When you think of becoming involved in business as a graduate, the first idea that comes to mind is joining an existing business at a low level and working your way up to the top.
This is certainly a proven method of getting your feet on the ladder and gaining some priceless experience, but it is far from the only way to become involved in business.
By its very nature, the business landscape is crammed full of opportunities, from joining an apprenticeship scheme to becoming a skilled freelancer who rents out their skills to companies.
On top of this, if you feel you are ready to make an impact, you could start your own business, either to pursue a burning passion or to bring your innovative new products to market.
Regardless of the route you take, getting involved in business requires you to possess at least one highly valuable skill in the right industry.
Indeed, every business is built on the skills of a wide range of people – and business owners themselves possess a unique set of talents that are not necessarily applicable to other enterprises.
For example, if you are a skilled accountant, you could form your own accountancy firm based on your specific skills, values, and vision.
Alternatively, you could offer your services as a consultant or contract-based accountant.
The trick with being successful in any business role is noticing a gap in the market that you – and only you – can fill. Finding your specific niche is key to carving a fruitful business career, even as a graduate.
These are the best ways of getting involved with a business as a graduate:
You can start by becoming accredited in a business-friendly section of accountancy
If you want to get involved in business as a graduate, you first need to become qualified in a relevant area.
This will help you to narrow down your options and become market-leading in at least one profession. Of course, obtaining a business degree doesn’t automatically make you a potential world-class entrepreneur, and it might actually be worth taking a more specialized course to pursue a greater number of opportunities in a single market.
For example, you could opt for an online MBA degree Accounting Principles. By becoming an accomplished accountant, you will have a bankable skill in your back pocket, which is highly sought after in business.
By becoming specialized like this, you can focus on outperforming the other accountants and accountancy firms in your market, rather than trying to beat every entrepreneur you can find. This will make your success easier to track and give you a far greater chance of making an impact – which gets you noticed.
Furthermore, by taking an online MBA, you can complete the course in your free time. This means you could combine your studies with a job that helps you learn a variety of other business skills. It doesn’t matter whether this role is in sales, marketing, or any other industry, as long as it teaches you valuable skills that you can implement in business further up the road.
This will fast-track your learning and help you gain a formidable range of experience in a relatively short period. In addition, by combining your specialization with experience in other business areas, you will stand out to potential employers or help you run your own company more successfully.
Make yourself useful to a business by becoming an expert in your field
Continuing with this theme of specialization, you don’t just make your resume look more impressive by majoring in one area. You make yourself more useful to other businesses looking to hire a specialist.
This is because, while graduates with more generalized experience and qualifications will still find jobs, business owners aren’t looking for people who can do a variety of jobs moderately well. Instead, they are searching for a market-leading specialist who will transform a single area of their organization.
Every entrepreneur dreams of having one great accountant, one great lawyer, a genius marketer, or a top salesperson. This is because the entrepreneur will likely know little about these specialized areas themselves, which puts a lot of value on a trusted expert who is willing to bat for their team.
Making yourself useful like this will transform your chances of getting involved in business. After all, the most successful business people on the planet aren’t jacks-of-all-trades; they are specialists who have risen to the top of their respective trees.
The simplest way of becoming involved in a business is to start one
Of course, if you are desperate to make an immediate impact in business, then you could always start your own business straight out the gate.
The world is full of examples of graduates (or drop-outs) who started their own companies when they were just fresh out of college. Corporations like Facebook and Microsoft are prime examples of firms that were formed by headstrong young people looking to make a change in the world, and there is no reason why you can’t aim to do the same.
Of course, you should only start your own company if you have a burning desire to bring a particular product or service to market. Unfortunately, many people dream of being entrepreneurs for the adulation of calling themselves business owners, which is a bad goal to aim for.
Starting a business at any stage of life is one of the hardest tasks you can set yourself, but as a graduate, it will require extremely hard work, world-beating ideas, and significant funding to pull off successfully. Therefore, be sure about your aims, and reflect on whether becoming an entrepreneur straight away is the right decision for you.
Think of a product you would love to see in the world, then make it happen
If becoming an entrepreneur is your ultimate aim, it is best to think long and hard about what ideas you hope to bring to fruition. The true rewards in business can be found in creating change in the world, one product at a time. No one wants to get involved in a business to copy everyone else; the aim is to try something new and venture into uncharted territory.
Therefore, start thinking about the sort of change you want to make in the world. This isn’t to say you need to shoot for huge, unrealistic goals – such as becoming a billionaire or solving a global issue single handedly – but rather imagine the products or services you wish were available but aren’t.
Perhaps you are someone who prides themselves on fantastic people skills. You might want to focus your attention on starting a media company or founding a business that revolves around services, such as a hotel or restaurant. This is only one example, but it demonstrates where your head should be if you want to get involved in the business as a graduate.
Notice the gaps in a business’s team and fill them
A useful technique for finding a way into business as a graduate is to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and spot job opportunities within the businesses you want to work for.
For example, you may notice that a certain market is struggling to monetize its services online. Therefore, you could take this as a sign that they haven’t got the right digital marketer within their teams to attract customers or position their brands in the market correctly.
To fill this gap, you could learn the necessary digital marketing skills (such as copywriting and SEO-marketing) and provide this service as a freelancer. By doing this, you will build a wide network of business owners with who you can work alongside and build a relationship.
This is gold dust if you are just starting out as a graduate because you might have all the qualifications in the world, but you have nowhere to implement your skills without a solid network. Spotting gaps doesn’t require you to learn new skills – you might already be trained in the area that is in demand, so it is not necessarily a lot of added work.
You could become a consultant
Alternatively, if you have a particular skill or talent, then you could become a consultant for companies looking for professional guidance in a particular area.
This is an increasingly lucrative role to fulfill within businesses because you are there simply to advise rather than complete physical work per se, but as long as your advice is valuable, you can command a healthy salary.
This is easier said than done, of course, especially as a graduate. Consultants are usually ultra-experienced individuals who have stepped back from day-to-day work, so this may not be realistic unless you have an in-demand skill.
Of course, given the rapidly changing commercial landscape, you may be able to use your lack of experience as a bonus rather than a drawback. This is because many experienced entrepreneurs will be set in their ways, convinced that their methodologies are correct and the only route to success.
Given that the business world is quickly changing (with the growth of e-commerce business models and blockchain technologies leading the charge), these more traditional methods of doing business may soon be out of date.
If you are more well-versed in these emerging markets and technologies, then you could offer valuable guidance.
After all, one of the core reasons why consultancy is so useful is because it offers a business leader a different opinion. Once you have reached a certain level in a company, people will be afraid to tell the boss that they are wrong or consider a matter from a different perspective.
This is where you could make a name for yourself as a graduate, offering an alternative perspective and gaining respect and recognition as a result.
Start at the bottom and work your way to the top
Just because there are more glamorous methods for getting involved in a business as a graduate doesn’t mean that the most common of all isn’t worth discussing. Of course, finding any job is difficult, especially given the tumultuous state of the global jobs market, but it is certainly less labor-intensive and complex than trying to start your own business or developing additional skills as a freelancer or consultant.
Indeed, there is a lot to be said for starting lower down on the commercial ladder. While you might have to wait longer for a significant pay rise or promotion to the higher echelons of an organization, you could argue that the security of a paying job will help you rise faster in your career than starting out on your own.
Furthermore, you are likely to learn a tremendous amount because you will be out of the limelight and therefore able to settle into a company at a more sedate pace. This will help you to relax and gather initial work and life experience without the pressure to find customers or deliver a business-saving service to an entrepreneur.
If you start in a small business, you will also find that there aren’t many rungs on the ladder you need to climb to reach a position of influence, and you will be better able to handle the promotions when they come gradually, rather than all at once.
Finally, by starting at the bottom, you will be so much more appreciative of the opportunity once you reach the top. There are countless stories of CEOs who started out as janitors, which is a reason for that. They knew they had to fight for every promotion, and it helped them develop a stronger, more stoic character as a result.
Question why you want to get involved in business in the first place
While there are some compelling reasons you would want to get involved in business – whether it be to start your own or be a part of an organization that has always inspired you – it is important to recognize whether you are doing it for the right reasons.
With celebrity entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Donald Trump, and Richard Branson constantly in the news and referenced in popular culture, it can be tempting to believe that this lifestyle is right for you or the only route you can take to find fame and fortune.
Unfortunately, entering business simply because everyone else is doing it or because you want to become rich overnight are not strong enough reasons to do it.
The high-level business world is tough and reserved only for those who have a strong enough motivation to change the commercial landscape for the better, not those after a get-rich-quick scheme.