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We are now almost fully booked for Summer 2024 and expect to close registration in the next few days.

We are now almost fully booked for Summer 2024 and expect to close registration in the next few days.

How to Become an Entrepreneur: A Guide for Students

08 May 2024

How to Become an Entrepreneur: A Guide for Students


How to Become an Entrepreneur: The Ultimate Guide

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur wondering how you can start preparing for your future career?

This comprehensive guide on becoming an entrepreneur will give you a detailed insight into starting your own business. We’ll cover the steps you need to take, how to get experience, and the key skills required to give yourself the best chance of success. 

Read on to find out more, and see how InvestIN can help students gain the ultimate work experience in entrepreneurship

First, let’s define what an entrepreneur is.

What is an entrepreneur?

An entrepreneur is an individual who creates a new business, and is responsible for most of the risks involved. Entrepreneurs use their skills and initiatives to spot opportunities, solve problems, bring new ideas to market and, ultimately, make a profit.

Learn more about a day in the life of an entrepreneur in our helpful article.

How to become an entrepreneur 

While there’s no specific course, placement or qualification that will make you an entrepreneur, there are a range of actions you should take if you’re interested in entrepreneurship. These are:

  • Start with an idea
  • Build relevant skills and knowledge
  • Build a network 
  • Identify your market
  • Design your business and idea
  • Secure funding 
  • Build your business

Let’s look at these in more detail below:

Start with an idea

Entrepreneurship starts with an idea. This could be a new product or service, an improvement on an existing product or service, or something completely different; ultimately, it’ll need to solve a customer problem. To find ideas, you can think about existing markets – you may be able to offer something better or cheaper than what’s out there currently. You can also think of common pain points in life and business and come up with ideas to solve these problems. Remember, your idea can be simple, but you'll need to define what sets you apart from everyone else. Do your research in the field and hire a market researcher if you need to.

Build relevant skills and knowledge

Once you’ve got an idea, read around the industry and learn more about the products on offer, including what they do, how they’re marketed and so on. Stay curious and commit to continual learning, both within your field of interest and elsewhere. Keeping up-to-date with relevant industry publications will help you see what's trending, while going out and meeting people with the knowledge you need will ensure you’re as informed as you can be.  

Open-mindedness and a dedication towards learning are cornerstones of entrepreneurship, so try to develop these skills in all areas of life.

Build a network 

Despite what you may think, entrepreneurship is not a sole enterprise: all great entrepreneurs rely on relevant experts, mentors, partners, employees, investors and more. Putting yourself in situations where you can connect with these people will help you build professional networks you can utilise in your own creative endeavours.

Building networks within your field of interest is important, but don’t limit yourself to one area or industry. Remember, entrepreneurship relies on intellectual curiosity: try to make your network reflect this.

Identify your market

Get specific about the type of people you're targeting with your product or service. This will involve market research to determine demographics, creating detailed buyer profiles, setting up interviews with people who fit this profile and so on. You'll be able to use these findings to fine tune your offering.

Design your business and idea

Once you've developed an initial idea and performed some market research, you can begin to outline a business structure, business plan, prospective budget and so on. You'll need to cover things like your sales and acquisition process, your marketing strategy, the sales materials you'll need and more. This is what you'll show to potential investors, so make sure your plans are detailed and be prepared to explain your reasoning. 

Secure funding 

When you have a product and a plan, you'll need to secure funding to bring it to life. How you approach this stage will depend on the nature of your product and market, but options include:

  • Asking friends and family
  • Asking banks for a loan
  • Pitching to a venture capitalist
  • Business grants and loans, if available
  • Crowdfunding techniques

Build your business

Once you've received funding, you can begin to build your new business. This includes establishing a location, building a website, defining an organisational structure, promotion methods and more. 

When your business is up and running, your priority will be finding customers to purchase your product or service.

Key growth tips for entrepreneurs

Follow these key pieces of advice to maximise growth and minimise setbacks in the product creation and growth stages:

Make a detailed buyer persona

Market research and detailed buyer personas are essential when creating a product. This includes identifying your ideal customer, interviewing them, showing them a demo of your product, getting their feedback and so on. The more information you can get at this stage, the better fit your product will be for market.

Start with a minimum viable product

A minimum viable product (MVP) is an early, basic version of a product that meets the minimum necessary requirements for use, but can be adapted and improved in the future in line with customer feedback. Having an MVP means you can easily make changes to your product once you hear back from potential customers, and allows you to keep costs low if updates are necessary.

Iterate in line with feedback

Continue to improve your product as you market it and secure customers. This is a continuous process that requires gauging customer satisfaction and iterating in line with feedback. It's unlikely your MVP will be competitive in your chosen market, so this stage is essential to ensure you're providing the best product available once more people learn about your offering.

Should I find a co-founder?

Entrepreneurs have the choice to work alone or with a co-founder or co-founders. Let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of each option:

Advantages of choosing a co-founder

  • There's less risk: One of the main drawbacks of entrepreneurship is the risk involved. Without a co-founder, you're solely responsible for coming up with ideas, finding funding, completing necessary work and so on. A co-founder cuts your responsibilities and liabilities in half.
  • It's easier to get funding: Venture capitalists can be reluctant to fund sole founders, so having a co-founder can increase your chances of securing the necessary funds. Plus, you’ll have a wider pool of potential funding sources to draw upon.
  • You'll have professional and emotional support: Entrepreneurship is physically, mentally and emotionally taxing, so having a co-founder to share these responsibilities will relieve a lot of stress.
  • You'll have a wider knowledge, skill set and network: The more people you have involved, the more knowledge and skills you’ll be able to draw upon to solve problems and overcome challenges. You’ll also have a larger professional network between the two of you.

Disadvantages of choosing a co-founder

  • All potential rewards are split: Just like risks, any potential rewards are shared with your co-founders. Entrepreneurship is one of the most lucrative fields available, so if you’re driven by money, choosing a co-founder may not be the best option.
  • It can be difficult to find one: It's important to find someone whose vision, values and business ethics align with yours, and this can be tricky. Plus, finding someone who has a complementary personality can also be challenging.
  • There may be conflict: While disagreements are inevitable, a co-founder can give rise to conflicts that impact your work and your vision. 

Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong answer regarding whether to choose a co-founder: you’ll have to consider both options and go with whatever best suits your project.

How to gain experience as an entrepreneur

There are several ways you can get more experience as an entrepreneur, both directly and indirectly. These include:

Summer programmes and internships

Related summer programmes and internships are a great way to build the skills and knowledge necessary for a career as an entrepreneur. We offer a unique work experience opportunity in entrepreneurship that will help students grow personally and professionally as they take a step towards their dream career.

Our programmes can also support future university applications. InvestIN features as an official activity provider on the UCAS application form. Almost 80% of our surveyed alumni who referenced InvestIN on their application form received a place at their first-choice university. Book yours today, or contact us to find out more.

Networking with other entrepreneurs

Meeting and speaking to entrepreneurs is a fantastic way to get insights into the field that will support your own efforts. You'll be able to learn from their mistakes, try to replicate their successes and gain new ideas to explore.

Conducting research

Doing your own research into markets, products, successful entrepreneurs and the like will help you build valuable knowledge to inform your own entrepreneurial journey. 

Taking related courses

Look out for relevant courses at universities, online or in your local area. Courses in entrepreneurship, business studies, running a start-up and the like will all be helpful.

Joining a start-up

Joining a start-up is one of the best ways to learn about entrepreneurship. Whatever your role, you’ll see first-hand what it’s like to build a product, find customers, raise funds and more.

Volunteering for a non-profit

Non-profit organisations can present a chance for you to apply your skills and ideas to a real-world problem. They’re a positive place to work, full of people looking to make a difference in the world, and can provide great experience for a future in entrepreneurship. 

Start a side hustle

Starting a side hustle in something that you’re interested in – creating a product, a course, a service, or something similar – will force you to solve problems you’ll face in a career in entrepreneurship. You’ll also think about things like business strategies and marketing without the pressure of your livelihood depending on your success.

Hiring a business coach 

Hiring a business coach or consultant will help you develop key entrepreneurial skills. A coach can be your soundboard to talk through ideas, can guide you through difficult stages and help you and your business grow.

What skills are required for entrepreneurship?

Key skills for entrepreneurs include:

  • Adaptability
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Networking skills
  • Financial literacy
  • Communication skills
  • Time management skills
  • Sales and marketing skills
  • Resilience and determination
  • Drive and passion
  • Creative skills
  • Focus

Have a think about how you can start developing these skills now. InvestIN’s Young Entrepreneur Summer Experience is a great way to build key professional skills and knowledge.

For more general employability skills, view our guide.

Get ahead with InvestIN

We offer students an unmissable opportunity to experience their dream career before they've even left school, giving them invaluable insights and contacts to help them succeed. All our programmes are designed to help students get a head start, helping them learn and grow in confidence in their chosen field. Our entrepreneur programme is just one of several unique experiences on offer. You may also be interested in:

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.


Can anyone become an entrepreneur?

Anyone can become an entrepreneur, but the levels of hard work, dedication and experience it takes to become successful means that not everybody will reach the same heights. There are entrepreneurs from all demographics; what's important is that you can follow these actions:

  • Start with an idea
  • Build relevant skills and knowledge
  • Build a network 
  • Identify your market
  • Design your business and idea
  • Secure funding 
  • Build your business

What’s the difference between an entrepreneur and a freelancer?

The main difference between an entrepreneur and a freelancer is that an entrepreneur builds a business bigger than themselves, while a freelancer provides services to clients as a self-employed individual.

What’s the difference between an entrepreneur and an intrapreneur?

Entrepreneurs have full ownership of a company they started, whereas intrapreneurs work to create or develop a product at a company founded by somebody else. Entrepreneurship comes with more risk and reward than intrapreneurship.

What are the different types of entrepreneurship?

There are a variety of entrepreneurship types, including:

  • Small businesses entrepreneurship
  • Scalable startup entrepreneurship
  • Intrapreneurship 
  • Large company entrepreneurship
  • Imitative entrepreneurship
  • Innovative entrepreneurship 
  • Buyer entrepreneurship
  • Researcher entrepreneurship
  • Hustler entrepreneurship
  • Social entrepreneurship


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