Have you considered becoming your own boss?
Every other day, Radio One’s ‘Newsbeat’ (relentlessly aimed at 15-29 year olds) reminds you that One Direction are more likely to drop off the playlist than you are to get a job that actually uses your qualifications. According to the ONS, 47% of recent graduates are doing work that doesn’t require a degree. So why not change tack? Whether you’re deciding which degree to take or are near graduation starting your own business could be worth considering as graduates make great entrepreneurs; just think of all the networking you do at university.
‘Tom’s Fudge’ is a successful confectionary business featuring in the BBC Good Food Show this year. It began as a student start-up, when three Loughborough University students (now graduates) started messing around with a ‘mother’s recipe’ in the kitchen of their student house. This could be you.
Here are some tips if you dream of ditching the grad scheme applications for working in your own backyard:
Make sure you’ve found a niche
You have to make sure your idea is different. It may sound obvious but, whether you’re planning to open a beauty salon or setting up a fry up delivery service, you need to make sure that you’ve sussed out the competition. What’s your unique selling point? What makes you different or more appealing than any other similar company in your local area or online? Are you really the first person to offer a reasonably priced pedicure? If you try to set up a cake business to compete on price with a supermarket, chances are it won’t be a goer. Offer cakes made to order (accepting whatever ambitious, outlandish and obscene requests that are thrown at you), boast the use of locally sourced ingredients and, who knows, you might be onto something.
Have a back-up plan
You’re convinced that people will love your business idea more than Facebook, McDonalds and Google put together. But, painful as it can be, you have to combine your positive approach with a healthy amount of caution. While the prospect of wearing your pyjamas to work and never having to defer to your supervisor again may be tempting, setting up your own business can be incredibly challenging. Somewhat depressingly, a 2012 study by the Harvard Business School found that three out of four business start-ups fail. There’s no reason why you can’t be in that successful 25% but you may need to consider keeping an additional part-time job, not only to help finance what you’re doing but to prevent you from being left with nothing.
Promote what you’re doing
It goes without saying that if the right people don’t know about what you’re doing, then your business won’t succeed. Even your devoted Gran’s brand loyalty will not be enough to keep you in the black if you’re not being savvy with advertising.
Maintaining a strong social media presence is essential. Try to post at peak times: 9am-3pm Monday-Thursday for Twitter and 11am-4pm midweek for Facebook (according to url shortening site bit.ly). Increasingly, video marketing is also becoming a beneficial and accessible tool for small businesses. A survey of 600 marketing professionals found that 82% of them had experienced a positive impact on their business as a result of video marketing. You could wield a camera yourself or perhaps enlist the help of a local video production company. This latter option should guarantee professional results and many firms will even run your entire video marketing campaign for you, ensuring it reaches the widest audience possible.
It may not be the pyjama-clad laze fest you dream of but starting your own business can be incredibly rewarding. And the prospect of never having to ask ‘do you want fries with that?’ again is certainly an enticing one.
Authored by Natasha Preskey