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Enterprise & Entrepreneurship (Self Employment)

Welcome to Enterprise & Entrepreneurship - Self Employment and Starting-up

Self-employment and Entrepreneurship

Are you full of good ideas and like to make things happen, but you don’t know whether starting-up your own business is for you?

About nine percent of students in university run a business as a side hustle and two per cent of UK graduates decide to become their own boss directly after graduation, and many more aspire to run their own business in the longer term.

Whether you already have a clear idea and are taking practical steps towards your dream, or you are just starting to consider self-employment, there are a number of issues that you will need to think about before deciding if this is the best option for you including business structure and planning, lifestyle implications, finance and premises.

Why consider it?

 There are many potential benefits of being an entrepreneur or self-employed, including:

  • Independence - Having the freedom to set your own hours, where and how you work
  • Job satisfaction - Reaping the rewards of your hard work can be very satisfying, while you also have the autonomy to do the things you love most.

However, you also need to consider some of the risks:

  • Lack of employee benefits - You won't get sick pay, holiday pay or any other employee benefit.
  • Responsibility - You're in charge of your pension, National Insurance and completing your self-assessment tax return and nobody is there to manage you or motivate you when things get tough.
  • Unpredictable finances - Your income can be irregular, especially in the early days.

Would it suit me?

You will need a strong product or service to offer. In addition, having the following personal qualities will help:

  • Creativity and innovation
  • Confidence and energy
  • Decisiveness and (calculated) risk-taking
  • Communication and networking skills

What are the options?

  • Freelancer/consultant - If you have skills, knowledge and experience in a particular field you can charge for your services. Common jobs for freelancing include actors, artists, musicians, photographers, journalists, web designers.
  • Sole trader - This type of business is owned and managed by one individual. There's no legal distinction between the owner and the company, meaning that all debts and after-tax profits are personally yours - this is called 'unlimited liability'. Specialist service providers such as plumbers, hairdressers and electricians are often sole traders.
  • Partnership - Similar to sole traders in that they are subject to unlimited liability, partnerships involve two or more people pooling their expertise to own and manage the business. A deed of partnership usually states how much capital each individual has contributed, how profits and losses are to be shared, and which partner is tasked with bookkeeping. Each partner pays tax and National Insurance on their individual profit. Professional service providers such as dentists, doctors and accountants often fall into this category.
  • Limited company - Unlike sole traders and partnerships, these businesses are registered at Companies House and have their own legal rights and obligations. Ownership is divided into equal parts called shares. Anybody who owns one or more shares is a shareholder. Limited companies offer limited liability - which means that the business, rather than its owners or managers, are responsible for the debts and profits of the company
  • Social enterprise - This type of business exists to benefit society or the environment. The profits are fully or in-part reinvested into the company to help its aim of doing social good. Social enterprises are different from charities in that they aim to fund their mission through trading activities - selling products and services to customers. Charities focus more on gain their funding from grants and donations. Three well-known social enterprises are The Big Issue, the Eden Project and TOMS.

Where can I get further help?

The Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Team at BCU offer advice and support for students and graduates interested in self-employment and starting-up a commercial or social enterprise. We have a range networking events, workshops, start-up programmes and other activities for UK, EU and International students, graduates and staff across the academic year to reach, engage and help participants.

Please see the Activities page for some further information on the sessions and support we offer as well as the pages for the start-up programmes we run that help students and graduates to become self-employed or to set-up commercial or social enterprises - BSEEN for UK and EU students and graduates and Start-up Visa for International graduates

Support for BCU Staff

The Enterprise and Entrepreneurship team are also happy to help BCU staff looking to become self-employed or start a commercial or social enterprise as well as offers support to Course Leaders and lecturers across the university to offer students insight in to enterprise and entrepreneurship on the curriculum with one-off and on-going sessions both on undergraduate and post-graduate degrees. We can also support the development of enterprise and entrepreneurship modules and courses, such as the MSc in Applied Entrepreneurship we are helping to develop in the Business School.

We aim to replicate success like this across other schools and courses and Course Leaders and Lecturers within BCU that require support to develop or deliver enterprise and entrepreneurship activity on courses please contact -

Further resources

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