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Self-employment and enterprise

Self-employment explained.

Being self-employed can offer a more flexible way to live your life because it often allows you the opportunity to think creatively, use your initiative and shape your own future. However, working for yourself is also risky, time-consuming and can feel insecure.

You will develop many of the skills required to be self-employed during your time at the University of Bradford such as networkingcommunication and commercial awareness. These skills have to be combined with your own qualities of drive, motivation and personal commitment. 

Career and Employability Services can help you to:

  • gain an understanding of what it means to be self employed and whether this is right for you
  • explore the basics of business start-up 
  • develop an action plan to help you prepare for the next steps

Book a careers appointment  with us to discuss your plans.

The Bradford Entrepreneur Programme

There are two programmes at the University of Bradford to develop your entrepreneurial skills, the Accelerated Student Entrepreneurship Programme for current students and the Start-up Entrepreneur and Visa Programme for graduates.

The Innovative Entrepreneurs Programme

The Innovative Entrepreneurs Programme is a unique opportunity for budding entreprenuers from across West Yorkshire to learn how to build innovative, investable, and sustainable businesses. This comprehensive programme aims to provide the support, guidance and means for you to transform ideas into high impact, profitable businesses which can create positive impact within the region and beyond. Please find further details and eligibility criteria below:

The nine-month programme will support you with:

  • Idea development
  • Growth plan to take the business to next level
  • Personal brand development
  • Entrepreneurial skill-set
  • Investors outreach
  • Networking for support within the region and beyond

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Individuals aged 18+ or teams of up to five members, who are at pre-startup or early stage startup level
  • Commitment to the nine month of programme
  • Ideas have to be innovative (introducing a solution to new problem or new approach to solve an existing problem)
  • Passionate individuals to create a positive impact on the society

For more details and to register, please take a look at the website or connect wiht the programme team at 

Entrepreneurs in Bradford - watch the video

This video includes interviews with eight local entrepreneurs. They discuss how they founded their own businesses and why young people should consider entrepreneurship:

Further support

Enterprise Coaching is available through the Build Your Business project from Inspired Neighbourhoods to any budding entrepreneurs with a Bradford address; or to existing businesses.

We can help with:

  • Tailored one to one coaching to shape the business model that works for you
  • Help with testing your ideas and understanding the markets
  • Signposting to other support where more is needed
  • Networking opportunities to meet other like-minded entrepreneurs
  • Help with finding investment
  • Budget Management
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing and Promotion
  • Social Media
  • Presentation skills
  • ... & more!

See the flyer for more information.

To arrange a zoom or phone call, please contact one of the following:

Ashfaq Gulab Bradford Moor

Mohammad Ayub Barkerend

Samia Ashraf Bowling

Mike Whitehouse Tong & Holme Wood

Commonly used phrases 

There are lots of phrases used to describe ‘working for yourself’ and this terminology can become confusing, so here is our quick guide to the most commonly used terms:

  • Entrepreneur: The common perception of an entrepreneur is someone who is dynamic and ambitious, sees opportunities, takes a risk and turns their ideas into new business opportunities. 
  • Franchisee: Someone who has bought a branch of a business which is owned by one, central master company e.g. McDonald's Restaurants franchises.
  • Freelancer: Often working independently with their own clients, usually on more than one project at once and possibly for several organisations.
  • Portfolio career: Common in the creative industries and usually involves combining work in more than one career area. Often portfolio careers merge a role that is hard to sustain financially (such as acting) with a role that provides a regular income (e.g. office work).
  • Self-employed: Working for yourself rather than being a salaried employee for an organisation.
  • Social enterprises: A business which trades for social and environmental purposes. Social enterprises are distinctive because their social and environmental purpose is absolutely central to what they do - their profits are reinvested to sustain and develop their mission for positive change, e.g. Divine Chocolate.

Further information


In 2017, 4.9% of employed graduates across the UK were self-employed, with a lower average of 3.5% in the Yorkshire and Humber region (for more details, look at the HESA What Do Graduates Do? report). In the UK around 4.8 million people, approximately 15% of the working population are self-employed. For more statistics on self-employment see the Office of National Statistics.

Useful websites 

  • Invest in Bradford Support 
  • GOV.UK Plenty of practical advice on starting up and developing your business, including advice webinars and videos.
  • Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership offers support and guidance for SMEs.
  • Prospects Learn about the initial stages of self-employment: from developing your business idea to creating a business plan, working out start-up costs, managing cashflow and promoting your business. Find out if you've got what it takes to be an entrepreneur or freelancer.
  • Shell LiveWIRE The UK’s biggest online community for entrepreneurs aged 16–30. The website is full of useful links and information that will help you start up in business, design business plans etc. To access some of the facilities you will have to register for a free account.
  • Strive / Be the Business mentoring and advice for Black and Asian business leaders.