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Starting your own business

The Government is keen to see small business enterprises grow into sustainable businesses. You can start a business for different purposes. A distinction often made is between 'for-profit' and 'not-for-profit' organisations. A social enterprise occupies the middle ground.

Whatever type of business enterprise you would like to develop, the words of wisdom from our UEL graduate entrepreneurs interviewed in the Create a job videos are invaluable.

Practicalities for starting a business

  • Do something positive towards your business every day.
  • Before you start, research your business - know the sector and keep learning - find out as much as you can about your competitors.
  • Find your unique selling point - what makes your business different?
  • Research business premises – there are a lot of good deals around.
  • Listen to others who you trust and glean as much information as you can.
  • Make sure you have a source of income whilst you are growing your business
  • Have a business plan that can be modified and adjusted.
  • Identify the weaknesses in your idea/company.
  • Interact with business people as much as you can - attend networking events.
  • Join societies - at university join the Entrepreneurship Society – if there is no society, start one.
  • Enter business competitions.
  • See other students and their ideas as a resource.
  • You have to know the business-side, the legal framework and finance - this may involve taking formal courses to teach yourself the basics.

Personal development

  • Look at things from new perspectives - always follow up new ideas.
  • Be determined and focus on your goals, don’t be negative - turn adversity to your advantage.
  • Never immediately reject things, and be adaptable.
  • Be confident and have self-belief - don’t be scared of responsibility.
  • Get people to like you and convey a ‘can do’ attitude.
  • Look as oneself as a brand.
  • Join committees - develop leadership skills and learn how to manage people.
  • Learn to communicate with different types of people.
  • Learn how to pitch ideas succinctly and with passion to different audiences.
  • Look for opportunities to practise and develop skills.

In the videos our experts have talked extensively about developing your skills. UEL provides you with many opportunities without even having to leave the campus.

What UEL offers the budding entrepreneur

Hot Hatch Docklands

The Hot Hatch is based in the Petchey Centre for Entrepreneurship in the Knowledge Dock Business Centre on the Docklands campus and is a unique business space where you will find a professional and supportive work environment and a base for your business. Start-up businesses can benefit from state of the art IT facilities with high-speed Internet, colour printing and professional meeting rooms as well as advice from in-house specialists.

In order to qualify for a place in Hot Hatch you need to have a business idea or self-employment proposal and fill out an application form. Panels of business experts will then look at your idea, give you feedback and invite you to talk about your proposal.

Researching a business plan

The Employability and Enterprise Team advises start-up businesses in producing a business plan, the document that underpins the development of a business. The Hot Hatch has a number of templates, tools and business information resources that can be used to help with your planning.

Funding advice

Funding for start-up businesses is hard to find. The Employability and Enterprise Team has links to charitable organisations that may help with finance. They also work with the local Enterprise Agency, the East London Small Business Centre who can advise on where to apply for funds.

E-Factor Venture Catalyst 2010

Venture Catalyst is based on UEL's E-Factor competition. It is an annual competition that offers students and graduates from UEL the opportunity to win a £1,000 business start-up grant to transform their business concept into a fully-functioning business. The 2010 competition was run in conjunction with students from universities across London, adding an additional competitive edge. The finalists are able to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts and receive further training.

XING / Flux500 2010

Xing is a tool to develop business ideas into enterprise proposals. It is used in a game setting where teams compete to develop scenarios and get expert feedback in the course of the game. Every Spring, a team of talented UEL entrepreneurs represents UEL at the National Flux500 competition.

The next opportunity to get involved will be in Spring 2011 in the run up to the national competition.

Young Enterprise

John May, the Chief Executive of Young Enterprise in a recent interview said:

“Graduates are lacking in essential soft skills such as independent thought, problem solving, working collaboratively, and engaging with people from different backgrounds.”

Young Enterprise has just launched its Start-up Programme that allows students to establish and run their own business in a relatively risk-free environment while at university. UEL also supports Young Enterprise teams in schools by training students to become volunteer mentors. If you would like to work with young people and help them with their school programme UEL can help you to get involved.

Entrepreneurship Society

The Entrepreneurship Society is a UEL Society created by and for students and supported by the Employability and Enterprise Team. Two of our students interviewed in the videos are recent members and were able to benefit a great deal from the experience.

The Society’s life patron is Jack Petchey and the list of annual patrons includes inspiring entrepreneurs from East London.

For information about any of the above UEL initiatives, please e-mail eet@uel.ac.uk or call 0208 223 2424.


What are social enterprises. (2010) Available at: http://www.bllondon.com/SocialEnterprise/Whataresocialenterprises/SESocialEnterprises.aspx (Accessed: November 2010 ).



Social enterprises are commercially run, profit-making organisations that are driven by social aims. Their profits are reinvested into social, community or environmental objectives.

Business Link definition of Social Enterprise