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Self-employment and enterprise

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

Email usbook a careers appointment or come and see us in Student Central 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.

Further support

Enterprise Coaching is available from Inspired Neighbourhoods to any budding entrepreneurs with a Bradford address; or to existing businesses.

Help with:

  • feasibility and starting up
  • business plans
  • finance - information on grants and loan investment
  • employing people

See the flyer for more information.

Please contact Paula Denison via email to arrange a zoom or phone call.

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:

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.