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Graduates, is it time to set up your own business?

A young graduate considering which direction to take their career

It's easy to assume that getting onto a graduate scheme or taking a year out to find yourself (preferably on a beach in Koh Phi Phi...) are the only options available once you've graduated. It's likely you've probably spent the last few months considering similar options. 

But have you ever considered starting your own business? 

Last year, the combined annual turnover of SMEs was £1.8 trillion, which accounted for 47% of all private sector turnover in the UK. With this figure growing year on year there's never been a better time for graduates to set up their own business – and our Ingenuity Lab is here to help you get started. With a range of support available for recent graduates including advice and expert mentoring, pr and marketing expertise, and business development opportunities (including the popular Ingenuity competition), our Ingenuity Lab will help you turn your ideas into reality. 

We spoke to some of our alumni members of the Ingenuity Lab to show you why setting up your own business is such a fantastic idea!

The challenge of learning new skills 

"I don't consider myself a specialist in any particular area, but I've always felt I was pretty good at learning new skills. Running my own business means I can go from being an author to an accountant before lunch on any given day. I always knew I'd enjoy that challenge more than being a small part of a big organisation. 

The Ingenuity16 competition was my first real introduction to the support the University provides for alumni, and the prize money we won there has completely changed the business. The Ingenuity Lab is a great space for meeting other entrepreneurs from Nottingham at different stages with their business. Being part of that community is invaluable when you're taking on such a challenge. 

You're always going to understand your business better than anybody else. Good mentors respect that and ask you difficult questions that help you come to new conclusions. Bad mentors just talk instead of listening and have a nasty tendency of leaving you demoralised and confused. Find a couple of the good ones and make the most of them – they can work wonders for your business in five minutes flat.

Jonny Pryn (English, 2014), Director of One Third Stories


Use your passion

I am passionate about gender culture, international business and entrepreneurship. I worked for many companies while I was a student and gained an understanding of the industry, as well as myself. So after my graduation, it felt like the right time to start out on my own. 

I came to the University as an international student and since then I've worked closely with the Ingenuity Lab and the International Office. The whole process is made simple by the support from all the staff – they're always on hand to talk about my ideas, discuss how we can make things happen and have regular check-up meetings to make sure everything is on track. 

As a startup company, we have limited resources to achieve our vision and have to find innovative ways to secure success. The Careers and Employability Service have helped by providing us with placement students, which allows us to grow faster and better. Starting your own business is a difficult task, and I don't think you can achieve your ambitions without passion. So make sure you have a passion for what you want to do!

Lili Zhu (Film and Television Studies, 2015), Director of Lian Ltd 


Access support

I've always wanted to start a business, and after some market research I found out there was a gap in the market. I find out about the Ingenuity Lab and knew I wanted to take this opportunity. As cliche as it sounds, I was in the right place at the right time and given a chance to do something I was passionate about.  

The University and the Ingenuity Lab provided me with the guidance, mentoring and support I needed to pursue Nutri2Go. Being part of the alumni network helps greatly, as I can still be part of the University community, access support and meet new people I have a shared interest with. As my business is currently focused on the University and its staff, it's so important that I'm integrated into this community. 

Jordana Chin (Nutrition, 2015), Director of Nutri2Go



Join the Ingenuity Lab

If you would like to find out more about joining The Ingenuity Lab and accessing the facilities, support and inspiration available to our members, please email us at or register your details with us


Alumni Relations

Portland Building
The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 823 2408
fax: +44 (0)115 951 3937