Running your own business can be hard work, up and down, fun, flexible and everything in-between! I absolutely love running Sophie’s Healthy Kitchen but it did not happen overnight. You have to graft, hustle, network and be prepared not to give up. I see so many nutrition students wanting to start their own business and being your own boss is not for everyone. I have invited Eli Brecher to share her experience of starting and running a business whilst perusing her nutrition degree…
Over to Eli –
Starting a business is exciting but challenging. If you’re thinking about starting a business while studying a full-time degree, there are lots of things to take into consideration, especially time management and finding the balance between work, study and everything else in life. Having your own business is often glorified on social media, with glamourous entrepreneurs using phrases like ‘girl boss’, but what you see online is really just the tip of the iceberg.
When I launched my business Eli’s Granola, I knew I had a great product sell. However, I had no idea where to begin in terms of setting up the business and the next steps to take, so had to learn many lessons along the way. Here are my 10 top tips and things I wish I’d known when starting out…
Decide whether you’re going to register as a limited company or sole trader.There are pros and cons of both so make sure you get professional advice and do what’s right for your business.
Write a business plan.Use Google for basic templates – it doesn’t need to include every single detail, but it’s a great way for you to reflect on your goals, consider your mission (what problem are you solving?) and think about your marketing and pricing strategies.
Speak to an accountant as soon as possible. It’s really important to get your accounts in order from the very start, to avoid sticky situations further down the line. A simple profit and loss spreadsheet will help you understand your business’ financial whereabouts and consider where you can cut unnecessary costs to become more profitable.
Think carefully about investment. You may decide to do a crowdfunding campaign or apply for funding from investors, both of which can be great. However, I chose to keep Eli’s Granola as lean as possible, putting every penny I earnt back into it. For me, raising capital was not a priority while still doing my nutrition degree, as I didn’t need the added pressure from investors.
Find a support network. One mistake I made was not seeking out a community of like-minded entrepreneurs sooner – but when I finally joined a group of founders of small food businesses, I found it so helpful to have people to bounce ideas off, ask for guidance or even just talk through my problems with (and there have been many!)
Research and obtain relevant requirements. In my case, that meant courses in food safety and hygiene, obtaining an allergen training certificate and having the local council carry out a kitchen inspection. It’s worth finding out whether there are any specific trainings or qualifications needed for your business.
Balance work, study and play. Managing a business is a rollercoaster in itself, but trying to succeed in a full-time nutrition degree at the same time can be a recipe burnout if you’re not careful. Make sure you implement boundaries, such as going to bed earlier, taking a lunchbreak, going for a walk and finding some time to exercise. By taking care of your physical and mental health, you’ll be able to work more efficiently when it comes to both studying and working.It’s essential to learn how to switch off, especially if you work from home where the division can easily become blurred. Give yourself a chance to recharge, socialise and do the things you enjoy. You’ll thank yourself!
Sometime you will need to make sacrifices. I’m still striving to find the perfect ‘balance’ and I often end up catching up with my to-do list on weekends and late nights. This is a reality for many business owners but it is a sacrifice I’m willing to make as I’m so passionate about both my business and my nutrition degree.
Try to get experience in a small business (or shadow someone self-employed). Starting your own business is not for everyone, so getting a taste of what it’s like will help you decide if it’s the right path for you.
Remember why you started. Starting your own business can become all-consuming, and there will be highs and lows. It’s that deep-rooted passion and sense of purpose that will keep you going through the tougher times.