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Got an idea? Top tips on becoming a studentpreneur

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Entrepreneurship is at an all-time high among students and graduates, many of whom are vying for the next Mark Zuckerberg success story. A recent report by The Prince’s Trust and The Royal Bank of Scotland Group revealed that 25% of young people are increasingly thinking of starting up their own business, which supports the growing number of those doing just that – 71,000 additional people since the start of the recession!

Starting up a business doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming, thanks to the plethora of services now at your fingertips. If you’ve got some spare time, we’ll show you how you can use it more productively.

Business advice and funding

If you’ve been sitting on a brilliant business idea that you think has real potential, do turn to family and friends first to garner some honest advice and constructive criticism. They’re likely to be the most forthcoming and could uncover something you didn’t realise could benefit your business greatly. Make use of your university’s careers advisor too; they might be able to provide further guidance on where you can go for specialist advice.

If you need a bit of money to get your business going you can turn to the public for funding through popular crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and Crowdcube. Try not to delve into your student loan though – save that for your studies!

Branding your business

You probably have a few ideas for the name of your business but to protect yourself from potential name infringement issues, do enter prospective names through Companies House first. It takesjust a few seconds to find out whether the name has already been taken so this should help narrow them down if you’re having trouble shortlisting favourites.

Next, set up your social media accounts. Depending on the nature of your business, two or three accounts may be enough with Facebook and Twitter being a given. LinkedIn is great for networking too so do keep this account updated.

Now you need to set up your website – remember that you have just seconds to make a first impression so spend a bit of time making sure that it is user-friendly and provides a glimpse into your business at a glance. Wix and Squarespaceare great for website-building if you have no knowledge of coding – just choose your design and follow the steps online. You’ll have a stylish, functional site in next to no time!

Employees

As your business gets off the ground, you may want to start thinking about employing staff. Remember that although you will want to maintain control of your business, you can’t do everything yourself so consider hiring staff so you can work more efficiently. If you are able to go down this route, keep in mind that you are still legally required to issue an employment contract, even if you hire help from close family and friends! But don’t be put off - there are now online services that cater to start-ups, allowing you to create essential legal documents quickly and affordably so you have solid legal footing from the start.

Also, make use of tools like Google Hangouts which allows you to hold group video calls free of charge so you don’t have to waste time travelling to and from locations if you need to hold meetings or interview potential new members.

Taxes

Not the most exciting part, but it is necessary! You must register your business for tax purposes and you can do so online through HMRC easily. Keep all important documents like invoices and receipts organised from the start – if you need extra cloud storage to keep your files safe, Google Drive offers 15GB free! Dropbox is also a popular option.

The final touches

Set up a business bank account to maintain a high level of professionalism. This also keeps your personal and business finances separate for tax purposes, which will make it easier to calculate in the long run!

Branded business cards are an excellent way of spreading the word about your new venture when networking in person. Vistaprint often offer free business cards (you just pay postage) or if you want to make a really special first impression, MOO is great for those with a creative streak. And don’t forget to detail social media contacts on your cards – these could actually prove to be the most valuable and immediate when making that re-connection.

By Mark Edwards, General Manager at www.rocketlawyer.co.uk, an online legal service providing families and businesses with easy-to-use, professional legal documents and affordable help from specialist lawyers.

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