Even if you don’t what to start a business after university, you should think about leaving university with some amazing enterprise skills and experience which you can use in business, your own or someone else’s.
The development of these skills is important in building knowledge and experience which business can use, want to use and can use. Enterprise skills are employable skills which businesses want.
When selecting a university you need to think about what is and is not available in term of enterprise development, So what is best practice within the sector?
The first items to investigate are student societies. So look for an enterprise society, which is a student lead organization which allows like minded students to develop ideas, network and build business relationships while in a university environment. The second society is called, SIFE, Students In Free Enterprise which allows student with social responsibility to developer both their entrepreneurial skills while helping others.
Does the university offer an additional enterprise extra- curricular module for all students and does this create additional credits towards your degree. Employers like enterprising people and this is a great way of ensuring it enters your CV.
Then take a good look at the careers, enterprise and innovation departments will run skills development workshops which are outside the students course. These skills should include networking, ideas creation, sales, marketing, business and financial planning.
The entrepreneur in residence is the centre of the university enterprise culture, they have done it, started a business and don’t just speak about it. They have real experience which can be used as a sounding board which young students can use to explore, develop their ideas and find mentors which can help take the idea forward.
There should be a place where students can just walk-in and talk about their ideas about business and have an informal chat. Is this accessible and do any of the staff know anything about business, enterprise and development of skills.
Once the student has an idea, they are a number of options which should be made available to the student. The first point which most students needs is some funds, so the university making micro loans available can help move the idea forward. So ask what financial support is available?
Once you have an idea, an incubator can provide a space where you can get a desk, network with others and get a lot of business start-up support in the early stages. Its important to have a support network, which you can use to develop the skills and network.
The majority of universities will provide business start-up bootcamps which allow students over three days to develop their idea and plan the progress they need to build an idea into a start-up and then onto a growing business.
Not everyone will want to start a business, but the skills are very important, especially when working in small business, which accounts for 97% of UK businesses.
While at university having an internship with entrepreneur or a small business will help. Some universities offer this intern year spent developing the students’ own businesses.
To conclude, a university which allows you to gain real experience in which you can learn by doing and network with like minded people should be your choice. This will set you up for life and is worth every pound you will have to spend.