It has been said that a career as a researcher is like being self-employed. You are responsible for the direction and success of your project and finding your next project. If you like this self-reliance, independence and you have a business idea, you might want to consider becoming self-employed.
Working for yourself, with no-one telling you what to do or when to do it, can be very liberating, but it is extremely hard work and involves risks. Do your research and weigh up all the pros and cons before taking this step.
First and foremost you need a business idea - not necessarily your own; a niche in someone else's market could also be ripe for exploitation.
You'll also need finance, if for nothing else than to pay your bills and running costs.
Other essentials are somewhere to operate from (although this could be your home), a business plan and framework, and as much advice as you can possibly get hold of (ideally free!).
You'll also need to possess certain characteristics to be a successful entrepreneur: realistic, self-confident, flexibility, forward-planning, good networking and communication skills (even while working on your own). These might sound familiar - they are part of the skill set common to researchers!
Useful links and resources
Here are some excellent sources of information and support for those thinking about taking the plunge and working for themselves.
AGCAS booklet giving a short introduction to the whys and wherefores of self-employment, including case studies.
Available online or from CAS
Informationand advice to help you start, run and grow a business. An excellent first port of call. There is a large amount of online information, or call 0845 600 9006 for information and advice over the phone.
- GWE Business West
Delivers Business Link services in this region. Join to receive a wide range of member benefits including access to networks and training. Local offices can be found by following this link
- National Council for Entrepreneurship in Education
- This organisation has articles, webinars and a mentoring scheme under its Make it Happen Programme to support students and graduates thinking of starting their own business.
- Shell LiveWire
A comprehensive website aimed at potential entrepreneurs aged 16-30. Register to receive a free 'essential business kit' tailored to your specific business idea, including contact details for a local co-ordinator
Simple, down-to-earth information on the regulatory side of setting up in business - what paperwork you need, and by when. You can also arrange a free workshop for practical advice on tax matters
Support available from the University
Bath Ventures may be able to offer help and support if your business idea relates to an aspect of your research. Contact one of the Technology Transfer Managers in the first instance.
The Researcher Development Unit runs courses on various aspects of enterprise, including online courses to help you assess your suitability for entrepreneurship.