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Top tips for starting a business while studying

Many of the biggest companies started while the founders were still studying. Two Stanford PhD students launched Google in 1998, while Mark Zuckerberg began Facebook out of his Harvard dorm room.

Whether you’re hoping to create the next social media phenomenon or looking for ways to fund your nights out, starting a business while studying can be a great career investment.

Following these tips on starting a business in university will have you well on your way to success.

Work out your timetable

Working out your timetable to determine how much free time you’ll have is an important factor to consider for any student start-up.

While you’ll likely enjoy a lot of free time as a university student, your main priority should always be your degree or qualification – you’re paying a lot of money for it, after all!

If you’ve crunched the numbers and are confident you’ll have time to start a side hustle, evaluate your decision frequently. This is especially important if your business grows or your university commitments increase.

Research an industry

Most students choose an industry that’s quick to pick up and offers a flexible approach, especially if it’s simply to make some extra money alongside studies. Popular business ideas to start at university often involve drop-shipping, affiliate marketing, or building websites.

However, if your long-term dream is to manage your own company, in-depth research into a range of industries will go a long way. You may have a rough idea but are unsure of the scalability or practicality of the business.

Research potential competitors and the wider industry to broaden your knowledge. Reach out to experts on LinkedIn or Twitter and see if you can pick their brains on how to start a business as a student. You’ll find that most industry leaders will be happy to advise a budding fellow entrepreneur.

Target a need

Many interesting business ideas begin with addressing a common need. This could be improving a common everyday action or bettering something within a specific niche.

Your hobbies may come in handy here – is there a product or service you wish existed? What about the rest of your student body? University peers are likely to be your beta users, so targeting them is a good way to get your business off to a profitable start.

Use your network

Though you might not have delved into the world of professional networking before, you immediately have an influential group of people at your disposal –  students. Universities are melting pots for exciting ideas and untapped potential, with many ambitious people just waiting to be involved with the next big thing.

Many students use university as a way to build their CVs, often with voluntary projects. Reach out to your nearby web developers, graphic designers, wordsmiths, or video editors, to help get your small profitable business idea rolling. You never know what kind of wonderful working relationship could blossom from these interactions.

Apply for funding

Student entrepreneurs often apply for funding for their companies, with some universities offering the chance for students to pitch their ideas to potential investors. This can be a huge step in securing the future of your business.

Outside of university, look for competitions or grants that award new businesses. Reach out to investors in your industry, or speak to local entrepreneurs to see if they are willing to help. Be prepared to showcase your business plan and explain how you would use their investment.

Many student startups are also funded with the help of family and friends – if you are particularly passionate about your project, don’t be afraid to ask them. They’ll likely want to help in any way possible to make your dream a reality.

Go online

The internet is choc-full of online business ideas for students, many of them great for making a quick buck or two.

If you want to earn some extra cash but aren’t too fussed about setting up your own company, going virtual could be a fantastic option.

Professions such as virtual assisting, content writing, graphic design, and social media management can all be done from the comfort of your university bedroom. You can also be freelance, setting your own hours or stop ping if it becomes too demanding.

That’s not to say these roles shouldn’t be taken seriously – many students go on to build reputable careers from their online freelance work. Always make your clients aware of your other commitments or if you intend to step away from work.

Be prepared to make sacrifices

Figuring out how to start a business as a student often means admitting you’re willing to make certain sacrifices. This is especially true if your intentions are more long-term.

Working on your business may mean you have less time to socialize or less money to spend on things like clothes or meals out.

While we don’t recommend becoming a tight-pursed recluse to make your business work, it’s important to reevaluate your priorities. If your interesting business ideas are successful, it will be worth it in the long run.

Look after your health

Because managing a company and studying can be a gruelling process, it comes with a range of health risks.

Always ensure to prioritize your mental and physical health when starting a business in university. Burnout is a common hazard when combining work with studies and should be taken seriously. Check in with yourself regularly and ask others to keep a closer eye on you. Step back from the process if you are struggling to cope, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it.


Coming back to a home you love will make your student business run much more smoothly. At Pickard Properties, we have an exceptional range of stylish student lettings to choose from. Get in touch today and find your dream rental.

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