Enterprise & self-employment

Your time at university is a great opportunity to develop your enterprising skills which will help you to stand out from the crowd in the graduate jobs market. You may even decide to set up your own business and become self-employed whilst at University or pursue this option once you graduate.


Employers value candidates with enterprising skills; which may include:

  • Creativity and innovation
  • Problem solving and decision making
  • Communication and networking
  • Initiative and proactivity
  • Time management and organisation
  • Negotiation and persuasiveness
  • Commercial awareness and business acumen

Your time at university is a great opportunity to develop enterprising skills which will help you to stand out from the crowd in the graduate jobs market.

Enterprise is not just related to running a business.

Being enterprising is about identifying an opportunity and making the most of it. This could be by identifying a need for a product or service and working to bring them to market or it could be through identifying an opportunity to try something new, improve an existing process or increase results.

For example, if you identified a need for a particular society at the University and worked to establish that society, promote it to other interested people and run it successfully, that is enterprising behaviour. Or perhaps you have come up with a new and innovative way of raising money for charity, that is also enterprising behaviour.


You may want to consider becoming self-employed whist you are at University or when you graduate.

This could be through starting your own business or working freelance.

If you choose to become self-employed there are lots of things that you may need to consider including registering as self-employed, paying tax and making national insurance contributions.

International students and self-employment

If you are an international student from outside the European Economic Area and here in the UK on a Tier 4 or Student Visa you are not permitted to set up in business or to be self-employed.

If you wish to start a business or be self-employed in the UK when you graduate you will need to apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa.

For more information and advice contact the Lancaster University International Student Advisory Service.

Information and support

There are lots of resources to help you develop your enterprising skills or become self-employed.

Information and support from Lancaster University

Careers workshops- including workshops such as ‘Insight into Enterprise & Employability’ and ‘Focus on Negotiation’.

Lancaster University Enterprise Centre- support for entrepreneurs and new enterprise.

Students' Union- Information about starting a business whilst at University.

Student Enterprise Societies- including the Business and Sustainable Development society, ENACTUS society and the Entrepreneurs society.

FLUX - the largest student business competition in the country, organised and hosted by Lancaster University.

The Lancaster Award- The activities that you are undertaking to develop your enterprising skills or self-employment could help you to achieve the Lancaster Award.

Information and support from external sites

Business start-up

HMRC, Starting your own Business- an e-learning course concerning tax, National Insurance, business records etc.

Direct Gov. Start your own business - information from the government website.

The Start Up Donut- advice, tools and resources for starting a business.

Startups- independent, online resource for anyone starting and growing a business.

Companies House- information about starting a business as well as being the place to register your business and submit annual tax returns.

Business is Great- HM Government  support, advice and inspiration for growing your business.

Business support

Lancaster City Council- business support and financial assistance is available in the Lancaster district.

Lancaster and District Chamber of Commerce- not for profit organisation supporting businesses in Lancaster and the surrounding area.

Enterprise Lancashire- an independent, non-governmental and not for profit organisation supporting businesses throughout Lancashire.


Prospects- information and advice about becoming self-employed.

HMRC- Register as self-employed and find information on what your obligations are as a self-employed person.


Freelance Advisor- news, advice, guides and information for the freelancing community.


Bright Network- advice and support for budding entrepreneurs.

TED Talks- A selection of talks on the topic of entrepreneurialism.


Brightside, start-up loans - access to funding, support and a business mentor.

National Organisations

The National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs (NACUE)- a nationwide network of student societies taking positive action to create an enterprising generation.

ENACTUS- A community of student, academic and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better more sustainable world.


Global Entrepreneurship Week- the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare.


HMRC webinars- A range of topics covering different elements of self employment.

British Library webinars- Business information, Social Media for businesses and Intellectual Property webinars.


Startup Jobs- job listings and career advice website for people interested in working in UK startups.