BA Hotel Management student Alise Sita juggles the demands of an accelerated degree programme, that incorporates intensive work experience, with the running of her recently launched self-help business.

How it started…

I was drawn to study at Essex because of the unique opportunity of studying Hotel Management with in-built work experience at the on-site hotel. I have thoroughly enjoyed my course and have relished the chance to obtain so much professional experience, however the demands of an accelerated degree began to take their toll at the beginning of last year.

I had started to feel low and at the point of giving it all up and returning home. I felt out of control and wanted to bring back my focus. During some time away, I took the opportunity to engage in some self-care and restore some balance in my life. I used a planner to re-establish a routine and healthy rituals into my daily life. For me, this enhanced my outlook and sense of wellbeing, and started me on the path of helping others.

Initially, I used social media platforms to spread inspirational messages and inspire others to make positive changes to enhance their motivation and productivity. I realised there were many young women out there, similar to me, who were seeking the tools to achieve their goals and fulfil their potential. After gaining momentum and starting to build this online community, I set about designing a digital planner that I could share and generate revenue from. This was the was beginning of my start-up business, Planet Her.

How it’s going…

I am now at the stage where my business is operational, providing a small range of digital products including an annual planner, a meal planner and an e-book entitled How to Maximise Your Productivity. My focus is now on building my brand and raising the profile of the business.

I have been receiving mentoring from Essex Startups Entrepreneur in Residence Magdalena Mahdy, which has been invaluable in planning my next steps. She has enhanced my business knowledge and given me vital financial guidance. She has also helped me to reflect on the ways draw on the community I have developed on social media and consider the ways I can build on this foundation to progress my business further.

Setting up a website was a very new experience for me. I did my research to ensure the software was going to fulfil my requirements, taught myself how to technically build the website, and set about creating the relevant content to populate the pages. As someone who likes to plan ahead, this process has forced me to ‘learn on the job’ and deal with the challenges as they have arisen.

An implication I hadn’t initially taken into account was the tax on digital products, which was a consideration I had to make when creating my pricing structure. Going forward, as I look into the creation and sale of physical products, there will be logistical factors, such as storage and postage, that I will need account for.

What’s next…

In the New Year I will be going into the final stage of my studies (Level 6), which means my timetable won’t be taken up with quite so much placement experience and, therefore, shift work. This will result in a change to my daily routine, allowing me the opportunity to look at the possibility of expanding my business to incorporate an app to facilitates the coming together of product users to form a supportive and motivational community.

For some people, using a digital planner isn’t as effective as using a physical one. I have recently received samples of my products in a physical format, as I am considering expanding my product range to include a physical option.

I will continue to use Social Media channels to inspire others and help raise the profile of my business, but as the demands on my time change, I would also like to start blogging on a regular basis and include a newsletter into my service offering.

Words of wisdom…

Just go for it! Being brave and talking to different people can open up so many opportunities, as well as getting the perspective of others which can be hugely beneficial. You really have nothing to lose, and it could be great so give it a try.

Find out more

If you have a potential business idea, or are interested in developing your business skills, find out more about the training, events and support Essex Startups offers to current students and recent graduates.

evolve Accelerator Programme 2023

Applications for the evolve Accelerator Programme 2023 are now open. So, if you're an Essex entrepreneur looking to turn your side-hustle into a career, or have started a business but need help getting things off the ground, we’re looking for the 15 most ambitious and innovative ventures to work with.