Students at Enterprise Showcase

Getting started

Find out how to register your business  and what steps you need to take before you start trading

Once you've got your business idea and you're ready to set up we can support you at one of our enterprise clinics. You can get started outside of these sessions. These guides and tips can help you prepare your company, from finding out more about your clients to registering your company and legally protecting your ideas. 

Getting started

Find out how to get started and read some tips for running your business:

  • Student Startup Guide 2020 - A student's guide to starting a business in 2020.
  • Digital business academy — Join over 20,000 entrepreneurs gaining the skills to start, grow or join a digital business.
  • Company Bug — Small business advice covering a wide range of topics, with specific advice for starting a business while you study.
  • Start Your Own Business in Portsmouth — Free resources and information to help get your new venture off the ground. Highlights local Portsmouth organisations who offer friendly business advice and services you need. 
  • The Start-up Series (Enterprise Nation) — Videos covering tips from inspiring entrepreneurs.
  • Entrepreneur Handbook — Advice and guides on starting and growing a business for UK entrepreneurs.
  • Santander online resources — A range of online resources from Santander Universities.
  • 5 Podcasts Every Student Entrepreneur Needs to Listen To — A blog post by Alex Harvey of the Student Food Project on who to listen to if you're starting a business.
  • When to jump — A podcast of unscripted conversations with everyday people and public figures speaking about leaving something comfortable to chase their dreams.
  • Startup Kit 2020 — A for anyone considering or starting a business. You may have been thinking about how you can make a living from a particular passion, hobby
    or skill. Perhaps you’re working a day job and already making sales on the side – now you want to take it to the next level. Maybe you haven’t hit upon the right idea yet; you just know in your heart that you want to be your own boss. 


Market research 

Once you've got an idea you need to check if there's demand for your product or services before you start your business. Take the time to talk to your potential customers (not just your friends and family), do some mystery shopping on your competitors, and research the number of customers and your price point and the industry in general. Don’t forget to ask opinions on your business name and the logo too.

You can source firsthand data by conducting a survey or posing questions on social media. SurveyMonkey is a great tool for gathering data online through surveys and getting  know your customers. There are also resources available from the Prince’s Trust on how to do market research and analyse your results. 

Business planning

A business plan can help you clarify your goals, identify and resolve potential issues, explore what resources you’ll need and evaluate the viability of your idea before you get started. Your business type will decide what you need to include in your business plan.

Elevator Pitches

Knowing how to sell yourself and your business idea in a very short window of time could be crucial to success. Use the resources below to help you create an effective 'elevator pitch'.

Company registration

You need to choose a business structure before you can register your business. This could be:

  • Sole Trader/Self-Employed
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Public Liability Company
  • Partnership
  • Social Enterprise
  • Community Interest Company
  • Charity

Registering your business

Different structures will require different registration processes so you should research what your business needs before you get started. Don’t jump into registration until you are ready to trade and clear about what organisation you plan to be. You can register in 10 minutes if you know what you’re doing, and seek professional advice from an accountant, solicitor or business registration agent if you aren't sure. 

Explore these resources for more information about registering your business:

Intellectual property, patents and copyright

You might feel like you need to protect your ideas and logos straight away, but this may not be true. The rules on copyright, patents, registered trademarks and alike are complicated and can be difficult to read, but you should do as much research as you can before reaching out to a costly patent lawyer or consultant. It seems easy enough to protect your idea in principle, but the laws governing the level of protection, the speed at which it can be implemented, and whether the protection is worldwide or merely local often make this a non-viable option for small businesses.

You should also remember that your idea probably isn't unique. There are 7 billion people on the planet and some of the most successful products have come about through incremental changes.

Advice on intellectual property

Get expert advice on your intellectual property requirements. Book a telephone appointment with an expert from Maucher Jenkins by speaking to a member of the Student StartUp team or emailing

Resources to help you understand and use intellectual property: 

MVPs and Prototyping

Creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) can be a quick way to show proof of concept and bring people on board. Creating a prototype can help make your idea come alive, it doesn't need to be perfect, a rough prototype with just enough features to be useable will make explaining your business/product/service concept easier.

Use these tools to get your app creation underway:

  • — A rapid development, integration and deployment platform for delivering cross-device apps in the enterprise. Create and run apps that help businesses of all sizes.
  • for apps — Create fully-interactive high-fidelity prototypes in minutes that look and work exactly like your app should.
  • App development cost calculators — it may be more than you think, get a good estimate using these calculators: 

Use these tools to get your prototype started:

  • SOLIDWORKS® Entrepreneur Program — For early-stage hardware startups, this program offers software, training, and co-marketing resources at no cost. 
  • Innovate Design — Helping UK inventors with topics like Patent Protection, Product Development and Prototyping. Innovate can review your idea and suggest the best way to proceed, free of charge.


A freelancer (also known as a consultant, sole trader, contractor or self-employed) is someone that sells their skills, services or products to people, organisations or businesses rather than work for a regular salary from one employer.

You can set your freelancing business up as you and trade under your name, or create a ‘company name’. Company names are useful because you will often be competing against other freelancers and businesses to sell your skills, services or products.

Learn more about freelancing: 


Get your freelance business started with these guides: 

Find freelance opportunities when you first start out can be a challenge. Get started here: 

Social enterprises

Social enterprises are businesses striving to have a positive impact. These companies often reinvest or donate their profits to make support positive social change.

There are plenty of resources specific to this kind of startup including Social Enterprise UK and Setting up a Social Enterprise - GOV.UK. Companies like The Partnership Foundation Fund offer one-off grants for social enterprises, voluntary and community organisations to help them grow, adapt to change, or merge. 

About your industry

A lot of the information you need when you create a new business is quite generic, especially when you create your value proposition. You should research your industry as you develop so that you can tailor your services accordingly. Understanding your own sector and keeping up to date with the latest news also helps you to foresee potential problems before they arise. 

  • Sector Donuts — Expert guidance on how to start up and run a business in more than 200 industries from catering to construction.
  • Enterprise Nation - A range of bitesize guides, e-learning courses, events and more.

Your next steps