5 essential resources for aspiring entrepreneurs
Creativity, originality and determination are all traits you need to make it as an entrepreneur. But even the most imaginative idea requires some business knowhow to become a success.
Luckily, there are plenty of great resources and events aimed at giving undergraduates and recent graduates the knowledge and experience they need. We take a look at five of the best.
1. University enterprise societies
Join your university's enterprise society and you'll get the chance to try out your business ideas in a safe environment. You'll also make connections and gain skills that will prove valuable even if you decide entrepreneurship isn't for you.
The enterprise society based at Warwick University offers business trips, workshops, mentoring and even start-up services including web design, hosting and printing.
If you're not quite ready to take the plunge, many universities also have incubator units or hatcheries that offer support and resources at the pre-start-up stage.
2. Business competitions
Even if your business idea in its very early stages, entering a competition aimed at young entrepreneurs can give you valuable pitching experience, as well as the opportunity to win prizes. For example, if you enter Santander's Universities Entrepreneurship Awards you could win mentoring sessions, cash or start-up support.
The Varsity Pitch Competition is another high profile event for students and recent graduates. Entrants submit a 60 second video pitch, followed by a live pitch if they make it through to the semi-finals. The final six entrepreneurs then face a weekend of tough enterprise training at a mentoring boot camp, before they pitch their idea to a panel of industry experts. The winner receives £10,000.
Fancy your chances? Head over to the NACUE website and download the applicant pack.
Step is a national organisation that provides 8 week placements and 6-12 month internships for students and recent undergraduates. Students taking part receive a training allowance to cover expenses, while graduates on internships are paid a salary.
It's worth bearing in mind that most of Step's placements are with smaller growing companies, as this enables participants to meet and work alongside everyone involved with the business.
If you take part, you'll gain a solid understanding of how businesses function and grow. Impressively, over 80% of Step's graduate internships become permanent roles.
Keen to get started? Head to the company's portal and fill in a personal profile. Once you've been accepted, you can apply for placements. You'll have to attend a telephone interview or take part in an assessment before being invited to a formal interview.
4. The New Entrepreneurs Foundation programme
This unique 12-month programme offers final year students and recent graduates the chance to spend a whole year working in entrepreneurial teams at high growth innovative organisations. By working alongside CEOs and senior managers, participants will discover how to run a successful company.
The NEF programme includes five elements. If your application is successful, you'll attend a placement with an entrepreneurial company; take part in monthly business workshops; network at speaker events; receive executive coaching and be paired with a mentor.
Applications for 2019 open in January 2018 and if you register your interest, you'll be asked to complete a task and submit a video about yourself. After this, a telephone interview will test your communication skills.
The next stage is a selection day, which involves group activities designed to challenge you and take you out of your comfort zone. At the end of this day you'll attend a formal interview. If your application is successful, you'll be introduced to a variety of host companies but it's up to you to secure a placement before the course begins.
Conferences offer a valuable chance to network and collaborate with other entrepreneurs. The largest student conference in North-West England, What Next, aims to "awaken your entrepreneurial potential." The programme includes opportunities to hear inspirational speakers, meet business leaders and take part in a pitching competition.
It's also worth attending the Student Enterprise Conference, organised by the National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs. This event is packed with practical advice and guidance for any students considering entrepreneurship. Activities on offer include workshops, panel sessions, talks and investment advice sessions.
Becoming an entrepreneur may be a challenge, but if you make the most of the expert help and advice on offer, you can achieve success. Go for it!
Anna Whitehouse writes for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To browse graduate jobs London and graduate jobs Manchester, visit their website.