How to Start a Chemical Engineering Business

Graduating summa cum laude with a chemical engineering degree was a ticket to well-paying jobs a couple of years ago - but alas! How the times have changed! The modern day companies are more concerned about downsizing than they are hiring fresh graduates. So what other options do you have as a recent chemical engineering graduate? The answer lies in entrepreneurship – and unlike the case in employment, there are very few chemical engineer entrepreneurs.

By definition, a chemical engineer designs processes and installs systems to streamline production and to ensure maximum efficiency in all chemical processes. The result is improvement in the quality of life, environmental protection and creation of jobs & wealth. Why hit the road of job seeking, when you could easily create jobs for your peers?

Imagine the numerous skills that a degree in chemical engineering exposes you to. Here is a short list:

  • Process design
  • Production engineering
  • Safety
  • Marketing/technical sales
  • Environmental and waste management
  • Research and development

Each of the skills above can easily be turned into a revenue stream. So how do you become a chemical engineering entrepreneur?

Becoming the chemical engineering entrepreneur

Chemical engineering is as practical as it can get. Think about it - almost everything we touch or see has been created through a process invented or designed by a chemical engineer. Imagine a life without chocolate, petrol, cosmetics, electricity, cars, aspirin, the list is endless... Now think of how it all came to be- a process engineer was involved at some stage.

Seriously, why would one narrow down the possibilities of making a good career from the sought after majors to just be employed by the government or a private industrial company? The advantages of self-employment cannot be substituted for a simple ordinary career. Don’t get me wrong- I don’t dislike employment. I just happen to be a great fan of risk takers.

Some startup ideas for chemical engineers

Let me share with you some great ideas of industries you can start your business in. This is just an indicative list and I am sure they will inspire you to think of even more.  So here we go:

  • Wine-making
  • Food production (eg:. beer, milk, cheese, sugar)
  • Petrochemicals (eg: gold, rare, earths, plastics, natural gas)
  • Industrial Chemicals (eg: detergents and soaps, chlorine, explosives)
  • Biotechnology and pharmaceutical products
  • Management consulting (ie: engineering business and financial management)

Kick-starting the chemical engineering enterprise

Below are a few tips of getting started with the chemical engineering enterprise:

1. Prepare a quality business plan

A business plan is the reality check as it covers the framework of the chemical engineer’s business’s mission, goals and strategic vision. I use the word “reality check” because the information in the business plan should be based on real world information including market analysis.

2. Mind the competition

Before commencing the chemical engineering business, one ought to find out the presence of competitors in the locality. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of competitors is important as it enables one to discover how to outshine them. Try the link below that generates the number of chemical engineering competitors in the locality;

3. Get some “big brother” wisdom

There is too much risk involved in business-especially a chemical engineering enterprise. Nonetheless, the risk can be reduced by gaining insights about this field through those who have gone ahead of us. Many experienced entrepreneurs do not mind offering advice to start-up entrepreneurs provided there is no direct competition. Take advantage of the link below to find chemical engineers founders that can be of great help;

4. Entry options: which way to go?

There are two options for business minded chemical engineers- launching a new business or buying an existing one. The advantage of a startup is that it gives the ability to create something that is at par with one’s personal goals and leadership style. The flipside is difficulty in financing due to the risky nature. A chemical engineers’ business purchase is attractive to lenders and investors while minimizing uncertainty.

So there you have it! If you have a Chemical Engineering degree, don’t just hit the road in pursuit of a job. You have more than what it takes to come up with the next revolutionary idea. Nothing can stop you from being the chemical engineering entrepreneur the world has never seen!


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