Starting a small business while in college can sustain you financially once you hit the right note. If you’re ready to go the extra mile, then setting up a company at university may be your calling. You only need a bright idea for a product or service, perseverance, and dedication.
The upside of most business ideas for college students is that campuses are ideal for validating a product or service. Here, we present the basics of over 20 profitable career suggestions. Our list includes a range of small and large-scale business ideas for any student to find their niche market.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Business Ideas For Students 2021
- 1.1 Textbook Exchange Service
- 1.2 Resell Or Swap Website
- 1.3 Dorm Cleaning Service
- 1.4 Moving Service
- 1.5 Furniture Renting
- 1.6 Virtual Assistant
- 1.7 Create An App
- 1.8 Tutor In-Person Or Online
- 1.9 Teach English Online
- 1.10 Transcription Or Translation Service
- 1.11 Writing Services
- 1.12 Subscription Boxes
- 1.13 Scooter Or Bike Rental Service
- 1.14 Baby Or Pet-Sitting
- 1.15 Web Design Services
- 1.16 Digital Marketing Agency
- 1.17 Photography Services
- 1.18 Food Delivery Business
- 1.19 Blogging
- 1.20 Youtuber
- 1.21 Social Media Influencing Or Promoting
- 1.22 Jewelry Or Craft Shop
- 1.23 Baking Business
- 2 Will It Be Possible To Run A Business As A Student?
- 3 How Can A College Student Start A Business?
- 4 Final Thought
- 5 FAQs
Best Business Ideas For Students 2021
Being a student doesn’t mean you can’t make some cash on the side. We’ve handpicked some common as well as some unusual ways for college students to earn money in 2021. Here they are.
Textbook Exchange Service
A company whose main activity is textbook exchange is challenging to start and grow. Yet, if you’re persistent, the rewards can be multiple. To get the ball rolling, create an app or website that enables students to upload used textbooks for purchase or rent.
Setting up an online page for book exchange with various textbooks in stock will boost your chances of success. Also, it’s advisable to confirm with the professors that older textbook versions are still usable. Knowing what you’re selling will give your buyers confidence that your books are what they need.
Alternatively, if selling online is not your cup of tea, you can do it in person. Get your bunch of old books and offer them to students who are up to take a particular module. The more people know your business, the more books they’ll sell through you to avoid selling themselves.
Resell Or Swap Website
Swap websites are increasingly popular since people need to swap, borrow, and sell various goods and services. For instance, why would somebody buy a single-use item when they can rent it out for a fraction of the cost? On-campus, many students are willing to spend less and still get things done.
A resell or swap business for students would allow people to save a few bucks on the go. Often referred to as a new age barter system, the demand for barters on any campus is vast but unorganized. Start your swap site locally, and then you can expand it.
Items that students often borrow and exchange include academic services, books, bikes, and clothes. Your earnings will come from advertising or taking a small fee on each swap.
Dorm Cleaning Service
Many college attendees miss having their parents getting their rooms in order. Once at university, they may not feel like cleaning their dorms. As a result, this creates a perfect opportunity for you to charge for the room cleaning service. Setting up an hourly fee for the service is the most profitable way to work your way up the career ladder.
Startup costs are low since you only need to get cleaning supplies and a business license. You may not even need to get a loan to start this business. Once you have a regular clientele base, think about hiring other students to do the work for you. We like this idea because you can start it from any college or university and then expand further.
If you want to increase the scope of your activity, publish an online ad for cleaning services in the neighborhood. Building trust with clients will get you some new clients. Ask them for a referral, and you may get hired to clean the houses of all neighbors.
Whether on-the-go students move back for the fall semester or travel home for the summer, movers can generate significant cash. Though moving is hard work and involves heavy lifting, a single job can get you up to $200. College Hunks noticed this in 2007, and their student moving service has expanded nationwide.
The moving business allows you to have flexible hours and arrange your schedule. To start properly, it’s best to procure a cargo van and a couple of helpers. Also, you should learn how to package items and move boxes fast and safely. Once you have an extensive network, advertise your services through word-of-mouth, ads, flyers, and social media.
Most college students bring furniture designed for the room when they move to dorms. Later on, these items usually end up in landfills or get donated since they don’t fit other places well. It’s up to you to use the fact that most students fail to sell the used furniture. Instead, you can pay them for the trouble of bringing custom furniture to the dorm.
Many students will agree to rent their unnecessary dorm furniture for a fee. You can also ask local furniture shops to make the furniture and charge students for the service. Promote yourself via social media and visit dorms before the academic year starts.
Virtual assistants are among the best business ideas for college students since you can run the activity from your dorm. Your tasks would involve helping other businesses and experts with their online needs. Expect to convert datasets in excel, transcribe audio files, answer emails, or enter data as part of your obligations.
Today, market competition for general virtual assistants is vast, so you may want to focus on a niche market. Meaning, consider offering your services to college professors and teachers. Think about providing services such as marking, making presentations, and other tasks a professor might need.
Create An App
Suppose you’re skilled with mobile technology. In that case, the most profitable businesses to start in college are those related to mobile app development. Depending on your preferences, you can create apps for clients or sell your products to app stores.
Voice-enhancement apps are fantastic since they enable people to use them for voice messaging. They only need an installed messaging app to alter their voices in fun and exciting ways. Plus, users can clip audio files and make use of other amusing features. Indeed, audio allows room for development as many people use it to type out texts and send voice messages.
Above all, you need to have a solid background in coding and software development. If you have this talent, apps can get quickly developed and launched from any dorm room.
Create an app or set up a website to let the singles at your campus or local area meet. This idea is not new, but it can get much appreciated. Your app could kick off and be the meeting space of the college campus for a small fee.
Alternatively, your app can encourage more networking. As face-to-face communication fades away, you’ll give students the chance to meet new friends at university. Whatever your choice, you can widen the span based on the performances in the future.
Motivational apps can focus on anything from education to mental health. Your product could show lectures, events, or seminars and allow users who attend to collect points at the end. These apps aim to improve productivity among students in an entertaining way. Rewards can be vouchers, coupons from sponsors, or deals for local services.
Similar apps can get designed for gym attendance, fitness, and other activities too. Also, motivations and support apps for mental health may get super famous. Students can unite to fight against depression, bullying, and social anxiety. The best way to monetize your app ideas is through ads.
College Education App
Your business for students options here are practically limitless. Think about creating an online forum where students taking the same course can discuss and prepare for their exams. The app can include the study material, tools, guides, and discussion helps.
Likewise, you can develop a class scheduling app for the college you attend. This way, you will help both students and professors always be on time.
Third, a task reminder app will remind students and teachers about various daily activities. Users can get notified of due dates for submitting assignments, exams, and homework.
School Notices App
Why not create an app for parents? Instead of email communication, schools can update parents on all college matters via an app. Notices may involve snow/rainy day holidays, attendance, report cards, and upcoming school events. This way, parents and teachers can upload files, photos, and videos essential for college education.
You can always create an app that targets your fellow students and then promote it around your campus. This is a great way to save cash on marketing and solve a common problem.
Tutor In-Person Or Online
Places full of students require only one thing – tutors. Those who stand out in a particular course or subject can teach the others who struggle to understand it for a fee. Payments should be per hour and effort invested. Typically, you can charge anything between $10 and $50, depending on the subject and the concepts taught.
Most schools strive to help students to start their tutor businesses. You will even find a database of tutor students in some colleges, so ensure there is one in your school.
You may opt for teaching in-person or online. If you go for online teaching, visual media can enhance the process. Those who have a creative mind and graphic design skills can create super-interesting videos.
In short, try to make a visual representation of the lectures and offer them to students. This way, studying will become more accessible and attractive. Think about monetizing your efforts by pricing each video or through a monthly subscription.
Teach English Online
Do you excel in English or another language? Then, consider setting up a Skype or Zoom language course and teach people from across the globe while staying at home. You could charge from $20 to $60 per hour and arrange a schedule that fits your studies.
Once you grow your client base by getting referrals from existing customers, think about hiring other tutors. Later, you can use a teaching platform to boost your online presence. Gradually, you can enlarge the range of languages taught via your company.
Transcription Or Translation Service
Starting a transcription or translation service best fits people keen on languages. Hence, if you study abroad where they speak a different language and know the native language, wait no more.
To begin, set up a website where customers can upload documents in one language. Then, transcribe the document to the required target language, and send it back over your portal for a fee. On top of earning, you won’t spend your precious time dealing with mail and hardcopy documents. If work is constant and you wish to expand your workforce, hire other students along the way.
If you’re good at writing research papers, this business for college students may prove perfect for you. Again, you can set up a website where other students will send in research paper requests. It’s best to inquire about the deposits for the work upfront, too. Later, you can write the paper from the comfort of your dorm room.
Another idea is to start a website for all kinds of writing services to students or businesses. Your niche could be sales and marketing, SEO content, essay writing, or even simple proofreading. Before starting your writing service, gain some experience as a professional writer for a renowned website. The charging system is usually per hour or project.
Many college students miss home when they first move to attend higher education classes. Plus, they find it challenging to get proper care of themselves. Your service will solve this issue since you will deliver care packages that parents prepare for their kids. By delivering at specific times of the year, students won’t get home-sick but receive a healthy packed box of goods.
To expand the business, think about partnering with local food suppliers. This way, you’ll offer parents custom boxes and ease the process by saving them time and money. You’ll be surprised at the willingness of families to pay for the comfort of their children. Hence, the price point is usually higher than the other subscription box services.
Scooter Or Bike Rental Service
Campus committing doesn’t always have to be tiring. With your rental service, students will hire bikes or scooters to get to classes and extracurricular activities faster. Depending on the initial investment you’re ready to make, you can start with bikes only and then expand. Note that you’ll also need to install bike or scooter racks at various strategic points on campus.
This business idea is a large-scale one, as two-wheelers are an expensive initial investment. Still, your company can grow if you study in a large city with many campuses.
Baby Or Pet-Sitting
The demand for babysitters, petsitters, and nannies will never die out. With both parents at work and ever-shrinking maternity leaves, the babysitting market is only widening. If you have a knack for pets and babies, plus a pleasing personality, you are fit to go.
There are two ways to address these business ideas for colleges and introduce a pricing system. First, you can care for babies for a couple of hours when the parents are out or take pets for one/two-hour walks. Second, you can babysit while parents work or pet sit while people are taking holidays. We suggest you offer discounts for regular clients.
Web Design Services
No business will risk its success for the lack of design work. So, those fond of graphic design can create logos, flyers, packaging, or even websites. Even better, niche down to local businesses or startups. As for prices, decide whether you’ll charge per hour or project.
Another food for thought is that students often face hardships when getting businesses to trust them. One way to build trust is to show clients previous high-quality work or referrals and offer one free project.
Digital Marketing Agency
With the emergence of e-commerce and online businesses, digital marketing has been shaping advertising in recent years. Non-digitized businesses that ignore internet profiles and presence miss many clients.
As a result, most local businesses seek help to create digital marketing strategies. Grab the chance to shine if you excel in digital marketing strategies. Reach and provide company owners with free consultations to show you expertise on the subject. Offer assistance with the local SEO, Google/Facebook Ads campaigns, or social media management.
: You will need time and dedication to make your college student business work in 2021. If you succeed, however, you’ll be way ahead of your classmates.
If you take pictures as a hobby, why don’t you turn your talent into a freelancing photography business for students? Consider both students and local companies your potential clients here. They may need your services for high-quality photos to promote themselves or their recently launched products for a small fee.
The most significant initial investment is in photography equipment. Plus, the cost will increase if you’re moving the props around. However, you can start offering various services at the onset. As the business grows and you set off to beat the competition, you will focus on one segment. By specializing in a particular photography service, you will be different from the rest and attract more clients.
Food Delivery Business
Imagine a group of students who need some food delivered to their dorm from the cafeteria. They won’t go themselves as they either study or are lazy. Hence, if you have reliable transportation, start a delivery service for food. Apart from being a no-brainer business idea for college students, the initial cost is low.
The best approach is to operate on-call or have an app or platform where people can order their food. What is even better, you can quickly expand and offer quick eatables like sandwiches and smoothies to local businesses. With options to schedule deliveries to arrive at lunchtime, your service might be a problem solver for many nearby companies. Later on, you can take a step further and make your deliveries homemade and authentic.
Is there anything you enjoy talking and writing about? Then put your writing skills to use and start a blog about that topic. Once you have enough readers, you may begin earning through ads and premium content. The startup costs for blogging are low nowadays, with a domain and hosting costing you less than $50 a year.
Be realistic about building your audience as it takes a lot of time, quality content, and consistency. For instance, you may need up to three years to build a readership anywhere from 10 to 50k in size.
Those keen on making videos and having exceptional skills can start a YouTube channel. All you need to turn your creative idea into money is a camera. Your niche can be anything from pranks to makeup tutorials or even a day-in-the-life of a student.
Yet, becoming a hit on YouTube requires a discerning eye and some hard work. One of the biggest challenges is updating regular, sustainable content. Most funny and prank videos go viral, so this may be a clever starting point in your pursuit of YouTube fame.
As for earnings, money depends on the views you get. Every 1,000 views will get you from $3 to $5 and up to $18 for 1,000 ad views. If your niche is makeup or fitness, partner with local brands and promote their product in your videos. The upside of Youtubing is that views will rack up over time without you doing anything. Hence, the video creation business is an excellent passive earner.
Social Media Influencing Or Promoting
Being big on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter has some exceptional benefits. Indeed, you can generate significant cash and get freebies by advertising products and services for brands. As an influencer, it would be ideal to promote products that are relevant to your content. For example, if you’re a food blogger, focus on collaborating with restaurants and healthy food companies.
Your social media presence can serve other purposes, too. Make money off promoting social events as a business for college students. The need for experts in managing events is growing, so your startup can get going with moderate capital investment. Having negotiating skills, a broad contact network, and marketing techniques are some of the perquisites for such startups.
Jewelry Or Craft Shop
Are you fond of jewelry making and enjoy crafting? Then why not turn that talent into finance? Besides having impressive ideas, you can upgrade your products by checking up online tutorials. Profit margins tend to be high for those who offer unique jewelry.
Remember that the competition in the jewelry field is tough, so you should identify a niche. Here, you can check some other ways to make money as an artist. Social media are among the most usual strategies to promote your work.
For baking enthusiasts, selling cookies, cakes, and treats can be a fulfilling way to earn money. To start, you need a kitchen and some basic baking supplies. Then, focus on marketing your products on Facebook and Instagram or by distributing flyers.
In case you can provide transport, offer to drop round your baked goods in the vicinity. Some schools might even let you set up a bake sale or stand. Talented bakers charge higher rates for custom-made goods like birthday or wedding cakes.
Will It Be Possible To Run A Business As A Student?
The simple answer is yes. If you have a unique idea to generate cash and the will to invest your time and energy, nobody can stop you. There are no legal or financial reasons that prevent a college student from starting a side gig. If you’re dedicated to what you’re doing, your dream may grow into a successful company.
The Internet gives everyone access to various information and financing for new startups. Your studies may take valuable time, but you will manage to study and run your startup if you stay organized. Moreover, setting up a business early on can help you choose your career path and open doors to many opportunities.
When you graduate and already have a profitable business, only the sky will be your limit. So, don’t be afraid to try one of the college student business ideas we suggested and test your entrepreneurial skills.
How Can A College Student Start A Business?
Most Business students probably have an idea of the phases included in setting up and launching a company. However, not everyone is aware of them, so here are the typical steps you need to take:
1. Grasp The Idea
To decide which home-based business ideas to turn into reality, consider what you enjoy doing and excel in college. Also, consider the initial investment and equipment. Most students go for businesses to start in college without investment or little resources.
2. Select A Niche Market
Businesses of all sizes and shapes abound. Building one is even easier with the Internet full of websites, videos, and LLCs. However, this means a lot of competition in any industry. A specific niche will help you limit the business and focus on the college campus or people with particular interests and likes.
3. Decide On A Name
Choosing a name and a brand style for your startup is something you mustn’t neglect. The key is to brainstorm several ideas, evaluate them, and then ask for feedback. As for branding, it’s best to consult online tutorials on building the brand of a business.
4. Launch The Business
Launching must happen fast to confirm whether your service or product is worth pushing. Many startups fail, so you need to launch quickly and validate early. If one idea doesn’t work, switch to another business.
5. Market Your Business
Focus on advertising, go outside and deliver leaflets. Be present on social media and send cold messages to potential clients that you found on Facebook groups.
6. Satisfy Your Customers
Business ideas for college students market themselves by word of mouth and referrals. Hence, it’s essential to ensure each customer is happy with the results. Always ask clients what you could do better next time and give a discount if some parts of the job were incorrect.
Once the business is going well, consider hiring your first employee. To avoid the risks of going into negative numbers during a bad month, you can work on a commission-based wage. In this stage, the selection of the new team members is essential.
There’s no uniform approach when it comes to starting a business in college. Yet, if you put your heart and soul into your startup, you don’t have to fear failure.
Even if you fail, college is the time to experiment and develop, and it is the beginning of your life journey. As smooth as our ideas for colleges may sound, they all need a lot of dedication and perseverance.
Can you think of other small business ideas for students we haven’t included in our list? Share them with our readers and sign up for our newsletter.
What business can I start as a student?
There are small and large-scale businesses of any type you can start. Consider making money from social media depending on your finances and talents. Alternatively, create a website or run a blog. Also, pet and babysitting don’t require an initial investment.
What can I sell as a student?
First, you can always sell your class notes from college. Besides selling notes, college students keen on writing can sell research papers and essays. Reselling textbooks and clothes or renting them out is another idea you may try. Last, consider delivering homemade food and drinks or custom baking goods.
What are the most successful small businesses?
Home improvement and cleaning services have been some of the businesses growing exponentially. Then, tutoring and personal training startups are also rising stars in the business sphere. Think about offering delivery services, too. Finally, the Internet era has made digital marketing services and app development real gold mines.
What is the easiest business to start?
The least inquiring business to start depends on your skills and preferences. Overall, the service business allows much room for growth for any beginner. In short, you will be selling services, so the initial investment is low. Meaning, you sell your skill, labor, or expertise and not products or goods.