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5 tips for international students wanting to start their own small business in Australia after graduation

By Jinhee 03 Oct 2019
Man sitting at a computer

Small business accounts for close to 44 per cent of employment across Australia’s economy. USQ international Bachelor of Business alumnus Jinhee shares his tips on starting a small business after graduation.

Tip 1: Start small

I never knew what a ‘start-up’ was before studying at USQ. However, after I met a few friends and lecturers who told me about the concept, I researched the topic and developed an interest in running my own start-up business.

Part of my personality is that I enjoy challenging myself and I just knew that I wanted to take a different pathway from the majority of university graduates. This motivated me to prepare and pursue my start-up journey.

As an international student, there are many restrictions or difficulties to consider when trying to launch your own start-up. However, it is possible to start a small business using a simple format and on a very small scale. For example, in the beginning, you might start selling physical goods items, or any type of services or skills that you’re good at. For example, starting on a small scale means you don’t need to lease property until you’re ready to. Also, with the development of the internet and social media, it’s easy to set up and build a business through free, online platforms like Facebook or Amazon.

Tip 2: Define your goals for starting a small business

When it comes to deciding what your small business idea should be, observe any inconveniences in your daily life and consider why people (or yourself) keep bearing that inconvenience. Trying to solve life’s inconveniences can often lead to great start-up small business ideas.

Once you’ve identified your business idea, maintain your focus and make sure your offerings keep solving the problems that got you started in the first place. Having a clear understanding of what your business purpose is, and how it aligns to your own values, enables you to remain connected to your business goals during the early days, too.

For example, with the start of HappyToo, I noticed that there are so many Toowoomba people struggling with the inconvenience of getting groceries or food from shops and restaurants.

Part of my personal ethos is to be happy, and I also love making other people feel happy. Even though I’m not Australian-born, I wanted to make this community a better place to live and I thought people can be happy by eating great food anywhere they want.

The name ‘HappyToo' originated from how local people use the expression, ’I’m happy to help you’. As a customer hearing this, you get a positive, supported, warm feeling. So, I chose HappyToo as a business name! My team and I pride ourselves on helping our customers, service partners and each other to be happy! My long-term goal is for HappyToo to become a nationwide service. 

Having a clear understanding of what your business purpose is, and how it aligns to your own values, enables you to remain connected to your business goals.

Tip 3: Use what’s available to you

In my final year of study, I attempted multiple small business start-ups, all in different fields, using only what I had available to me: my university skills, my personality and my time. The internet and social media have also helped me further develop and promote my small business. Often, people get caught up on not having enough money to get started; but if you are able to utilise what you have available, such as time and passion, then business success is just a matter of giving it a go.

Tip 4: Make new contacts 

It’s a really good idea to make new connections that can help you develop your small business. One way to do this is by getting involved in the USQ Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program. Another way you can make these important connections is to think seriously about joining the USQ Startup Club. These opportunities give you the chance to make friends, to share your ideas and enthusiasm for your start-up, to broaden your knowledge, and to make important contacts that might be able to help you make your goal a reality.

Jiny with a friend on-campus

Tip 5: Gain support throughout your journey to ‘start-up’

There were many times throughout my studies that I was supported by USQ staff from different departments. Whenever I had a problem or a question, I could email support staff for advice or meet them in person to talk about possible solutions. 

In my first year of university, I was fearful about attending tutorials because they involved continuous discussion with peers. Where I came from, I just wasn’t familiar with group discussions. However, I kept practising talking with other students and I got used to it by the end of the year. This learning experience has improved my confidence and has allowed me to develop the skills I use today when I meet with business clients.

Jiny with staff at a team end-of-year dinner

This is a personal blog and does not constitute business or financial advice. Appropriately qualified experts or service providers should be consulted for specific advice if you are considering launching your own business. USQ is not associated with the app mentioned in this blog or with the HappyToo business.
If this blog has sparked your interest in starting your own small business, check out USQ’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation webpage.


Gilfillan, G. (2018) Small business sector contribution to the Australian economy. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved September 16, 2019, from