Five tips for graduates going self-employed


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Getting a Job, import, Working From Home

A recent feature in The Guardian ran with the headline: ‘[Graduates warned of record 70 applicants for every job](http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/jul/06/graduates-face-tougher-jobs-fight “Graduates warned of record 70 applicants for every job”)’ The next line went: ‘Class of 2010 told to consider flipping burgers or shelf stacking to build skills’. Was I the only one thinking flipping burgers and shelf stacking is a flippin’ great way to earn part-time income whilst building a freelance career or small business? For all graduates considering going freelance or self-employment, here are five tips along with stories of those who’ve been there and done it.

### 1. Start now!

If you’re an undergraduate and looking at the job market with dread, start taking small steps now to earning an income. Is your degree in languages? Become a private tutor via sites like [First Tutors](http://www.firsttutors.co.uk) or sell your skills to business through the likes of [Lingo 24](http://www.lingo24.com) and [Language123.com](http://language123.com). Are you good at making things? Make a few more and upload to sites such as [Folksy.com](http://Folksy.com) and [MyEhive.com](http://MyEhive.com) so you can sell to a wider audience. Kane Towning started on the path to self-employment whilst at Leeds University and as soon as he graduated, became full time director of [AIM Clubbing](http://www.aimclubbing.co.uk); an events company set up with two fellow students and friends.

### 2. Seek out help

There is plenty of help on offer whilst you’re studying –- and still when you leave. Whilst studying, check to see if your College or Uni hosts an enterprise society; [NACUE](http://www.nacue.com) is a good source for this. Make the most of events, competitions and Awards hosted by [National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship](http://www.flyingstartonline.com) and [Shell LiveWIRE](http://www.shell-livewire.org) and why not take on work experience with entrepreneurial upstarts so you can learn on the job via sites including [Enternships](http://www.enternships.com) and [Gumtree](http://www.gumtree.com).

### 3. Club together

Does starting a business seem a bit too daunting when you haven’t even left learning? Then pool your talent, join with friends and start that way. This is what the three amigos Oliver Sidwell, Ali Lindsay and Chris Wickson did when they came up with the idea for [RateMyPlacement - Work Placements & Internships for Student](http://www.ratemyplacement.co.uk/ “RateMyPlacement – Work Placements & Internships for Students – Student Reviews & Jobs – Rate Your Placement”) whilst studying at Loughborough University. After graduating, they all secured jobs and worked collectively on the business at nights and weekends. That was three years ago and the company is now a startling success.

### 4. Go Global

To be sure of a wide market for your products and services, go global from the start. Technology enables you to do this with sites such as [Odesk](http://www.odesk.com/w/ “Outsource to Freelancers, IT Companies, Programmers, Web Designers from India, Russia, USA, and more”) and [Elance](http://www.elance.com/p/landing/buyerA3.html “Elance | Outsource to freelance professionals, experts, and consultants – Get work done on Elance”) allowing you to be found by customers around the world if you’re selling time and knowledge and having your own website (with good search engine optimisation) increases your chances of picking up overseas trade.

In business, the world truly is your oyster and think of all the places you’ll get to travel to meet clients, and taste local culture!

### 5. Thanks be to folks

I hear from many students who are running a business and getting much-needed help from parents whether it be rent-free accommodation or having a bookkeeper/mentor/telephone receptionist on tap who won’t expect a salary in return! Arthur Guy started ['a star solutions'](http://www.astarsolutions.co.uk/ “‘a star solutions’ – Audio & Video Leads, Adapters and Accessories”) when he was 17, after working at an electronics store. He’s now completing a PhD at Sussex University so his Mum takes care of the day to day running of the business. Thanks, Mum!

Even if you don’t turn your business into a full time venture, the experience of being your own boss and showing you have the attitude and skills to make a living will look good on your CV and set you apart from those other 69 applicants.

###### [Emma Jones](/author/emmajones) founder of [Enterprise Nation](http://www.enterprisenation.com), a business expert, and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up’ and ‘Working 5 to 9’

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###### Images:

* [j.o.h.n. walker](http://www.flickr.com/photos/whatcouldgowrong/4608963722/) ~ [cc](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en)
* [thinkpublic](http://www.flickr.com/photos/thinkpublic/2037224105/) ~ [cc](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en)

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/Y36URIMUXEKDXDHW4DAJETU23U Mel

    In my experience as a student there were a fair number who would sneer at the idea of 'flipping burgers' or 'stackin' shelves,' but of course it's all experience which can help fund your real career interests. The idea that you get a degree and automatically get the job you want is, in most cases, naively assumptive.

  • http://twitter.com/selfemployedguy Self Employed News

    I did MBA and sites like Odesk helped me a lot to fullfill my Self employed Dream

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