How & Why to Start Your Own Business after Graduation

It is quite normal to feel ecstatic about university graduation; after working so hard for 3 (or more) years, doing countless assignments and stressful exams – it can feel good when it’s finally all over.

On the flip-side however, it’s likely that you’ve just enjoyed the best 3 years of your life, made some close friends and got used to living with your peers and enjoying the student lifestyle.

Moving back home and finding a job can be quite a difficult transition. In fact, post-graduate depression is a real problem, although it seems to attract little media attention. 

The job market is not always setup to absorb yearly graduates in a given field or sector and even if the job market in your area of study is hiring; if you don’t have relevant experience or don’t want to move to a major city – it can feel like you’re stuck in a post-graduate rut.

One option to look into, to sharpen your real-world skills and to develop experience – is to start your own business. Even if you do not earn a huge amount of money, if you live back with your parents and have minimal overheads, now is the ideal time to give it a go.


Why Start Your Own Business After Graduation?

Many employers directly state that in order to apply for their ‘entry-level’ jobs, they are looking for 1 or even 2 years’ of relevant experience. 

Depending on your field of study and the type of work you are interested in, you can gain valuable experience in your industry by starting your own business. For example, if you studied marketing, working as a marketing freelancer or even starting your own agency might be the best way to gain valuable experience. 

In addition, many employers will admire your ambition and flair for starting your own business. Taking control of your career and taking positive steps towards making something of your qualifications shows real character. 

On top of gaining relevant experience, you may have to bluntly look at the alternative – being unemployed. Competition for graduate jobs is huge, with employers able to pick and choose from a huge pool of candidates. It is not uncommon for graduates to apply for low-skilled jobs and jobs that have absolutely nothing to do with their degrees because they are crowded out of a specific job market.

If you don’t have children to provide for or rent to pay, the months after graduation, may be the best point in your life to start a business. In the digital age, it’s possible to start your own business online for very little financial investment, especially if you learn how to build your own website and do your own marketing.

It is quite common to start a business from your spare-room in 2020, with the ability to get a virtual address, a phone answering service and a professional looking website – it’s very difficult to tell the difference between work-from-home businesses and those with a bricks-and-mortar presence. Working from home with few monthly bills to worry about can able you to undercut some of the bigger companies and build a client or customer base.

There are also the other perks of being self-employed to think about. Although registering a company and doing your taxes does not inspire too much excitement in most graduates, having a flexible schedule, being your own boss and building your empire can be extremely exciting and rewarding. 

How to Start Your Own Business

Have an Idea

The starting point of establishing your own business, is to have an idea for a business! If you don’t have one, then try doing your own idea-generation session.

You can literally start by doing a search on Google. If you degree was in marketing for example, start a search for the word “marketing” and make note of the Google suggested searches.

After this, type “marketing a” in the address bar – and make note of any interesting suggested searches. Next type in “marketing b”, and so on up to “marketing z”.

Once you have completed this a-z process, do a search for “marketing” and scroll down to the bottom of the search results page and take a look at the “Searches related to marketing” at the bottom.

If nothing inspires you via Google (or Youtube), write down all the problems related to your industry. Then, see if you can solve the problems with a business idea. Using our marketing example, search for “difficulties with marketing a business” and take a look at the results. You can also ask business owners, what problems they face when it comes to marketing, sales and building a brand.

You can use a number of idea generation techniques to come up with a novel business idea, including the SCAMPER technique

Once you have your idea – you can also use idea generation techniques, to come up with a business name. Try and use something that conveys what you do, that isn’t difficult to pronounce and that has the .com domain name available.

Check Your Domain Name & Business Name

Before you set your heart on a specific business name, use a domain name search platform such as the one at GoDaddy to see if the .com is available. You should also check Companies House to see if the limited company is available. Even if you don’t want to register as a limited company, it can be a good idea to check its availability in the future in case you change your mind in the future, or even get accused as ‘passing off’ as another business.

Do your market research

Again, you can use Google for a shortcut here. Instead of doing conventional market research, you can get an idea of competition by using the Google Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest.com to check the “Cost per Click” of advertising on Google. A higher cost per click, tends to suggest that competition is higher.

You can also check out the search volume for each search term to see approximately how many people search per month for your product, service or idea.

If your business will offer a product, a great way to develop some useful insights is to conduct a search on Amazon for your product and look at the reviews. The bad reviews – 2 stars or less, will often give priceless insights into where and how a product could be improved and helps you to identify the weaknesses related to competition. 

Finally, you can also use Google Trends to see if interest related to your business idea is increasing or decreasing. For example, you could search for “online personal trainer”

If you are offering a service, you could do the same with Google and Google Maps. Simply search your business niche/idea – e.g. “marketing agency”, click on the Maps option in the Google results and look at all the poor reviews. If you look at enough reviews from different companies, you will get an idea of any potential gaps in the market.

If interest is declining sharply, you might want to rethink your idea.

Traditional market research involves interviews and surveys with customers in your relevant niche. This is definitely worth doing, but is more time consuming.

Make a Business Plan

If you are highly organised, or want to access funding then you will probably need a business plan.

According to the website Entrepreneur.com, a business plan is a “written document describing the nature of the business, the sales and marketing strategy, and the financial background, and containing a projected profit and loss statement.”

Start off by creating your company profile – including your product, service and your target market. Also include your company format – i.e. sole trader or limited company. Then write a section about your strengths, weaknesses, main opportunities and threats to your business – this is your S.W.O.T. analysis.

You will also need a section (usually in table format) that assesses the competition and a sales/financial forecast table, which includes your start-up costs. You may want to include how you will manage your accounts here and include any relevant fees. Depending on your industry, you may also have to apply for grants and licences. 

Depending on what you need your business plan for, it can get pretty complex. It’s is best to use a template to guide you. There are several templates on the Prince’s Trust website.

Look for Help & Funding

Your university – either the one you graduated from, or the one most local to you, can usually provide some help with your first business in terms of guidance, as well as pointing you in the right direction when looking to apply for funding and loans.

You can find more information about funding on the gov.uk website.

This article has been a quick overview of the benefits of starting your own business and how to go about it.

Realistically, you can start a business in 2020 by just setting up a website and offering services or products online. Especially with the popularity of drop-shipping, you can sell literally hundreds of products without having stock anything. 

If you can afford to, and need to build up a client-base or some testimonials for your business, it might be an idea to offer your services for free to begin with. This can also be a valuable way to gain some experience too, which in turn could help with job applications is that is your goal.

Hannah Madison:
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