Best Business Articles Every Entrepreneur Should Read

As an entrepreneur, you face regular roadblocks from worries about the future to difficulties managing personnel. To learn to face these roadblocks head-on, you can turn to books, trusted advisors, or perhaps best of all for your busy schedule: business articles.

Business articles serve as an accessible source of small business advice, whether you find them in a journal, magazine, or business blog. For your convenience, we’ve compiled a list of the 18 best business articles for entrepreneurs covering topics from business management to finding the motivation to push forward.

1. “50 Signs You Might Be an Entrepreneur”

Do you have a feeling you might be an entrepreneur at heart? In “50 Signs You Might Be an Entrepreneur,” John Rampton could point out the one—or many—things that makes you the perfect small business owner deep down inside.

Entrepreneurs and business owners have a certain kind of spirit and drive that keeps pushing them forward. Use this business article to find out if you possess the qualities of an entrepreneur yourself.

2. “The iEconomy”

If you’re a small business owner on the forefront of the tech industry, then the New York Times’ “The iEconomy” is one of the best compilations of business articles to read.

The articles in this Pulitzer Prize-winning series look closely at the constantly changing high-tech industry. As an entrepreneur in a tech-facing business, you might find that the iEconomy series has a unique outlook on how challenging it can be to keep up in the tech industry.

3. “‘Don’t Take It Personally’ Is Terrible Work Advice”

In this Harvard Business Review article, Duncan Coombe explains why small business owners and employees should take work personally.

This Harvard Business Review piece is one of the best business articles for entrepreneurs looking for advice on how to engage their employees, build a successful business, and take pride in their work.

4. “Why You Hate Work”

In the New York Times’ “Why You Hate Work,” Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath look into what the modern employee needs to be fulfilled while in the workplace.

If you’re wondering how you can make your employees happier at work, this is one of the best business articles to read. Schwartz and Porath dive deep into what motivates people—and what pushes them away.

Or if you’re one of those 9-to-5 employees who hates your job, this might be one of the best business articles to inspire you to take your career into your own hands.

5. “Think You’re Too Old to Be an Entrepreneur? Think Again.”

Despite what you might have learned from “Silicon Valley” or “The Social Network,” not every entrepreneur is a 20something male wearing a hoodie.

If you’re looking for business articles that will reassure you that you’re not too young to start your own business, then you’ve found one in this infographic. Entrepreneurs are of all ages and come from all walks of life, and Anna Vital’s infographic will convince you of that.

Best Small Business Loans

If you’re a small-business owner relying on personal investments for capital, you’re not alone. About three-fourths of starting businesses depend on personal or family savings when starting out.2 But what happens when your lack of funding prohibits your business’s growth? You might wonder how to get small-business loans from a bank or credit union. As a less established business, you can’t bank on help from a bank. Fortunately, some services specialize in online business loans for smaller companies.

After reading this review, you should know more about our five favorite picks and understand which loan company best fits your needs.

Lendio: Best overall

Lendio doesn’t make direct loans; it aggregates loan options from a network of over 75 business funders, including Kabbage, AMEX, and Enova. Within a single platform, Lendio allows you to navigate hundreds of loan options, custom tailored to your business’s budget needs.

While Lendio’s service is free—the company is funded by its partner lenders, not customers—there are some loan qualifications to meet. Your business needs to have been in operation for at least six months, your credit score should be 550 or higher, and your monthly revenue should be no less than $10,000 a month. If your company meets the eligibility bar, Lendio should be your first click: it’s been fast, easy, and comprehensive for over 33,000 small-business owners who’ve secured more than $650 million in loans since 2011.

Kabbage: Most convenient

Just like its unique name, Kabbage takes a distinctive approach to its small-business lending. If you value the speediest approval process and easily accessible funds, Kabbage’s lines of credit might be the funding option for you.

Kabbage doesn’t peg your small business with hidden fees, but its fee-based system is a little tricky to understand at first. You pay a principal-based fee of at least 1% every month, but in the first months of your loan, you’ll see a higher percentage rate. This makes early payment possible but less effective.

OnDeck: Best for established businesses

Some of the companies on this list offer lines of credit while others offer term loans. OnDeck provides both, giving your business options. If you have a specific project or purchasing goal in mind, you can grab a loan that lasts from 3 to 36 months. Or if you need to be prepared for occasional surprise costs, you can opt for a line of credit and pay interest only on the amount you draw.

Costs will vary according to your company’s cash flow and credit score, but the lowest annual interest rate listed is a competitive 9.99%. If you decide to borrow from OnDeck again in the future, you’ll receive significant discounts to reward you for your loyalty. However, make sure you’re okay with frequent, smaller payments because you’ll need to plan on either a daily or weekly repayment schedule.

Funding Circle: Best customer service

As one of the pioneers in peer-to-peer lending, Funding Circle has been around for a while. Perhaps part of its sticking power comes from great customer service. If you read through reviews of the company online, you’ll see a fairly consistent message of reliable service and helpful staff. Funding Circle also doesn’t require a specific amount of yearly revenue, which can help a small business with a solid reputation but low annual revenue.

Funding Circle serves small businesses in the US, the UK, the Netherlands, and Germany, but it doesn’t provide small loans: you’ll need to be in the market for a loan of $25,000 or more. You’ll also want to ensure your business has a solid credit score to benefit from Funding Circle’s comparatively low interest rates. Make sure you also pay close attention to the origination fee of the loan, since it will change along with your interest rate.

Low-Investment Business Ideas You Can Start Online

Buy stock, store it, pick it, pack it, ship it. Managing inventory is a big commitment when you’re running an online business.

But there are actually many business ideas you can start that let you focus less on the logistics associated with inventory and more on your business.

These low-investment, no-inventory online businesses make a great entry point for beginners or anyone with a busy schedule, giving you a hands-on education in entrepreneurship at a fraction of the cost.

You still need to come up with a solid idea, build a brand, do marketing, and provide customer service. But you won’t have to keep a stack of products in your living room or ship every order yourself, making them excellent home businesses to start.

Here are some low-investment business ideas that let you make money without investing a lot upfront, while freeing you from the demands of inventory management.

1. Build a dropshipping store

Dropshipping is a business model where a third party seller stores and ships inventory to customers on your behalf. You just need to make the sales; you don’t need to handle the products yourself.

Simply put, dropshipping is a modern take on the oldest form of business: Buy an item for a low price and sell it for a profit. Except in this case, the supplier you’re buying it from is also the one responsible for getting it to the customer.

You can curate products from different suppliers into your own online store under a theme that focuses on a specific niche, like mats for yoga enthusiasts or water bowls for dog owners. When a customer buys a product from you, the order is sent to your supplier who fulfills it on your behalf. However, you are still responsible for your own customer service.

There are both local and overseas suppliers you can work with, as long as you can establish a relationship with them built on trust—an unreliable supplier will reflect poorly on your brand.

Since many of the products you can dropship are commodities and will be unbranded, your business will be competing with others through marketing and quality customer service. In other words, it often boils down to whether you can sell a product better than the competition.

That said, dropshipping is a low-investment way to test product-market fit and launch a business before you invest in your own original products. Just be sure to always order a sample for yourself to make sure that your supplier is reliable and that the quality of the products is fit for selling to your customers.

2. Design and sell print-on-demand t-shirts

Another dropshipping model, print-on-demand puts inventory, shipping, and fulfillment in the hands of a third-party supplier. But unlike the dropshipping idea above, the focus here is on customizing these products with your own designs to create something original.

T-shirts, hats, phone cases, hoodies, skirts, tote bags, and more become canvases for your creativity. You can think up witty slogans for developers or references that resonate with cat owners—if there’s passion and pride within a community, there’s a potential t-shirt business you can start.

Even if you’re not a designer, you can find a designer to work with using freelance sites like Fiverr, Upwork, Dribble, or 99Designs.

With many print-on-demand services, you’re paying per-product, so the base price per unit will be more expensive than if you were to order in bulk. But the advantage is that if a certain t-shirt design doesn’t sell, you haven’t actually paid for the item yet (only the design if you outsourced it).

You can even use t-shirt mockup templates so you don’t actually need to spend money on a full photoshoot for every new design.

There are a variety of print-on-demand platforms you can work with, many of which can be integrated with your Shopify store for seamless order fulfillment. However, be sure to always order a sample of your product (often offered at a discount) to make sure your custom products look good.

3. Launch your own book

A book is just another product when you think about it. And as such, you can create one to serve a particular demand in the market.

Cookbooks, picture books, comic books, photo books, coffee table books, and novels—if you’ve got the knowledge or the creativity, there are a variety of original books you can bring to the market.

Print-on-demand publishing is a relatively safe way to test the waters and get started with self-publishing, while giving you control over the quality and look of your book.

Blurb is a popular platform for this purpose, letting you create, order, and distribute your own books as digital and physical products.

While you can order one book at a time, costs naturally go down when you buy in bulk. You can consider pre-selling your book idea through Kickstarter to ensure that there’s demand and guarantee a certain number of customers for a bulk order.

Launching your own book can be a great way to monetize a blog if you have one or are looking to start one.

4. Create digital products or courses

Digital products like music, courses, and templates are unique on this list of ideas. Unlike the others, they’re not tangible products. There aren’t recurring manufacturing or shipping costs to worry about so your margins can remain high.

The trick is figuring out what makes for a good digital product. What is useful enough that people are willing to pay to download it?

The answers range from original instrumental beats to stock photos that can be licensed to other creators, to information products and templates that help people level up their skills in a particular field.

If you’ve got a talent that can be turned into a digital product, you can think about packaging it into a new stream of income.

Personal Finance Rules Every Small Business Should Live By

Managing your small business’s finances isn’t as daunting as it may seem. While there is certainly a learning curve in any new business venture, and you’ll likely need some expert support along the way, managing your business expenses is often informed by the way you manage your personal finances.

Jennifer McDermott, a consumer advocate for Finder.com, points out that it’s not uncommon when running a small business to dip into your personal savings, particularly when you’re first launching your business. It also might be that your business and personal bank accounts merge more closely than you might be comfortable with. As your business grows, it’s important to keep your personal and business bank accounts as separate as possible.

That said, some of the age-old rules that apply to your very own savings and checking accounts apply to handling your business’s finances. Here are 10 expert tips to keep in mind while managing your business, which might seem awfully familiar.

1. Track your actual cash flow

Nate Masterson, finance manager for Maple Holistics, recommends creating a spreadsheet to monitor and track your monthly cash flow. This way, you can ensure you have the money available in your ledger. “You can’t spend money that is owed to you until you have it or you have enough credit to fill in the gap until the funds clear,” says Masterson.

By tracking your actual cash flow, it’s much easier to monitor how much cash your business is producing each month. Then you can decide the best way to apply that available cash instead of your net worth.

2. Avoid debt regret

What is debt regret? According to McDermott, you should first ask yourself what you actually need to finance your business. McDermott pointed to a study conducted by Finder stating that 7.3 percent of Americans with debt-related regret said that borrowing money for a business investment was their biggest mistake.

As with any loan, McDermott recommends only borrowing what you can reasonably afford to pay back within the agreed-upon terms. This is true in your personal and professional life. Loans are an obligation that you must repay – not free money.

3. Keep an emergency fund

McDermott also points out that while most people are aware they should have a personal emergency fund set aside for the unexpected, business owners should do the same for their business. “Whether it’s to pay the rent or payroll when a debtor fails to pay on time, give your business a buffer to make it through tight cash-flow moments,” she says.

4. Learn how to budget

Masterson says that while there are a wide number of different financial tools and principles a business might use to succeed, his No. 1 suggestion is simply to budget correctly. Failing to create an accurate budget (or one that is realistic based on the costs and demands of your business) will cost you big time.

Kevin Ward, President of Park + Elm Investment Advisers, agrees: “Most of the time, you can draw up a budget based on the reflection of your accounting. By using your ledger, you can distribute cash to the places that need it the most in your business as well as focus on investing in new employees or technology that may help grow your revenue and improve your cash flow.”

5. Take meticulous care of your records

McDermott says that having accurate, up-to-date records is imperative for managing cash flow. If bookkeeping isn’t your strong suit, hire someone else to handle it. You don’t need to pay a full-time accountant, but investing in a remote or part-time assistant can help your business run smoothly.

6. Invest in your future

Jeff Proctor from DollarSprout.com, a personal finance media company geared towards millennials, says it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day processes of your business and lose sight of long-term goals. Proctor recommends making a habit of consistently reinvesting a portion of your business’s profits into things like additional training for staff, development of new products and anything else that will grow your business.

7. Spend less than you make

Proctor also says that while it seems like the simplest rule of them all, many business owners lose sight of maintaining a positive cash flow, especially companies that consistently depend on new rounds of funding to operate. “For new small businesses, the priority should be doing whatever it takes to generate positive cash flow consistently,” Proctor says.

8. Think about taxes

Kevin Ward suggests planning ahead for tax season by acting as if you were a W-2 employee. “Stash away 35 percent of everything you make to set aside for taxes,” says Ward. He adds that business deductions likely will cause your tax bill to be lower, which means there’s a good chance there will be some left over as a bonus.  And who doesn’t love a bonus?

9. Build a flexibility fund

Ward also points out the inevitable: Some months you’ll do better than others. “When you have a month in which you double or even triple your typical income, take out a percentage for taxes, retirement, and emergency funds. Give yourself your salary, and put the rest in what’s called a flexibility account.” This will ensure you’re taking care of priorities while also prioritizing savings.

10. Don’t forget retirement

Finally, Ward says you can never plan too far in advance. “Consider setting up a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP), if you have no employees, or a Simple IRA Plan, if you have employees,” he says. “These low-maintenance, high-contribution-limit plans allow business owners without a 401(k) option to save more aggressively than a traditional IRA allows.”

Managing your personal and business finances can feel overwhelming. And although there are many differences, these 10 basic finance principles can help stay on track and thrive in both financial arenas. Remember, learning more about business finance or investing in professional help may feel like a big commitment or upfront cost, but it pays dividends in the end.

Free Financial & Economic Datasets for Machine Learning

Machine Learning Applications in Finance & Economics

Machine learning is proving to be a golden opportunity for the financial sector. Financial quantitative records are kept for decades, so the industry is perfectly suited for machine learning.

Machine learning is already transforming finance and investment banking for algorithmic trading, stock market predictions, and fraud detection. In economics, machine learning can be used to test economic models and predict citizen behavior to help inform policy makers.

Financial & Economic Datasets for Machine Learning

  • Quandl: The premier source for financial and economic datasets for investment professionals. Over 250,000 people including analysts from the world’s top hedge funds, asset managers, and investment banks use Quandl.
  • EU Open Data Portal: The EU Open Data Portal gives access to open data published by EU institutions and agencies about the economy, as well as employment, science, environment, and education.
  • World Bank Open Data: Datasets covering population demographics and a huge number of economic and development indicators from across the world.
  • IMF Data: The International Monetary Fund publishes data on international finances, debt rates, foreign exchange reserves, commodity prices, and investments.
  • Financial Times Market Data: Up-to-date information on financial markets from around the world, including stock price indexes, commodities, and foreign exchange.
  • Google Trends: Examine and analyze data on internet search activity and trending news stories around the world.
  • American Economic Association (AEA): Good source for finding US macroeconomic data.
  • School System Finances: A survey of the finances of school systems in the US.
  • US Stock Data: Historical data of US stocks since 2009, updated daily.
  • CBOE Volatility Index (VIX): The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is a key measure of market expectations of near-term volatility conveyed by S&P. This is a time-series dataset including daily open, close, high and low.
  • Dow Jones Weekly Returns: Dataset includes percentage of return that stock has each week, for the purpose of training your algorithm to determine which stock will produce the greatest rate of return in the following week.
  • EconData: Thousands of economic time series, produced by US government agencies and distributed in various formats and media. Data has been organized in a standard, highly efficient, easy-to-use form for personal computers and made publicly available through the site.
  • Simfin: Data from financial statements uploaded on the SEC website, cleaned and organized in a single document that you can download and work with in a matter of seconds.
  • Saudi Arabia Public Debt: Data on Saudi Arabia Public Debt for 2005-2017 provided from Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency.
  • AssetMarco: Macroeconomic database that includes 25,000+ indicators for 120+ countries.
  • Eurostat Comext: Datasets on trade flows since 1988, organized by commodity.
  • CIA World Factbook: Economic stats of countries, as well as other stats on demographics, geography, communications, and military.

 

Top financing options for commercial real estate

Whether you’re moving into, renovating, leasing or buying commercial real estate, it’s helpful to understand the variety of financing options that may be available to you. Take the time to explore which ones might be the right fit for your project, and uncover new ways to get the support you need during this often-challenging time.

Here are some of your top financing options for a commercial real estate purchase or lease.

1. Commercial real estate mortgage loan

A mortgage loan is the main type of financing available for a commercial real estate purchase. The interest rate is important to consider, but other terms can also be critical to the success of the purchase.
  • One of the most important terms is the loan-to-value ratio—the portion of the property’s value that the bank will finance. Banks generally offer to finance 75 to 100% of the value of commercial real estate, depending on the building’s condition, resaleability and other factors. Any shortfall must usually come from your company’s working capital or your personal funds. A higher loan-to-value ratio means more money remains in your company in the near term to invest in growth or cover cash shortages.
  • A second variable is the amortization period. This usually ranges from 15 to 25 years for commercial real estate. A longer amortization period may be preferable because it means more money stays in your company’s hands now.
  • A third very important consideration is the bank’s flexibility in terms of loan repayment. For example, you may be able to get a holiday on principal payments for one or two years post-transaction to absorb the cost and disruption of the move. Or, if a cash shortage occurs later, flexible terms could allow you to make interest-only payments for several months.

2. Working capital loan

Working capital loans are short-term loans, often amortized over about five years. They’re meant to help your business pay for investments in its growth, and are handy for both real estate purchases and leases. For example, you can use one to ensure your business doesn’t experience sudden cash shortages during a move to a larger space. It’s common for businesses to significantly underestimate moving and renovation expenses, leading to strains on working capital.

A working capital loan can also help you cover the costs of buying equipment, hiring sales staff or doing a green building retrofit. Working capital loans are generally unsecured. You can sometimes negotiate a principal holiday for the first six to 12 months of the loan.

3. Leasehold improvement loan

A leasehold improvement loan is a short-term loan (often amortized over about five years) that you can use to pay for renovations to a leased space. Depending on the value of the improvement, a bank may accept the improvement as collateral for the loan, which could result in a lower interest rate than that for an unsecured loan. You can sometimes negotiate a principal holiday for the first six to 12 months of the loan.

4. Equipment loan

If you’re planning to buy equipment for your new space, an equipment loanmay be useful. Such a loan is usually amortized over the life of the equipment—typically, five to 12 years. The equipment acts as security for the loan.

5. Demand loan

A demand loan has no fixed maturity date. You can renegotiate it as your business situation changes, giving you added flexibility, or you can pay it back in full or in part at any time, without penalty. As well, the lender can require repayment of the loan at any time.

Demand loans can be useful for paying for a move, buying equipment or covering a temporary cash shortfall.

6. Line of credit

This is a short-term, flexible loan that you can tap quickly during a sudden cash crunch or to pay for renovations.

7. Vendor financing

An eager property owner may offer vendor financing to a buyer to ensure the sales goes through.

What types of jobs and employers are there in teaching and education

The most obvious career path in education is to train as a teacher, which opens up plenty of career opportunities both in schools and elsewhere. You have to meet a set of official standards to qualify and work in state schools, and the requirements include having a degree and completing postgraduate training. However, there are plenty of other roles in education and related areas such as childcare that are suitable for school leavers.

Your career options as a teacher

One of the big decisions you need to make is whether you want to be a primary school teacher or a secondary school teacher, as they have separate postgraduate training courses and it’s not all that easy to move from one to the other after you’ve qualified.

You could also work in a range of other educational settings and institutions, including:

  • FE (further education) colleges
  • special schools catering for children with disabilities and special needs
  • pupil referral units, which are for children who have been excluded or can’t be educated in mainstream schools for some other reason such as behavioural problems
  • young offenders’ institutions
  • hospitals

Who employs teachers?

Teachers at fee-paying schools – often referred to as private or independent schools – are employed by the organisation that runs the school, which is often a charitable trust. Independent schools are not required to employ qualified teachers, so technically, you could teach at an independent school without either a degree or a postgraduate qualification. However, in practice, independent schools usually want the same level of qualification as is required for state schools.

If you work for a state school, you could be employed either by the local authority or by another organisation, depending on the type of school. Community schools are run by the local authority; academies and free schools are funded directly by central government and have more control over teachers’ pay and conditions and the curriculum. So what you teach and what you earn will be dependent to some extent on the type of school you work in.

How could your career as a teacher progress?

If you want to hone your skills in the classroom, you could become a leading practitioner. This role involves leading the improvement of teaching skills and supporting your fellow teachers as well as carrying on teaching your own classes. There are also plenty of opportunities to progress to roles that involve more management, such as leading the teaching of children with special educational needs or becoming a head of department or headteacher.

Other career opportunities for qualified, experienced teachers include private tuition or working for an exam board or local authority, or as an education officer in a gallery or museum.

Career options for non-graduates in education and care

There are also plenty of jobs in schools that are suitable for non-graduates, as well as roles outside the classroom in education and childcare. If you want to work with children and young people but don’t want to become a teacher, you could consider the following options:

  • Teaching assistant work, for example providing additional support for children with special educational needs. You can progress to a higher level teaching assistant role.
  • Childcare. There are many different jobs that involve looking after young children, such as becoming a nanny, nursery nurse or nursery manager.
  • Playwork. Playworkers support and supervise children’s play in hospitals, leisure centres that offer holiday play schemes and a range of other settings.
  • Youth work. Youth workers are typically based in venues such as youth clubs and community centres. They organise activities for young people and provide them with support. You can take an apprenticeship route to qualify as a youth support worker, or study for an approved degree to become a professional youth worker. Qualifications are overseen by the National Youth Agency.
  • Breakfast club, after-school club or holiday club supervisor. These types of clubs are often attached to primary schools and provide childcare out of school hours.

There’s a range of relevant vocational qualifications available at different levels for these areas of work; these are not necessarily a requirement before you take up employment and may be available to you on the job. However, a standard requirement for anyone working with children and young people is a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check of your criminal record history.

Administrative and management roles in education

If you like the idea of working for a school or other educational organisation but don’t want to be directly involved in teaching or caring, there are plenty of other types of job you could consider. Schools, colleges, childcare settings and the education departments of local authorities all need administrators and support with their financial management and accounting, and may have entry-level roles suitable for school leavers. You could also look for school leaver opportunities in public service and local government.

Best universities in the world

1. University of Oxford

One of the most prestigious universities in the UK has come out on top on for the third year running.

The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the UK and one of the best known in the world.

There are more than 20,000 students at Oxford, with an almost equal number of undergraduates and postgraduates.

About 95 per cent of Oxford graduates are either employed or in postgraduate study within six months of leaving.

Admission is extremely competitive; on average the university receives five applications for every place.

The university employs staff from just under 100 different countries and foreign citizens make up about 40 per cent of the student and academic body.

2. University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge operates a collegiate system, much like the University of Oxford. Almost all of the 18,000 students belong to a college or hall, where they have the option to live, study and sleep on site.

There are 31 colleges and 150 academic departments at Cambridge.

The university has a long and prestigious history dating back to 1209, when scholars in Oxford fled to Cambridge after clashes with local people.

Many famous politicians, cultural figures and scientists spent time in Cambridge, including Isaac Newton and John Harvard, who would go on to found Harvard University.

Every college has unique traditions and all students matriculate in a formal ceremony when arriving at the university.

3. Stanford University

Stanford has generated many start-ups and entrepreneurs and was partly responsible for the development of the surrounding Silicon Valley.

Many students go on to achieve great things and 31 Nobel laureates are currently affiliated with Stanford.

The large campus is home to 97 per cent of undergraduates and nearly 700 university buildings, alongside museums, gardens and recreational centres.

There are just under 7,000 undergraduates and 9,000 graduates at the university, with a 7:1 student-to-staff ratio.

Research at Stanford has a $1.22 billion budget and more than 5,000 of the projects are externally funded.

4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was founded in the middle of 19th century and has always endeavoured to provide financial aid to students on a needs basis.

The very first architecture classes anywhere in the US were taught at MIT. The first female student, Ellen Swallow Richards, was admitted to the chemistry department in 1871.

Just two years later, the first international student – from Canada – graduated from MIT.

The campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, includes 18 student residences, many gardens and public works of art.

Admission to the university is extremely selective; only 8 per cent of applicants won a place in the graduating class of 2019.

Graduates are employed by top companies, including Google, Amazon and Apple.

5. California Institute of Technology

One of the most striking features of Caltech is its unusually small size; only about 1,000 undergraduates and 1,250 postgraduates are enrolled there. The college boasts a high student-to-staff ratio.

Caltech aims to foster an interdisciplinary environment in which students learn about and tackle the most challenging and fundamental scientific or technological problems.

The institution was founded as Throop University in 1891. It assumed its current name in 1920.

There were 6,506 applicants for the entry class graduating in 2019 and 99 per cent of the students accepted across all years were in the top 10 per cent of their high school class.

More than half of Caltech students receive need-based financial support. The average financial aid package is $38,983 (£29,890).

Caltech’s mascot is a beaver, “nature’s engineer”.

Among the unusual features of the university are the customary cookie break taken every Thursday by physicists and their students and the university’s status as a distributor of olive oil.