What business idea is the best for you as a college student in 2021?
Balancing school work with a job can be pretty difficult.
But that’s if you have a job…
What if you don’t? What can you do about it?
I’ve been there, I know how it feels.
This is where having a business of your own makes a HUGE difference.
You’ll have the flexibility to work on your own terms, do the things you love, and improve your personal skills.
These are some of the things that owning a business can do for you.
No, I’m not pitching entrepreneurship to you. I think you are already interested because you are here, at this moment, reading this.
But as a college student, maybe it often feels like your hands are tied, maybe you feel like you don’t have what it takes to start a business.
No money, no experience. Just…nothing to start with.
In this post, I’ll show you 10 profitable (and low-cost) small business ideas for college students and how you can make them work for you.
Before we go ahead, just in case you still have doubts about starting a business, here’s why you should start a business in college.
Why starting a small business in college is a good idea
1. Gives you flexibility
There’s nothing like being able to work on your own terms – becoming your own boss.
It’s more awesome for students. With classes and other commitments, having a fixed job can be a stressful addition to your list of responsibilities..
That’s why having a small business of your own can go a long way in giving you the flexibility that you may wish for.
2. Helps you build entrepreneurial skills early
The earlier you start a business the earlier you have the chance to learn how to be an entrepreneur.
Running a business is one of those things – it’s impossible to learn it without actually doing it.
Many people underestimate how demanding being an entrepreneur can be.
You have to learn several skills and be willing to innovate, make changes and adapt to the constantly changing business environment.
Entrepreneurship is a pretty long journey, the earlier you start, the better for you.
3. High scalability
Most massive businesses started small.
When you start a business in college, you have a whole world of chances at scaling it in the future.
College entrepreneurship gives you the freedom to make the mistakes now and refine your business efforts later. Perhaps when you have access to more funding, experience, and partners to work with, you’ll become the next big thing….
4. Financial freedom
Financial freedom – Isn’t this what we all want when we start our businesses?
Nobody wants to start a business as a hobby – I mean, maybe, but I doubt that’s your aim if you’re reading this.
Everybody wants to be able to not have to work for someone else.
Starting your own business in college gives you a better chance at early financial freedom.
If you want to be your own boss, you can achieve it by owning a business.
5. Lower risk
College is one of the best times to start a business.
If you’re starting a business in college, my guess is that you aren’t starting with a huge capital investment.
Guess what? That saves you a lot of risk too.
A huge investment doesn’t equal business success. You could start with a huge capital investment and still flop.
But you know what’s great?
You can start with a small investment and expand it into a huge success with low risk too. If you’re in college right now, this is the best time to start a business.
6. Easy to access customers
In college, it’s easier to access customers because you can start with other students around you.
If you’re running a business that students can patronize, then starting your business in a school is a great idea because you can easily reach out to people in school.
Remember, your end goal is to get good word-of-mouth reviews which will eventually lead to more publicity and even more customers from the general public.
How to come up with profitable business ideas in college
Coming up with suitable business ideas in college can be a challenge especially when you have a limited budget and experience.
Here are some ways to find profitable business ideas in college:
1. Your special skills and talents
Everyone is somewhat talented. Finding a business idea starts with looking within, into those things that you CAN do.
What are the things that people commend you for doing?
We often underestimate what we can do, but you can achieve so much by doing the things you love doing.
Take a moment to list out your skills or skills that you are interested in learning.
For example, if you enjoy photography, there are several business ideas that can result from that. You may be able to start a photo editing business, make an online course, start a blog, start a youtube channel, sell stock photos and so much more.
2. Take note of the common needs around you
There are always needs that you can play a part in fulfilling by starting a business that addresses those needs.
How do you find out what those needs are?
First you need to be attentive and current. Stay up-to-date with the news and industry trends.
Another great way to find ideas is to research and ask people around you. You can also run surveys online.
3. Keep track of trends and news
The only constant thing is change and things are always changing in our world.
Keeping track of every relevant change is impossible.
But… you can be aware of the most important changes which can become business opportunities.
Yes, many businesses are born out of chance but it doesn’t mean that many others aren’t discovered through an intentional search.
You can keep track of local and global trends through social media, print media, or even word-of-mouth.
The bottom line is – if you want to stand a better chance at finding awesome new ideas, keep your eyes on the news and recent trends.
4. Build something in line with your line of study
School stuff doesn’t have to be boring…
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I hope so.
You can transform your new knowledge into a business idea. There are several ways to do this. Here are a few:
- You could start a tutoring business for a specific subject or course – or even better, you could be a tutor for more than one course.
- If you don’t want to find yourself teaching all the time, you could do something else – create a paid bank of resources. I’m not implying that you should write a textbook. You could start by making an online course that explains concepts in a simplified way.
- Create a blog about your subject of study. Help people, answer questions and create a digital product that provides value.
10 Business Ideas for college students
Tutoring is an amazing business idea for college students.
It’s pretty simple – if you are good with a particular course or subject, you could offer tutoring services to people who need some extra help with the course.
Another dimension to this is teaching younger people – if you have sufficient energy, creativity and patience, this could be the perfect business idea for you.
2. YouTube Content Creation
If you’re not scared of the cameras, perhaps you should give this one a shot.
Having a Youtube page is awesome because it allows you to share video content – which is highly engaging by the way – to a targeted audience.
We all know that Youtube is a fun, highly scalable and monetizable platform too.
What’s great about YouTube is that it has a MASSIVE user base which makes it easier to reach target people after choosing a niche.
I don’t know if you ever heard these words “the riches are in the niches” – well, it’s true, especially for Youtube .
In all honesty, it can be hard to garner traffic to your page at first but if you stay resilient, consistent, and follow the right strategies, you will achieve your goals much sooner than later.
3. Graphic Designing
With many businesses being online, there is a growing need for graphic designers.
People need help designing logos, banners, and even social media posts.
As a graphic designer, there’s so much you can do.
From freelance graphic design work to Youtube content creation as a graphic designer.
You can even work with people in your local community or offer branding services.
Something awesome about being a graphic design youtuber is that you don’t have to be an expert.
You can document your journey and still provide value – you might be motivating others to get work done or to go into the graphic design space.
In summary, don’t underestimate yourself.
Yes, there are many graphic designers out there but your journey and perspective are unique.
4. Website Development
Thanks to the internet, you can learn literally anything online – including how to build stunning sites from ground up.
Building websites can often come with a lot of fun challenges.
If you love learning new things and solving problems, web development would make a great fit for you..
I know, there are several web dev tutorial videos on Youtube.
But trust me, many people wouldn’t mind paying someone else to build websites for them – I mean, not everyone finds challenges fun (especially the technical challenges that come with building a site) – there are people who would rather not go through the stress of building websites by themselves.
One great thing about building websites is that it allows you to be as creative as you want to be and you can learn a lot in the process while being paid.
One resistance that you might face is imposter syndrome.
At first, you might feel like you are not qualified enough to be paid for building sites for people.
DO NOT DO FREE WORK.
I mean, you can do a few free sites for family or friends, just to build a portfolio.
But in reality, you do not need a massive portfolio, I mean, 2-3 decent looking sites would make a great start before you start charging higher prices.
Just to make yourself a bit comfortable or to get into the flow of being paid for your services, you can start by charging a relatively smaller fee than your competitors and slowly increase your prices as you gain experience and positive reviews.
5. Grow and Sell Plants
Do you have a green thumb?
Good for you – almost all the plants I have ever nurtured are now dead 🙁
If gardening comes naturally to you, you can help people like me.
There are several ways you can leverage your ability to grow plants.
One thing you could do is that you can grow and sell cute plants to people interested in nurturing them.
You can also start a blog about gardening; documenting your journey and creating valuable (paid) resources for people interested in learning about gardening or sharpening their gardening skills.
Another thing that you can do is that you can start a gardening service where you help people nurture their plants – water them as often as needed and tend them from time to time.
Take it from me, many people love to have gardens but just don’t have the motivation or know-how to grow an awesome garden and you’ll be a gem to such people.
6. Social Media Content Creation
Social media is the leading way of building a strong brand identity and brand awareness.
If you are creative and have a bit of designing experience, you can build yourself a highly profitable content creation business.
You can start with a brand identity and graphics design crash course.
You’ll have to both be able to understand the goals and personality of the brand and create amazing designs and campaigns that effectively reflect the brand.
You can take two approaches to social media content creation.
- You might want to create content for several social media platforms OR
- You can specialize on one platform e.g. Instagram content creation.
Both options are awesome but which option you choose depends on how much time you have to spend working while in school and how comfortable you are with the different social media platforms.
7. Create an app
Everybody uses apps these days. All you need to do is to find a need and create something that can help people.
The good news is that in today’s world, you can do this very easily.
You don’t have to be the next Mark Zuckerberg to build a useful app.
Thankfully, there are several handy frameworks that you could use to build something that people need or that helps people.
Start by building an app that solves an immediate problem in your school or in your local community.
Doing it this way is much easier because it allows it to garner publicity through word-of-mouth.
8. Be a virtual assistant
Not everybody likes the boring office stuff.
But perhaps you don’t mind it.
Being a virtual assistant has a wide range of duties depending on the needs of your potential clients and the nature of the job.
You could find yourself filling out forms, typing out documents or answering calls.
The key to making this business idea an enjoyable and profitable one is flexibility.
To be an efficient and effective virtual assistant, you must be willing to learn new things quickly and to make frequent adjustments to your work style and processes.
Make this clear to the people that you’ll be potentially working with and they’ll be glad to work with you – I mean, who wouldn’t like a teachable and quick learning assistant? I sure would.
You can get started with this business idea by creating a portfolio website for your virtual assistant services or by creating a portfolio on any social media platform where you expect to find your dream clients.
Also, it’s a good idea to do some cold outreach to small businesses in your area – perhaps some of them might be interested in your services.
9. Start a blog
Do you have a skill to teach, a journey to document, or a special service to offer?
Then you can absolutely start a blog today – or tomorrow – after doing some more research.
Blogs are still a great way of reaching a wide audience although many people think they are fading off.
If you are camera-shy or don’t feel quite ready to show up on YouTube yet, blogging could be the perfect option for you because you only have to share your thoughts by writing.
First, you need to choose a niche that has a good profit making potential.
Yes, passion is important, but remember that you’re not blogging as a hobby, but as a way to make some money.
Right from the onset, you should have a solid plan and clear goals for your blog.
What will you blog about? How often will you post? What is your monetization plan?
A lot goes into running a successful blog but as long as you are willing to put in the work and stay consistent until you see good results, you are good to go.
Honestly, I feel kind of bad writing this because over the past few months, I’ve been anything but consistent.
What I’ve realized though is that I’ve never given up.
If you’re in it for the long haul, make sure you have enough passion for blogging to keep you motivated to get back to work even when you don’t feel like it.
Most importantly, always remember your end goal.
10. Interior Decoration
Everybody loves a good looking, cozy space.
If you’re good at organizing and decorating living spaces, then you should give interior decoration a shot.
What’s fun about interior decoration is that it doesn’t have to be monotonous – different people have different tastes, and this gives you room to explore.
These days, minimal designs are becoming very popular. More people are focused on decluttering, simple decorations, plain colors – and plants (I haven’t had a lot of luck with my plant babies).
Interior decoration is awesome because most of the clients you’ll meet already know what decorations they want.
All you’ll need to do is implement their designs – you don’t have to think of new designs from scratch (pretty cool right?).
If you have a lot of creative energy, you could start a youtube interior decoration channel as a portfolio to advertise your business and to get passive income from ads or other methods of your choice.
Starting a business often seems overwhelming especially for college students and it’s very understandable.
However, the limitations which you may think you have can be overcome easily by choosing the right business idea.
Revisit these 10 business ideas and think about them properly before deciding to go ahead with any of them.
I’m so proud of you for reading to the end – you are dedicated to your success and I believe without a doubt that you will achieve it.
See you in the next post. Love you all 🙂
(Side note: I’m working on releasing blog posts every week but if you don’t want to miss them by ANY chance, then click on the red bell icon and subscribe to get notified when I release new blog posts.)
Esther Alu, the Founder of TheAceBusiness.com is an entrepreneur who writes step-by-step guides for starting several business ideas. She is constantly learning and discovering effective ways to help her readers launch and grow successful businesses.