses than ever before - with 4,093 businesses registered by students in 2022 compared to just 847 in 2021 according to Companies House data. 


According to a survey conducted by GoDaddy, the pandemic caused a surge in young people jumping into entrepreneurship, with 9% of 16 to 25-year-olds having started a business since February 2020. When the job market plummeted during the pandemic, young entrepreneurs found opportunities to pursue their business ideas. There's no perfect age to start a business, so, what’s stopping you from following suit?


Advantages of starting a business at university


Wondering if it’s worth starting a business while at university? If you need some encouragement, here are just some advantages to consider.


Gaining practical experience and supporting learning


University is a great place to start your business. Stepping into those entrepreneur shoes can enhance your skills and employability once you’ve graduated. At university, you’re surrounded by educated professionals who you can bounce ideas off and gain valuable insights from. Not only that, but your university is likely to have state-of-the-art facilities you can make use of, such as libraries, specialist equipment and other resources.


Being in a learning environment can encourage you to try new things and develop your skills. The knowledge you’ve gained from your studies can be applied to real-life situations, and running a business is sure to equip you with valuable leadership and decision-making skills which can help you with your university work. What’s more, university is a time where you can take risks, experiment and try new things - should you not succeed, you can use any failures to grow and develop your skills for later life.


Building a network


Starting a business at university provides you with a unique opportunity to build relationships and connections with suppliers and like-minded business owners. Your professors may have connections in your chosen industry that can open the door to potential suppliers, investors or customers. Your university may host networking events where you can make valuable connections, gain advice, and find mentorship and potential business opportunities. You can build a network that’s beneficial not just to your university experience but your business and future career.


Disadvantages of starting a business at university


Starting a business is a big deal, especially when you’re a student with other commitments to take care of. Before you dive into entrepreneurship, you must be prepared for the challenges you may face. Here are some potential disadvantages of starting a business while at university to keep in mind.


Balancing academic and business responsibilities


Starting a business takes a lot of time and commitment, which you may struggle with as a student. If you’re looking to start your own business while at university, it’s important not to let it get in the way of your studies and the overall student experience. 


Balancing your university work with business responsibilities may leave you feeling overwhelmed and could lead to burnout. The last thing you’d want is for your academic performance to take a hit. If you’re worried about balancing your academic and business responsibilities, it may be worth holding off on your business venture until you’ve finished university and have more time to commit to your entrepreneurial goals. 


Financial constraints


Starting a business is a financial investment as much as it is an emotional one. 


Businesses can take time to become profitable, and it’s doubtful students will have time for a part-time job alongside a business for extra income. There are several costs to cover when starting a business, and it can take time for your new venture to become profitable. Sticking to a budget as a student can be challenging as it is - using your personal funds to grow your business may leave you with little money to fund your university expenses. Balancing the cost of your tuition, textbooks and general living expenses with your business costs may be tricky to manage. To overcome these financial constraints, be sure to create a detailed budget that outlines your personal and business expenses and how you’re going to afford them. Next, explore any funding options that could give your business the boost it needs. Perhaps there are grants you could apply for, or pitch competitions you could enter. Reach out to your network for support if you need it - there may be a potential investor in arm’s reach who would love to support you.


Tips for starting a business while studying


We’ve covered the advantages and disadvantages of starting a business as a student. If you have your heart set on chasing your business dream and have weighed up the pros and cons, there’s no reason why you can’t succeed.


Here are some of our top tips for starting a business while at university.


Reach out to your university


As a university student, you have an array of valuable resources on your university campus that you could use to your advantage. Be sure to reach out to your university where you can to get your business out there. Perhaps you have a professor who’s a business expert whose brain you could pick, or a mentorship program you could sign up for. If your university allows it, you could even advertise your business on campus to get some local interest.


Building a support network


Having a support network is vital for any entrepreneur, but especially for a student. Having people around you that you can rely on, from mentors to fellow entrepreneurs, can give you reassurance should you need it. Your network can be a source of shared knowledge, collaborative opportunities and guidance. Entrepreneurship comes with its challenges at times, and having a support network around you, especially while balancing university work, can give you the motivation you need to push through tough times. 


SUAZ is also here to help, with our knowledge base packed full of useful information, including our complete guide to starting a business.


Legal considerations


The sooner you get your head around the legal considerations of starting a business while at university, the sooner you can officially call yourself a business owner! Here are just a couple of legal considerations to keep in mind:


  • Choosing your legal structure: You’ll need to decide if you’ll register your business as a sole trader or limited company. We cover the differences in our guide to limited liability in business.

  • Registering your business: In the UK, you need to register your new business with Companies House. You can do this yourself for £50, or let a company formation agent like SUAZ take care of the hard work for you. Even better? We won’t charge you a penny. We’ll cover the Companies House incorporation fee and be at hand to answer any questions you may have.


To conclude…


Starting a business while at university is sure to be a valuable learning experience, giving you access to networking opportunities and resources. Provided you balance your academic and business responsibilities, there’s no reason why you can’t build a thriving business as a student. Looking for a helping hand to guide you in the right direction? SUAZ can help you set up your business while supporting you every step of the way. 


Register your company for free today, or take a look at our company formation packages to get you started.

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