3 min read

How to start a business at university

How to start a business at university

by Gregor Gray

Some of the world’s biggest names started at university, including Snapchat, Facebook and Google. Could your business be the next addition to that list? 

Never has the value of university been more contested than recently. Many prospective students are tempted to skip university, and jump straight into the working world.  

If you’re a prospective student with a business idea, it’s important you find a university that gives you access to the funds and expertise you need to reach your full potential.

In our blog, we’ve listed our top tips for aspiring business owners who are also applying to university, as well as the support available to Newcastle University students. 


Tips for starting a business at university

Students are innovative by nature, with a refreshing take on the world and an ability to notice gaps in products or services that others can’t.

It’s for this reason, and many others, that a huge number of businesses start at university. Read our advice for budding entrepreneurs who are current and prospective students. 


1. Interact with students who have different levels of knowledge and expertise

The beauty of university is you get the chance to mix with people from all walks of life, with varying experiences, outlooks and skills. 

This is a huge advantage you have over other start-ups. In one university flat alone, you might have access to a lawyer, a marketer and a graphic designer, for example. 

Build new friendships, learn from your peers and draw on their creativity or insight

2. Take advantage of spare time

When people start a business later in life, it’s often while they’re working full time too.

University students can have a lot of autonomy over how they spend their spare time outside of lectures and seminars. 

However, do remember why you’re at university in the first place. Your business should never interfere with your studies!

3. Build a network of connections

Universities house future business owners, world-class academics and experts, and they regularly invite guest speakers and host careers fairs with representatives from big-name brands. 

Fundamentally, they have lots of valuable business contacts under one roof. 

Take advantage of any opportunity to make an impression.

You could create a LinkedIn account during your studies, to connect with anyone you meet who you may want to work with further down the line. 




4. Apply your learnings practically 

If you’re studying a degree that’s relevant to the business you’re thinking of starting, then start applying your learnings practically. 

This means by practicing what you’ve learned in your lectures and seminars, you can further your business idea and strengthen your understanding of the course material.

It’s a win-win!


5. Reflect on your own consumer behaviour 

As a young person, it's likely you spend a lot of time online.

Think critically about what emails you open over others, what TikToks you're more likely to engage with or which social media accounts that tell the most compelling stories. 

There are countless case studies to draw inspiration from right at your fingertips. So start thinking like a brand.


6. Lean on your university's resources and services

Universities will usually have budget and support systems in place for those wanting to start their own business. 

Here at Newcastle University, we have START UP

START UP helps current students and recent graduates who want to work either as an independent professional without employees, or start a company with employees.


Newcastle University success stories

Besides providing co-working space, students and graduates can benefit from one-to-one support from a team of advisers, alumni entrepreneurs and a network of industry experts, investors and influencers.

There are currently 191 START UP-supported businesses trading with a combined annual turnover of £98.6 million. Between them, they've raised over £35 million in external investment, won national and global awards and created 672 full-time equivalent jobs.

START UP also awards students and graduates Founderships. One Foundership recipient, sportswear company Castore, is currently enjoying 100% year-on-year growth. Not to mention Sage, the multinational enterprise software company that was co-founded by Newcastle University graduate, Graham Wyle.


Your next steps 

There's still time to apply to university this year. 

When you attend university, you don't just get access to an education. For so many people, university is that crucial stepping stone towards success.

Explore our careers service to find out more about the support available to Newcastle students and graduates.