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Students in Business

29th October 2012

A new trend is emerging at universities across the UK: students are proactively avoiding the struggle of securing a graduate job by embarking on a route to self-employment whilst studying. According to a recent survey of 1,000 students commissioned by Viking:

• 70% of students find the prospect of starting a business appealing given the difficulty of the job market at the moment
• 90% aren’t afraid to take risks
• 85% are dedicated to succeed in business, promising ‘never to give up’
• 40% are prepared to sell personal belongings or fundraise to acquire enough capital for their start-up

Whilst it may appear naïve or daunting for 18-25 year olds to start up their own businesses without any previous work experience and alongside the pressures of studying, the latter three statistics reveal key entrepreneurial traits. Some of the most successful businesses are run on a blend of energy, fresh thinking, enthusiasm, perserverance and discipline; attributes many students have in large measures. Young entrepreneurs face the same challenges as any start-up, such as obtaining finance and establishing a customer base, but the government is getting behind this tide of budding business owners. David Cameron recently declared: "The future of our economy depends on a new generation of entrepreneurs coming up with ideas, resolving to make them a reality and having the vision to create wealth and jobs".

Support programmes are sprouting up across several university campuses:

• ‘BaseCamp’ at Bristol University helps students to get their ideas off the ground by offering free office space, seed funding and a mentor programme (

• ‘The Hatchery’ is the business incubator at Sheffield Hallam University, provides students with a creative space to develop ideas and meet like-minded peers and 24/7 office facilities (

• ‘HeadStart’ at Nottingham Trent University is a structured process to help students shape their business concept, identify and evaluate the opportunities and potential, and structure a business plan (

Successful products of these programmes include Sam Piranty, who benefitted from BaseCamp funding to set up film production company InHouse Media, and Adam Roberts, who runs his business Go Dine from a hot desk at HeadStart.
Adam comments: “the support we receive from the team is excellent and it's good to share your ideas with other entrepreneurs based here. I have monthly meetings with a mentor which sharpens my focus and helps clarify my thoughts. We are fortunate that the university was forward-thinking enough to establish HeadStart. There should be more schemes like this for entrepreneurs - if you are inexperienced in business, it is almost too difficult to set up without this kind of backing."

In summary, universities are hot beds for entrepreneurial ambition and students should be encouraged to cultivate their ideas into commercial ventures. Nurturing young talent will doubtless produce a host of unique products and services and give the economy a much needed shake-up.

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