University students who start small businesses as side hustles while studying can learn skills needed before they enter the workplace, according to the stakeholder and partner relations manager for financial services provider Fundi. Bulelwa Tutani said that for those that wanted to be entrepreneurs, opening a business also enabled them to learn how to manage their time well, and balance having businesses and careers simultaneously.
She said entrepreneurship was the driver of the economy, and it equipped students with skills that they may use in their businesses in the future, and skills they may also use to pursue their careers while running businesses on the side. “Entrepreneurship is a real prospect for students, and we see this gaining traction in that many of the customers we assist with loans want to supplement their income while others want real-life skills before stepping into the corporate world,” she told Vutivi News.
“Having these businesses opens up opportunities for them to get real-life experience.” Tutani also noted that running a business as a student increased their understanding of how important education was, even for a businessperson. “A student entrepreneur understands that if they have an educational background, it assists them in growing their businesses,” she said. “They focus on their studies and use what they learn in their courses in their businesses.
“Areas of business skills such as marketing, logistics and sales are gained from, and are strongly enhanced by an educational background.” Another benefit was that these businesses supplemented household incomes, enabling students to support their university lifestyle and cover common costs. “The profits from a side hustle as a university student will assist the student to be able to take care of their financial burdens, supplement their parents’ income and assist with covering expenses like food, groceries, and access to the internet,” she said.
But Tutani did warn that there were some pitfalls to side hustles while studying. “One of the biggest challenges student entrepreneurs face is that they have to split their time,” she told Vutivi News. “Entrepreneurs allocate all of their resources and time to running their businesses, but a student entrepreneur must ensure that they allocate enough time to their business and also ensure that their business functions properly while focusing on their studies.”
Tutani said students must prioritise their studies and not overexert themselves. She also recommended that students open businesses that were not capital intensive, as obtaining funding for a small business was already difficult without adding the financial burden of university tuition fees. Fundi specialises in education finance and fund management.