18 Business Ideas for College Students – Small Business Trends

College is a time for learning and growing. However, many students can benefit from some extra money. Starting a business can also expand opportunities and help university students put their new knowledge to use right away. Here are some ideas to consider if you’re looking for college business opportunities.

Why Should College Students Start a Business?

If you’re a college student, here are some benefits you can obtain by starting your own business:

  • Earn extra money: What college student couldn’t earn extra money? Starting a business can help you cover tuition, books, or living expenses. With a particularly profitable business idea, you could even save serious money for graduation when you’re on your own.
  • Get a head start on your career: Many people start their careers once they’ve graduated from college. But if your dream is to start a business, jumping into entrepreneurship during college means you’re even closer to your goals upon graduating.
  • Build an impressive resume: If you’re interested in a more traditional career path, acting on startup ideas during college still holds many benefits. Potential employers may notice your ambition, creativity, and leadership, giving you a better chance of scoring your dream job.
  • Take advantage of networking opportunities: You have access to lots of help while in school, from other students and teachers to business centers and student organizations. Connect with others who have connections to your industry to share ideas or partner on a new venture.
  • Start in a low-risk environment: Many college students have loans or parental assistance covering living expenses during college. Once you graduate, you may have extra expenses, a mortgage, or a family that makes you risk-averse. Starting young allows you to really jump in without doing any major harm to your future.

Read more: A College Student’s Guide to Launching a Startup
There are many startup business ideas you can run in your college town. If you’re looking to serve others in person as a university student, here are some small business options.

1. Tutoring Business

If you excel in a particular subject, help your fellow students as a tutor. You can charge for individual sessions or offer ongoing plans. You can even help high school students in your area.

2. Cleaning Business

If you want a business that’s straightforward and always in demand, purchase some cleaning supplies and offer cleaning services to local homeowners and/or businesses throughout your area.

3. Essay Writing

For those with strong writing skills, offer writing services to other students. Offering finished essays may be against school rules, so consider offering templates or basic versions that students can edit on their own. You might also provide essay editing services for a small fee.
If you have a car or bicycle, offer to deliver food, groceries, or various goods around campus or town. You can partner with a delivery app or just post signs with your contact info to do this on your own.

5. Plan Local Events

If you love organizing and working with vendors, offer event planning services for local businesses and individuals. Much of the work can be done remotely, and you can use your weekends off to attend events and make sure everything runs smoothly.

6. Personal Trainer

If you love fitness, work with other students or individuals in your area as a personal trainer. Either partner with a local gym or go directly to your clients to offer tailored workouts and health tips.

7. Photography Business

If you have a nice camera and some editing equipment, offer photography services for local events or portraits. Some photographers also earn money selling prints online or digital files on stock photo sites.

8. Food Delivery Services

If you want to specialize in food delivery, work with local restaurants that don’t currently offer delivery. Contract with them or simply offer to pick up food for customers and charge them a fee for each delivery.
Athletically inclined college students may contract with local schools to coach. You could also work with student-athletes individually as a private coach.

10. Pet Sitting Business

If you love animals, offer your services to local pet owners, watching their dogs and cats at their homes when they travel.

Online Business Ideas for College Students

Online small businesses often allow college students to serve a niche market for a low initial investment. Here are some opportunities to consider if you’d like to start a business online.

11. Develop Online Courses

Online courses generally provide video, audio, and/or written expertise on a specific subject. You can teach courses in live sessions, or offer them as evergreen content that students purchase and work through at their own pace.
With some tech expertise, create a social network for your school or a particular interest group. You can charge a fee for people to use social media pages or just earn money through advertising.

13. Web Design

Another tech-heavy business, offer website development and design services to local businesses or individuals. Charge an hourly rate or by the project.

14. Sell Online

Create your own online store on a marketplace site, or build your own from scratch. Store inventory in your dorm room or use a fulfillment or print-on-demand service to simplify operations.

15. App Developer

Create your own app that you can charge a small fee for or offer add-on purchases to monetize. Such an app will need to offer enough value for people to actually pay. Alternatively, offer your services to other businesses on a contractual basis.

16. Market Research

Offer research services to companies in exchange for a fee. This may involve completing surveys, focus groups, or use studies.
If you speak more than one language, translate content for other companies or organizations.

18. Transcription Services

You could also transfer audio or video content to a written form. This service is often used at meetings or for files like podcasts.

What Business Idea is Best for College Students?

The best college business ideas vary based on each student’s skills and goals. However, some options that can be both fun and profitable include web design, managing social media platforms, tutoring younger students, and running a writing service.
Read more: Small Business Ideas for Beginners

What Business is Most Profitable for Students?

The profitability of a student business idea can vary widely based on the market, business plan, and startup costs. However, online businesses tend to be inexpensive to start, and thus can be quite profitable. Popular ideas include digital marketing, graphic design, and running a YouTube channel.
Image: Envato Elements

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