With graduate-entry level positions becoming increasingly competitive, more graduates than ever are considering setting up a business of their own and going down the self-employed route. But how do you get started? How do you source funding and mentorship? Here we will look at how graduates can turn their great ideas and skills into a fully-fledged profitable business.
Don’t Wait Until After Graduation
Universities often offer courses or mentorship programs in an enterprise which are perfect for aspiring entrepreneurs. These courses will help you hone your skills and learn the ins and outs of what it takes to be successful in business. These courses might also help you get in front of industry experts and potential investors who could help take your business idea to the next level.
Look Out for Incubator Programs
Hatcheries, or incubators as they’re often called, are a perfect environment for young ambitious entrepreneurs. Within an incubator, you will often be assigned a mentor and receive constant guidance throughout your time. Your idea will be tested, and you will receive feedback from experts on all areas of your business, with discussions around what will work and what will not. There are also likely to be areas where your skills aren’t as strong – perhaps with accounts or marketing – and this is where the incubator can help train you up and hone those skills.
What is Your Business Aim?
Many challenges come with setting up and growing a business. These challenges can become overwhelming at times, even for the most hardened of entrepreneurs, and discourage you from pursuing your ambitions. Therefore, it’s important to have a clear focus and aim to keep you on the right track and on course to meet your goals. Although profit and money will often be the first reason for starting a business, it’s important to have goals which go beyond this to keep you passionate about what you’re doing. These goals could be about helping people cut costs, saving the environment or simply to improve their own work life.
Going it Alone or Working with Partners?
Although going it alone as an entrepreneur means you will take all profits home and you call all the shots, it also means all pressure is on you. Having business partners takes the focus off you, meaning failures and stresses are shared as well as successes. Any business partner you do choose will need to be someone/people you can totally trust and who you can get along with even in times of extreme stress. Business partners need to compliment your weaknesses and strengths, as working with the wrong partner will cause your business to fail quicker than anything else.
Pursuing Venture Capital Investment
It’s likely that if you’re setting up a business as a new graduate you will be limited by funds. There will come a point sooner or later where you consider whether pursuing venture capital investment is right for you and your business. Venture capitalists look to invest in businesses with potential for huge growth; this doesn’t necessarily mean your business needs to be making a profit already, but it does mean investors want to see great potential in your idea and in you as an entrepreneur. It’s also hugely important to find the right venture capital investors for your business. Many venture capital investors will hold investment summits and events where you can attend and get your business in front of the right people; keep a lookout in your area for local networking and investment events which will be a great opportunity to increase the exposure of your business.
Nail Your Elevator Pitch
Honing your elevator pitch is one of the best ways to prepare for a networking event or an investment summit. Your elevator pitch is a short summary of your business which defines who you are, what you do, why you do it, your USP and who your customers are. It’s best to practice this several times before you’re in front of investors and potential mentors to make sure you are confident in your pitch.