Harvey Morton, Youth Ambassador and IPSE Young Freelancer of the Year 2018, shares his 5 top tips on starting your own business while you are still studying. He’s been there, done that, and now he’s here to share!
My journey into the world of freelance and enterprise started in 2013, when I founded my own company, Harvey Morton IT Support, while I was still at school. I started my business through a school enterprise competition called the BiG Challenge, where teams from schools and colleges in the Sheffield City region get £25 to start-up a business and those who are most successful after two school terms can win several prizes. After winning various awards in the competition, while juggling GCSEs and A-Levels, I managed to forge a successful business and develop a fantastic reputation with clients throughout the UK and further afield.
I initially offered on-call IT support for individuals and businesses. As the business developed, I started to provide additional services, like web design and social media management. Having recently relaunched the company as Harvey Morton Digital, I offer superb solutions to digital problems, and pride myself on always going the extra mile!
My journey to get to where I am today hasn’t been easy, but I’ve developed a successful career for myself, all from stepping outside of my comfort zone.
If you would like to start a business while you are still studying, go for it. There are so many extra-curricular activities you can do to boost your employability skills and your CV. Coming up with your own business idea is a great option.
When I first started out, lots of my first customers and some teachers at my school questioned whether I was old enough to start a business. If you’ve got the skills and you’re passionate about what you do, why do you have to be an adult to start making money? What they fail to tell you in school is that being “older” doesn’t necessarily make you “better.” What it makes you is different, and you’ll definitely stand out from the rest of your classmates – I promise.
If you’re considering starting a business while you’re still studying, here are my top tips:
Consider what you’re good at and run with it!
What are your skills? It’s always better to start a business around something you can do better than anyone else, and, most importantly, something you’re passionate about. After all, your business will never be a success if you’re not excited about it. Plus, running a business alongside your studies is really tough, so it’s got to be something you see as a hobby and not a chore. For me, my friends and family always asked me for help when it came to anything IT-related, and I’d built up a good track record for being able to solve problems efficiently, so I decided to start generating some money from what I was good at.
When I started out, I found I had to be really assertive, and believe in myself that what I was doing was right. Lots of my friends, family and teachers were very supportive, but other teachers were very concerned about the time I was spending on my work (rather than theirs). Initially, I had to be quite assertive, but when I started making some real progress and getting some recognition, people couldn’t have been more supportive. I typically find it useful to seek lots of people’s opinions, but ultimately go with your gut and take feedback with a pinch of salt. There have been a few moments along the way where I nearly stopped what I was doing due to others’ conflicting opinions, but my gut told me that I would benefit from long-term success by keeping my business going, and I was right.
Plan, plan and plan!
Managing my time efficiently is always my biggest challenge! If you’re running a business while studying (or if you take part in anything extra-curricular), you’ve got to be good at planning and managing your time. If you see your business as a hobby, it won’t feel like you’re working, but, make sure you give yourself some rest too – you don’t want to burn out. Write to-do lists and prioritise what is essential, and, how long you are going to spend on each task.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
So many people have been so generous with their time when I’ve asked for help. Asking for help isn’t something you should be afraid of because most people will naturally want to guide you along your journey. Use people around you who can share their experiences and offer alternative perspectives on any decisions you’ve got to make, it will help you to avoid making some mistakes along the way. After all, it’s always better to get multiple opinions and consider your choices wisely.
Be proud and shout about what you’re doing!
When I first started out, the thought of networking with others, and approaching someone to tell them about my business was something I found very daunting. When you’re young though, most people will welcome you with open arms and networking is often the best way to promote yourself and connect with people who can help you to advance your idea. Don’t be afraid to shout about successes you’ve had, it will help you to meet new people, and you’ll never look back once you’ve started networking.
I’ve learned more from running my business than I ever did in the classroom, and I would thoroughly recommend that you have a go at starting a business while you’re studying too. It’s led to me having lots of success and gaining national recognition. It’s also how I got into volunteering as a Youth Employment UK Ambassador and that in itself has helped me to learn so many new skills and gain new opportunities.
Be ambitious and commit to your idea – you’ll have fun!