At PYT, we’re not just here to support the go-getters waiting to land their first job in fashion. We’re also massive champions of the ones that dream of starting a game-changing business.
According to Legg Mason’s 2017 Global Investment Survey, almost half of UK millennials want to start a business. Whether that be as a photographer, graphic designer, community leader or anything else that sets your heart on fire. We say “Go for it”.
Team PYT have been lucky enough to visit Universities all around the country. Hello Conde Nast College, UCA – Rochester, Ravensbourne, UCLan, London College of Fashion and Hertfordshire University. Chatting with you all has taught us one thing – you have some very cool ideas which are definitely worth pursuing. Why not get started on them right now and turn that final major project into a money-making machine.
No matter what your business idea may be, there are basic principles every founder needs to know and we’re here to share them with you. Let’s do this…
Ask the audience
The difference between a final major project and an actual business is something called ‘idea validation’. In short, you’ll need more than the opinions of your family and friends to guarantee that the idea will work. Our loved ones tend to be less honest and more lenient sharing their opinions. Whereas a complete stranger is more likely to tell you why they do or don’t like your idea without the risk or hurting your feelings or damaging the relationship.
Sharmadean Reid, founder of WAH Nails and Future Girl Corp, strongly encourages young business hopefuls to try and test their ideas as early on in the process as possible. Seek out your prospect audiences hang out spots online or IRL and conduct focus groups, surveys and product tests with them. You don’t have to worry about seeing them again and they won’t be worried about bruising your ego.
One of the greatest lessons University will teach any students is the art of dreaming big. Creative courses largely encourage it’s cohort to think outside of the box, to embrace all possibilities and to think conceptually. When approaching projects the question isn’t “How much money will I need to bring this to life?” in as much as it is “How big, bold, crazy and cool can I go?”. In theory, it’s a brilliant practice that pushes past boundaries, yet in the real world, things don’t work in quite the same way.
Although every university project doesn’t require a strict budget, every business must start with some money in the bank. This doesn’t have to be tens of thousands but a simply a realistic figure that covers the starting up costs. The amount will differ depending on the business idea, yet the most common areas of investment included a website, fabrics, equipment, software and manufacturing.
Keep hold of those big ideas! You’ll make them happen one day, but start with what you have, where you are and what is achievable for your amazing start-up.
Jack of all trades
Even if you fell asleep in personal development lessons or skipped them all together, I’m sure I don’t have to explain what a SWOT analysis is. Most third (or fourth) year students have a good understanding of their key strengths and use this to inform their chosen pathway. I can almost guarantee that your final major project is built around a topic you’re passionate about and/or have grown to become quite skilled in. For example, a student choosing to create a magazine for their FMP is either a talented journalist, photographer or has a good eye for layouts and art direction.
Yet, if you’re hoping to flip that project into a business, you will be challenged to address your weaknesses in a new way. Unless you have a business partner or the money to hire a team from day one, you will be running all departments required to make the business a success. This includes finance, marketing, business development, customer relations and more. Don’t panic – There probably isn’t a single entrepreneur in the world that counts themselves as an expert in all of these areas, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t give it their best shot.
Luckily there are apps such as QuickBooks to support with managing finances, great courses online to help develop your marketing plan, platforms like Twitter are fantastic for managing customers queries and the list goes on.
Get organised by making a list of the departments your business requires and sketch out a plan for how you’re going to juggle these tasks.
If you thought working on your final major project was hard, starting a business is even harder. It requires a strong dose of discipline and determination, but you’ll never know if you’re fully ready unless you give it a try.
TOP TIP: Don’t forget to utilise your existing University network to swap skills and expertise.
Words by Dior Bediako