If you’re waiting for ‘ideal’ circumstances to start a business, you’ll be waiting a long time. There’s always going to be a hundred excuses to put it off, so starting a business at University is just another one.
Two of the main reasons people don’t set up a business are money and security worries, and because of these many people will never give themselves the chance to try out an idea that could potentially be great. The best thing about starting a business whilst at University is you’re committed to a minimum of three years studying, interspersed with long holidays and flexible work hours inbetween lectures and private study. If you’ve got a great idea teamed with the passion and ambition, you have a long time to spend researching and setting it up. Once you’ve graduated and enter into the world of work, it’s much harder to find the spare time, not to mention the flexibility.
The older you get, the more responsibilities you’ll have: children, mortgages and careers. To take a risk and start a business when you have these financial obstacles is difficult to do because if you fail the repercussions can be huge. University is the perfect environment to take this risk, because if you fail you still have a degree to lead you onto employment. If it doesn’t work out, at the very least, you’ll have something to talk about in job interviews. Valuable lessons are learnt from failure as well as success. Maybe the business you start at Uni won’t be your ticket to success, but you can guarantee it will be an integral part of it.
Many people might say they want to start a business and work for themselves, but you never really know until you’re doing it. Starting a business during your studies gives you the chance to test it out, and decide if it’s really for you. You might find it too lonely or too much pressure. Or you might thrive on the independence and satisfaction you get from making your own money.
Financing a business is never going to be easy, and although the risks may be reduced starting a business at University, there’s still the small problem of getting the start up capital. For me, I didn’t like the idea of taking out a loan because I felt this would be an added financial pressure, so I used the small savings that I had left over from my gap year and decided to grow the business organically. This meant pouring all my profits straight back in and growing slowly but steadily. I couldn’t have grown it organically had I not had time on my side at University. There was no urgency to grow it quicker, other than my own frustrations at having to stay patient and focused.
Starting lovekimono at University was the best decision I made, and it’s taught me that with a bit of time management you can achieve your ambitions. When I graduate next year I hope to run the company full time and continue to grow it. It’s given me the confidence to think, if this is what I’ve done alongside my degree, imagine what I can achieve when my time isn’t compromised.
Camilla Sheppard is a 22 year old Hispanic Studies student at Kings College London and founder of lovekimono, an online retail website selling ladies nightwear. She started the business in 2010 alongside her studies and hopes to run it full time after graduation.