Job satisfaction, setting your own hours, variety in your work and being in control of your own life are just some of the reasons why more and more people are becoming their own boss. Steve Bowden, Entrepreneurial Development Officer in the Careers Service, looks at the increasing number of Newcastle University graduates opting to start their own businesses.
More new businesses were created in the UK in the last 12 months than at any time in the last 10 years. Among them are a host of companies launched by recent Newcastle graduates who, having decided that corporate life and the traditional graduate job market is not for them, are taking on established businesses and sectors with their own innovative ideas, technology and services.
But what if you’re already in a traditional career and feeling like you’re lost in a sea of thousands of others? What if you’re frustrated by a lack of professional autonomy and worried about slow career progression? Just how do you realise your dream of being your own boss? Well, it’s time to get back in touch with the University’s Careers Service!
Rise Up is the Careers Service’s offer to graduates. Rise Up’s team of entrepreneurial development officers and business advisers are on hand to provide support, advice and access to funding for graduates, enabling them to start that personal endeavour and turn their dreams into a reality. What’s more, it’s completely free.
Business Adviser, Jackie Wade explains: ‘Whether you’re an enterprising student or graduate looking to change direction and ditch that corporate lifestyle, then Rise Up is here to support you.’
Jackie’s colleague, fellow Business Adviser Charlie Wainwright adds: ‘The support offered by Rise Up goes beyond the typical transactional approach to business support offered by so many external agencies.
‘Our support contains a high level of one-to-one coaching. You don’t have to come to us with a detailed strategy either; we can help you take an idea and develop it into a business plan.’
Jackie and Charlie are both keen to stress that it is as much about the process as the outcome. ‘It’s interactive,’ adds Charlie, ‘It’s about the long-term relationship and developing your ideas in a safe and supportive environment.’
Many budding entrepreneurs may question why you would return to an academic institution to receive business advice. ‘The perception is that universities don’t understand business and industry,’ says Jackie. ‘But our team has a lot of relevant expertise to share. I’m a business person and I’ve been in industry for over 30 years. I’ve run my own business for the last 15 years and I’m still in business.’
‘Rise Up has managed to recruit people with first-hand experience, knowledge and skills,’ says Charlie. ‘We’ve been there and done it and have an established network of contacts as a result.’
The ready-made infrastructure offered by Rise Up can be a catalyst for the development of entrepreneurs and new businesses. One of the main advantages of working with Rise Up is having access to good business advice, coaching and mentoring.
‘Having that resource, that network and that community to tap into can really help you gain confidence to get you through those early years,’ says Jackie. ‘It can get you on track and really help you explore setting up a business or a new portfolio.’
The success of Rise Up is evidenced by the variety of individuals and businesses who have engaged with it to develop their enterprise skills and entrepreneurial ambitions, from local firms to global businesses, and from heavy industry to digital media and social enterprises.
For Charlie, the message is clear. ‘Anyone can be an entrepreneur,’ he says. ‘Ideas are often borne out of frustration or curiosity and from seeing opportunities where others see problems. If you have an idea – then give it a try.’
So, if you’re considering making that change, ditching that job and turning that dream of running your own business into a reality, and you’ve graduated from Newcastle University within the last three years, then Careers Service and Rise Up want to hear from you!
Arches meets some of those who have benefitted from Rise Up:
Beauty by the Geeks
Brigitte West (BSc Biomedical Sciences 2014)
Beauty by the Geeks is a Science Beauty blog, which also runs a series of science and educational courses. The team is made up of science undergraduates, graduates, post-doctorate researchers and all-round beauty geeks who are not ashamed to admit their love of science. It’s not bacteria on petri dishes that gets them ticking; it’s the science behind beauty products. Beauty by the Geeks started up for exactly that reason – to demystify the science behind lotions and potions.
Brigitte completed her BSc Hons Biomedical Sciences in 2014 and has since participated in Rise Up’s Founderships Programme – an innovative pre-accelerator scheme for Newcastle University graduate entrepreneurs providing a comprehensive package of work space, advice, support and funding.
Roland Glancy (MSc Renewable Energy, Enterprise and Management 2010) and Dr Simon Barker (BEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering 2008, PhD 2012)
Radfan is an innovative add-on for traditional radiators. The idea was born in early 2011 as a solution to a personal problem. When Roland’s wife complained she was cold, he quickly realised that the heat from the radiator wasn’t getting to where it was needed. Two days later he had produced the first cardboard Radfan.
As Managing Director, Roland manages the commercial side of the business, from raising investment to making sure the surface finish on the Radfan is just right. As Technical Director, Simon handles everything technical, whether designing the product’s electronics to ensuring the website is working correctly.
The Fresh Shrimp Company
Tim Heyes and Ed Tame (both BSc Marine Biology 2010, MSc Aquaculture Enterprise and Technology 2012)
Tim Heyes and Ed Tame established their business tapping into heat from Lynemouth Power Station to produce an unlikely product for the North East: tropical king prawns.
The Fresh Shrimp Company uses a heat recovery system, which recycles process heat from the nearby power station, to bring the North Sea waters to 28°C (82°F), the optimal growing temperature for the king prawns.
The business partners have developed an on-site process in Ashington, Northumberland, which produces high-quality local produce and also eliminates the issues associated with importing frozen prawns over long distances from places like Asia and South America.
Hope Alive Foundation
Dr Olubusola Eshiet (Clinical Research Training (CRT) PgCert Research Training 2010, PhD 2014)
Dr Eshiet is helping to improve the lives of children and young adults in Nigeria and other parts of Africa through enhancing their literacy skills. She launched the Hope Alive Foundation for Literacy and Development (HAFLD) in January 2010 and has delivered training via a synthetic phonics teaching method to 450 teachers, which has positively impacted on the lives of over 13,000 pupils.
Through the charity, Dr Eshiet has since driven several projects aimed at the establishment of after-school literacy clinics. She has initiated and supervised programmes in teaching skills and in improvement in the reading and writing skills of pupils.
In recognition of her work, Dr Eshiet was named Entrepreneur of the Year at the Pride of Newcastle University Awards 2015.
Steve Bowden, Entrepreneurial Development Officer, is an audiovisual entrepreneur and business mentor with over 25 years’ experience of self-employment and managing businesses in the creative industries. He offers entrepreneurial and hands-on business experience with a focus on start-up and fast-tracking project development.
published on: 17 August 2015