4 challenges student businesses face

With figures showing that graduates are facing a tough employment market, now is the time for you to act on any business ambitions.

However, many students believe university is a place to study rather than set up a business. It’s not always easy trying to balance student life and a businesses, and here are some challenges you will face on your start-up journey:

Funding sources may not take you seriously

It may be difficult to persuade banks that you are serious about your business idea. As students who may have no credit history and a student loan, securing funding from a bank will come as a real challenge, as they will not take you seriously until you have graduated. Until then, there is actually a range of funding solutions available.

There is a wide variety of business grants available: from the government, the local council, and from the EU. There are also grants available from bodies such as the National Confederation of University Entrepreneurs (NACUE). The Hub also has a financial mentor who will be able to give impartial confidential advice, contact unikenthub@kent.ac.uk .


Balancing Social life, Business life and studies

For student business owners work-life balance isn’t straightforward. Especially as your business is growing, you will find yourself deep in the needs of your company. It can be hard to break away and manage your degree deadlines at the same time, and even forfeiting a typical student lifestyle.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, says the keys to maintaining balance for him are flexibility, delegating work and prioritising time for fun. “I find that technology is a great help—I use phone calendars, email reminders and mobile reminders to manoeuvre my way to each meeting, event and party,” he wrote on Entrepreneur.com. “You can also use these things to make sure you have time to eat regularly and that you can get a good sleep.

You may need to work extra hours when it is particularly busy, but it will contribute to your commitment to your business and its success.


Space limitations


Some student landlords are more than happy for you to run a business from your rented accommodation, but others are not. There may be alterations to a tenancy contract, disruptions to the neighbours, and even alterations to insurance.

You will need to identify the type of premises you need for your business (e.g. office, retail, industrial). You will also need to determine the premises accessibility, space requirements and how much you will need to spend on space if your business expands.

Use contacts, local business organisations, publications, and university advisors to help find potential premises.

The Hub is a purpose-built incubation space for entrepreneurship and enterprise in Canterbury and offers a professional working environment with business support to assist new businesses. The Hub’s professional workplace facilities include:

  • Access to Fully furnished workspace units
  • Kitchen facilities and access to catering services
  • Reception area during office hours and related services
  • Access to the University’s information services, including the University library
  • Waste collection included
  • Free parking
  • Highspeed WiFi network access
  • Professional business registration address and mail forwarding service

Just one monthly bill of £166* per month! This is inclusive of utilities (excluding telephone).


Tough decisions

As a student entrepreneur you will be facing and handling big decisions for the first time, which can be unnerving. You will need to decide what to spend profit on, if you should employee staff, and how to advertise your business. Make sure you make the most of the support being offered by the University and the business mentors who can help you.

Becoming a student entrepreneur is a journey full of challenges; it is natural to be cautious. Empower yourself by researching and understanding the business. The more you know about your business, the more confident you will be. Talk to other entrepreneurs, read books, and seek the support team at the University, unikenthub@kent.ac.uk

Starting a business will also include risks, but there will never be a better time to start a business than when you are a student.

Hub for Innovation and Enterprise offers free business advice sessions to all students, staff and graduates of the University to help them develop and progress their business ideas. These 1-1 session are completely confidential and free of charge.

Initially you will meet with a member of the Hub Team, who will provide: guidance, basic information, and suggestions; and will then signpost you to the relevant Hub Advisors and Mentors for more advanced business advice. https://www.kent.ac.uk/enterprise/hub/startup/business-advice.html

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