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12 business ideas for students to start at college


business ideas for students

A student business idea is an entrepreneurial endeavor initiated by a college student. College students may start businesses for various reasons and these ventures can range from small side hustles to full-fledged startups.




Why might students need to start a business?


There are many reasons why college students might choose to start a business. Some of the main ones include:


  • College students often face financial challenges, including high tuition fees, living expenses and student loan repayments. Starting a business can provide an additional income source and financial stability. Read more about how to make money as a student or how to make money as a teenager.

  • Entrepreneurship allows students to gain real-world job experience and build their resumes or portfolios. This practical experience and gained expertise can be valuable when seeking employment after graduation.

  • Running a business can offer flexibility in terms of work hours, which can be beneficial for students with irregular class schedules or other academic commitments.

  • Students may have unique talents, skills, or interests they want to pursue as a business. Entrepreneurship allows them to turn their passions and college studies into profitable ventures.



12 best business ideas for students to start while at college


Students at college can explore a range of business opportunities that fit into their busy schedules. Ideas like freelancing, dropshipping, tutoring, blogging and others offer them the chance to earn and learn simultaneously. Service businesses like pet care, landscaping and cleaning are great for part-time ventures that can accommodate academic commitments.




01. Freelancing


Freelancing involves offering your skills and services to clients or businesses on a project-by-project basis. Freelancers work independently, often remotely and may provide services such as writing, graphic design, web development, social media management or digital marketing.



Why is freelancing a good business idea for students?

Freelancing offers students the flexibility to work around their class schedules and other commitments, much like other side business ideas do. Students can leverage their skills and expertise to earn income in areas they are passionate about. Freelancing allows students to gain real-world experience, build a portfolio and network with potential clients. All of which can help them in their professional careers post-graduation.


What are some good freelancing businesses for students to start?


  • Content writing: this could be writing blog posts or freelance copywriting services for businesses.

  • Graphic design: creating logos, infographics or marketing materials for clients.

  • Web creation and development: build websites for individuals or businesses. You can use a website builder like Wix to easily build websites for clients.

  • Social media management: manage and grow social media profiles for small businesses. This can include creating posts and content, tracking users and building engagement.



02. Dropshipping


Dropshipping is an eCommerce business model where students can set up online stores and sell products without holding inventory. When a customer places an order, the products are shipped directly from the supplier to the customer.



Why is dropshipping a good business idea for students?

Dropshipping requires minimal upfront investment, making it accessible to students on a tight budget.



The e-Commerce industry is continuously growing and dropshipping allows students to tap into this market without the hassles of inventory management. In 2022 global retail m-commerce sales topped $431.4 billion and are expected to top $511.8 billion in 2023.



What are some good dropshipping businesses for students to start?


  • Online clothing store: sell clothing, accessories, or niche-specific fashion items. Learn more: How to start a clothing business.

  • Electronics and gadgets: offer a range of tech gadgets and accessories.

  • Home decor: sell decorative items, furniture or interior design products.

  • Health and wellness: focus on products like supplements, fitness equipment or eco-friendly products.



03. Reselling


Reselling involves buying products at a lower price and reselling them at a profit. This can be done through various channels, including online marketplaces, thrift stores, or even college flea markets.


Why is reselling a good business idea for students?


Reselling can be started with a small investment, which is suitable for students. It provides students with valuable experience in sales, marketing and negotiation all of which are important professional skills to learn. Students can engage in reselling part-time or during breaks so it doesn’t conflict with their studies.


What are some good reselling businesses for students to start?


  • Thrift store finds: resell vintage clothing, collectibles or antiques.

  • Online bookstore: sell used or rare books through online marketplaces.

  • Tech accessories: offer phone cases, chargers, or tech gadgets.

  • Home decor: resell furniture, artwork or other decorative items.



04. Craft business


A craft business involves creating and selling handmade crafts and products. This can include jewelry, candles, artwork, hand-knit scarves or personalized gifts.


Why is crafting a good business idea for students?


Craft businesses allow students to express their creativity and turn their hobbies into income. Operating from a dorm room or small workspace minimizes overhead costs.



Handcrafted items have a unique, artisanal appeal that can attract regular customers. Learn how to sell crafts online.



What are some good crafting business ideas for students to start?


  • Handmade jewelry: create custom jewelry pieces or unique designs.

  • Candle making: craft scented or decorative candles.

  • Art and illustrations: sell original artwork, prints, or digital designs.

  • Personalized gifts: offer custom-made gifts, such as mugs, T-shirts or home decor.



05. Tutoring


Tutoring involves providing educational support to students or learners in specific subjects or skills. This can be done in person or online and subjects can range from math and science to languages and test preparation.



Why is tutoring a good business idea for students?


Students can leverage their knowledge in subjects they’re passionate about and in turn, share them with other students. Tutors can schedule sessions around their class schedule and availability which makes this a flexible business idea to start. It can also be a great business idea for students looking to enter teaching or lecturing as a professional post-graduation.



What are some good tutoring businesses for students to start?


  • Academic tutoring: offer assistance in subjects like math, science, or history.

  • Language lessons: teach foreign languages or provide English as a Second Language (ESL) lessons.

  • Test prep: help students prepare for standardized tests like the SAT or GRE.

  • Music or art lessons: provide music instruction or art lessons to aspiring learners.



06. Start and monetize a blog


Blogging involves creating and regularly updating an online platform where you share information, opinions, or expertise on a specific topic or niche. Monetizing a blog means earning income from it through various methods like advertising, affiliate marketing, sponsored content or selling digital products.



Why is a blog a good business idea for students?


Blogging allows students to work on their own schedules, making it easy to balance with classes. All you need to blog is a computer and an internet connection, making it possible to do from anywhere. It's an opportunity to express ideas, passions and knowledge. These are all important skills for a college student. Over time, a well-monetized blog can generate passive income.


Learn more: Passive income ideas.


What are some good blog ideas for students to start?


  • Travel blog: share travel experiences, tips and affiliate links to booking platforms.

  • Fitness blog: Discuss fitness nutrition and promote related products.

  • Tech blog: write reviews and recommendations for tech products.

  • Finance blog: offer financial advice, budgeting tips and promote financial tools.


Get started with the Wix blog maker and make your own blog.



07. Marketing services


These services encompass a wide range of activities, such as social media marketing, content creation, SEO and advertising, to help businesses reach and engage their target audience.



Why is marketing a good business idea for students?


Students often possess digital marketing skills, either from their studies or from their own use of social media and can leverage them to help businesses improve theirg online presence. Marketing is essential for businesses and there's a consistent demand for marketing services that students can tap intoStudents can offer marketing services on a freelance basis, which provides flexibility around their studies and extracurricular commitments..


What are some good marketing businesses for students to start?


  • Social media management: help businesses grow and manage their social media profiles.

  • Content creation: provide blog posts, articles or video content for companies.

  • Email marketing: helping to create the assets and strategy for email marketing campaigns.



08. Pet sitting and care


Pet sitting and care services involve taking care of pets when their owners are away. This includes pet sitting, dog walking, feeding and providing companionship or even boarding.


Why is pet care a good business idea for students?

Students who love animals can earn income doing what they enjoy. Pet sitting can be done part-time, at the weekend, in the evenings or during breaks. Minimal investment is needed for pet sitting and dog walking which suits most students' budgets.


What are some good pet-related businesses for students to start?


  • Dog walking: offering daily dog-walking services for pet owners.

  • In-home pet sitting: care for pets at the owner's home while they're away.

  • Pet boarding: provide boarding services for pets in your home or a rented space.

  • Pet grooming: offer grooming and spa services for pets.



09. Landscaping


Landscaping services involve tasks like lawn maintenance and gardening. This can include mowing, weeding, planting and landscape design.


Why is gardening a good business idea for students?


Landscaping provides a physical workout, which can be appealing to students who want to keep fit as part of their business. Landscaping can be seasonal, allowing students to work during breaks and avoiding conflict with their studies. The startup costs for basic landscaping services are relatively low, some lawn care services can be done with the lawn owner's tools or equipment.



What are some good landscaping-related businesses for students to start?


  • Lawn care: offer services like mowing, edging and lawn treatment.

  • Gardening and planting: assist homeowners with garden design and planting.

  • Tree care: prune, trim and care for trees on residential properties.

  • Landscape design: create landscape plans and implement them for clients.



10. Cleaning services


Cleaning services involve cleaning and maintaining residential or commercial spaces. This can include house cleaning, office cleaning and specialized cleaning services.


Why is cleaning a good business idea for students?


Cleaning businesses can start with basic cleaning supplies, keeping initial costs low for students. Cleaning can be scheduled around classes and other commitments, a flexibility that is ideal for college students as a part-time business idea.


What are some good cleaning businesses for students to start?


  • House cleaning: offer regular house cleaning services for homeowners.

  • Office cleaning: provide cleaning services for small businesses or offices.

  • Specialized cleaning: focus on niche cleaning services like carpet cleaning, window washing, or post-construction cleaning.

  • Janitorial services: offer cleaning and maintenance services to commercial properties.



11. Bookkeeping


A bookkeeping business involves maintaining financial records and ensuring the accuracy of financial transactions for businesses. This includes tasks like data entry, reconciling accounts and preparing financial reports.


Why is bookkeeping a good business idea for students?


Students with accounting or finance knowledge can offer bookkeeping services to businesses who need it, this can be done on a freelance basis, providing flexibility for students. It’s also a great way for students to learn how to manage a business themselves.


What are some good bookkeeping businesses for students to start?


  • Small business: assist small businesses with their financial record-keeping.

  • Virtual services: provide remote and online bookkeeping services to clients.

  • Tax preparation: expand services to include tax preparation and filing.

  • Financial consulting: offer financial advice and consultation in addition to bookkeeping. Make sure you understand the risks and liabilities involved in providing businesses with financial advice that they may then act on.



12. Delivery services


Delivery services involve transporting goods or packages from one location to another. This can include food delivery, courier services or package delivery.


Why are delivery services a good business idea for students?


Delivery services can be scheduled around class hours and student availability. Basic delivery services can be started with a vehicle or even a bicycle, meaning minimal startup costs.


What are some good delivery services for students to start?


  • Food delivery: partner with local restaurants for food delivery services.

  • Package delivery: delivering parcels for courier companies or retailers.



How to turn a student business idea into a successful business?


  • Choose a business idea that aligns with your skills, interests and market demand. For example, if you have a special talent for animation, then you can learn how to make money as an animator. Conduct market research to identify unmet needs or niches within your target industry. You can also consider choosing from recession-proof business ideas, to ensure no matter what you're able to maintain your business.

  • Create a detailed business plan outlining your business goals, target market, competition, financial projections and marketing strategy.

  • Explore funding options, such as personal savings, grants, loans or crowdfunding, to finance your business.

  • Effectively manage your time to balance coursework, business operations and personal life. Create a schedule that accommodates your class schedule and business needs.

  • Build a network of mentors, peers and potential clients. Networking can provide valuable guidance and opportunities for collaboration.

  • Establish a strong online presence through a business website, social media and e-Commerce platforms (you can do this by making an eCommerce website of your own) if applicable. Online visibility is essential for attracting customers and clients via an eCommerce model.

  • Prioritize the quality of your products or services and provide excellent customer service. Satisfied customers are more likely to return and refer your business.

  • Ensure your business complies with all relevant laws and regulations. This includes registering your business and applying for business licenses, permits, taxes and intellectual property considerations.

  • Develop effective marketing strategies to reach your target audience. Consider digital marketing, social media, content marketing and traditional advertising methods too.

  • Be prepared to adapt to changes and challenges in the business landscape. Flexibility and the ability to pivot when necessary are key to success.

  • Keep accurate financial records and budget your expenses wisely. Monitor your business's financial health regularly.

  • Seek feedback from customers to identify areas for improvement. Be open to making necessary changes and enhancements to your business.

  • Consider seeking mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs or professors who can provide guidance and support. They can provide invaluable advice, such as this from Anegl Gregorio, Founder of the Spice Suite, "The best advice that I give to people is always 'Start now, perfect later,'” she says. “I never got so tied up in the need to perfect it all. I'm here to say, 'Just start it. You can fix it along the way. If you build your tribe and your community, they will go along the journey with you.’"



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