How to develop your entrepreneurial skills at university

​Kristian receives his Countdown to Launch award from Indycube's Mark Hooper in 2013. 

I decided to set up my business during university, the first year in fact, whilst I was 19 years old. That was the plan since I was a 17 year old sixth form student. I ran a young enterprise team whilst I was at Cardiff High School and acted as managing director, from then I knew that I could and would run a business. During my last year at sixth form I did a lot of research into the type of businesses that I could run, a business that would be scalable was what I wanted, what I mean by that is that growth wouldn't be a headache but instead it would be rather easy.  Safe to say I chose to run a business that, during the start, required a lot of my time and of course, sacrifices had to be made. I did things very different which is what most people who read this should take into account, I didn't move into halls which meant I had no distractions and it meant I could focus on myself at all times, I also grew up in Cardiff and had friends here.

When I set up The uTutor Company, which was my first tutoring brand, I was very naïve and didn't understand the amount of work that was needed. I was also setting up an education business with no education experience at all apart from tutoring here and there. I had someone design me a website, that at the time I thought was brilliant but soon the communication went dry between us and within four months I had a half completed site that cost me close to £1000. At the time this was my biggest setback but I now look back and think it was a blessing in disguise. I had to teach myself how to design websites and how to get my business seen on Google thus I sat down in my flat for a good 5-6 months getting the ground basics. Safe to say I did it and to date my tutoring group has three websites that have amazing presence online. I have also worked with many different people helping them with their websites and online strategy.

I also threw myself into the deep end and used to run around like a headless chicken going from meeting to meeting interviewing people for tutoring positions. When I look back at that time I knew this was all for the experience, and the most important experience was meeting people and learning how to communicate effectively, something which I would say I am good at now.  I do feel that the best way to develop skills for business is to do a lot of reflection and understand what you actually want. Sitting down and thinking about the day I just had is the way in which I make my best decisions. I did a lot of this during university as I found it quite stressful to juggle so many things but I never lost track of my vision. I would definitely recommend setting up a business during university but my greatest piece of advice is grow it slowly and make sure the business does work, also to remember that the theoretical side of a degree does really help in the long run when transitioning the knowledge into the 'real world'. University is one big bubble and sometimes unrealistic, being able to run a business can allow you to see the bigger picture.

Blog post by Kristian Harris, founder of The uTutor Company - ​
October 2015