Enterprise & Entrepreneurship (Self Employment)

Welcome to Enterprise & Entrepreneurship (Self Employment)


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 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 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. 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 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 gain their funding from grants and donations. Two well-known social enterprises are The Big Issue Foundation and the Eden Project.

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. We have a range networking events, workshops, start-up programmes and other activites for UK, EU and International students,  graduates and staff across the academic year to reach, engage and help participants.

Here is some further information about the initiatives that you can consider:

Prince’s Trust Start-up Day 

In partnership with The Prince’s Trust we run three start-up days for BCU students and graduates across the academic year with four individual sessions around business planning, business registration and funding and investment. 

Start-up Sessions 

Enterprise and Entrepreneurship run start-up sessions for students, graduates and staff across the academic calendar - a total of six workshops a year. Sessions cover starting-up | concept design and development, financial planning, concept overviews, business planning, funding and investment and pitching. Sign-up for the sessions through our What’s on pages.


In collaboration with the STEAMhouse programme, the Enterprise and Entrepreneurship team help engage with local SMEs to design, develop, create and run ten two-day STEAMlab challenges a year for BCU students and graduates. This enables you to work on and gain commercial experience and exposure that supports enterprise and entrepreneurship, as well develop your employability skills to gain graduate level employment. More information on go to the STEAMhouse.

 Support for BCU staff

The Enterprise and Entrepreneurship team supports 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. Course Leaders and Lecturers within BCU that require support to develop or deliver enterprise and entrepreneurship activity on courses please contact - enterprise@bcu.ac.uk

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