Pre-start and Business Ideas2021-09-24T09:31:37+01:00

Pre-start and business ideas

If you have a business idea but are unsure whether it will work, or if you are still in the preparation phases, the services below are ideal for you.

a mentor smiling during class discussion

Propeller Enterprise Programme

The Propeller Enterprise Programme is a set of four workshops designed to help you check the viability of your idea, write a business plan and start trading.

social media for business workshop in the propeller hub

Side Hustle Series

Our side hustle series are shorter workshops that focus on one topic. These topics are chosen by you, through our feedback forms and are likely to change on a regular basis. Suitable for both pre-start and post-start businesses.

a man in a white shirt with a red lanyard points at a screen. 3 students look on.


Flightpath is our online course for freelancers. It helps to tackle a lot of common problems for new freelancers and allows you to develop your skills through a range of activities, templates and additional resources.

We also offer 12 hours of 1-1 guidance sessions with our business mentors

For those who are U Start eligible, this also includes access to our external mentors.

Available to current students, staff and recent graduates (up to 3 years after graduation).

Frequently asked questions

How long does it take to start a business?2021-06-23T14:24:59+01:00

We understand it can be useful to have a guideline for how long it takes to start a business, but it varies from person to person. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years.

In the past 5 years, we’ve seen a trend in Propeller members, meaning that each year they are taking less time to start a business. Whereas this was once 4 years, the typical member registered now (2020-21) we would expect 50% to work on their business for 12-18 months. Of course, there are those that will take less time, and those that will take more.

Some things that might effect your own timeline are understanding of the sector you’re moving into, length of time for paperwork to be processed, qualifications or assessments needed, time needed to bridge any skills gaps, and other lifestyle commitments.

What’s the difference between freelancing, owning a business and self-employment?2021-06-17T11:48:20+01:00

What’s the difference between freelancing, owning a business and self-employment?

Self-employment means working for yourself, rather than being employed by a company or other person. If you’re self-employed, you have to submit your own tax returns and don’t automatically receive benefits such as sick pay or maternity pay. Owning a business and freelancing are both types of self-employment.


If you work ad-hoc for other people or companies then you are probably a freelancer. For instance, if an accountant needs a website but does not need to employ a permanent web-designer, then they may choose to hire a freelancer for a set project. As a freelancer, you will typically be known as a ‘sole-trader’. Our platform Flightpath is designed for freelancers, so if this option is for you, give it a go.

Owning a Business

Owning a business is different, as it typically involves hiring other people or working with co-owners. You could set up a LTD company, incorporation, community interest group or be a sole-trader. For more information about different business types, it’s best to attend our workshop Structuring Your Business. You can also ask a mentor.

What is the difference between Propeller and the Careers service?2020-09-28T09:36:42+01:00

What is the difference between Propeller and the Careers service?

The UCLan Careers service offers advice and support surrounding employability and career paths. On CareersEDGE, they have many resources to understand your skill set, as well as advertising job opportunities with businesses. They also help UCLan students and graduates to write CV’s, prepare for interview, understand industries, and much more.

Typically, if you need self-employment support, that is when you come to Propeller.  We can help you draw up a business plan, start freelancing, set up a business, work on finance and practice pitching.

For more information about what we offer, come to a drop-in session. See our ‘What’s On‘ page for details.

Do I have to pay anything?2020-07-20T11:32:49+01:00

Do I have to pay anything?

Propeller offers free business support to students and alumni of UCLan. This includes all of our workshops, 1-1 mentor advice, networking events and online professional development.

Renting a desk or hot-desking from the Propeller Hub can incur a charge; however, hot-desking is free for current students.

We are able to offer our services for free as part of UCLan and also because we receive partial funding from the ERDF U Start Programme.

How can you help me if I already work for myself?2020-09-28T09:38:16+01:00

How can you help me if I already work for myself?

Our mentors can offer you 1-1 advice to help you grow your business, as well as help with tax returns. We also have external mentors that can help you in specialised areas. If you are weak in some skill areas, our workshops can help you level up, too. We can also offer you a place to work from in the Propeller Hub, secure work through UCLan Talent and connect you with other business support.

How is this relevant to my course?2020-09-28T09:50:59+01:00

How is this relevant to my course?

Some courses lead to career paths with a lot of self-employment, such as dance, journalism or web design. We work alongside many of these courses already, but Propeller is always there for extra support.

Enterprise skills are also sought after in traditional employment, too. If you intend to manage projects, work with customers or rule over a department, these skills can set you apart. So what are enterprise skills? Most people agree that the main skills include identifying opportunities, understanding customer needs and writing business plans. On top of that, there is a lot of overlap with general leadership skills.

Even if your course is not business-related, you can still benefit from learning enterprise skills.

What if I don’t want to start a business?2020-07-20T11:31:15+01:00

What if I don’t want to start a business?

Then you don’t have to! You can still come to our workshops and networking events, even if you don’t want to run a business. We think it’s important to know how businesses work and these skills can be applied in many different ways.

How can I balance working for myself with my studies and social life?2020-07-20T11:30:48+01:00

How can I balance working for myself with my studies and social life?

If you’re a student, studies should be your primary focus whilst at university. We would never recommend spending more time on your business than your course, but your flexible schedule provides an advantage. If you’re looking to work when it suits you, rather than in shifts, then freelancing can be the right kind of work for you. You can also take breaks for exams, carry on when you return home and continue after graduation. At the end of the day, the amount of time you spend working for yourself is up to you. If you’re interested in freelancing, you can find out more on Flightpath.

Can I start a business on a student visa?2020-07-20T11:30:08+01:00

Can I start a business on a student visa?

If you are from outside Europe, no. If you are studying on a tier 4 visa, you can not work self-employed.

EU citizens do not currently need special permission to start a business in the UK. Those who have acceded the EU however (such as Bulgaria and Romania) may have to apply for permission, unless you qualify for exemption.

Can any student access your service?2020-09-28T10:02:17+01:00

Can any student access your service?

We support students from all courses, at any level of study. Propeller is an extra-curricular support service, so if you’re working for yourself or want to start a business, it doesn’t have to be related to your course.

Can I use the Propeller Hub?2020-09-28T10:00:34+01:00

Can I use the Propeller Hub?

The Propeller Hub is usually open to students, alumni and external businesses for a charge.

Some businesses have returned post-lockdown, but we are still operating at a limited capacity. To find out about rates, send us an email and we can give you a bit more information.

Is any funding available?2020-09-28T09:55:43+01:00

Is any funding available?

We usually run the Propeller Enterprise Award twice a year for current students and recent graduates (graduated in the last 12 months). This gives each winning project up to £1,000 to work on their start-up.

Throughout the year we also keep you up-to-date with external funding opportunities and can help you apply for these.

Our business mentors can also help you identify appropriate sources of funding, too. Contact us today if you would like to find out about funding

How do I register?2020-09-28T09:53:04+01:00

How do I register?

You can book onto workshops online, or request a 1-1 through email. The first time we see you, we’ll give you a form to fill in.

Who is eligible to use the service?2020-07-20T11:22:47+01:00

Who is eligible to use the service?

We primarily serve students, staff members and alumni of UCLan. If you are a business, you can still access our support if you’re a member of the Centre for SME Development. If you are uncertain if this applies to you, please contact us.

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