Are you looking to start a business while still a student? I know it can be tough with school and everything else you may have going on. That’s why we have put together our list of the best ways on how to start a business as a student. More than likely, you’re on this page because you want to start a successful business. As a student, this is often easier said than done. But it’s certainly not impossible!
To start a business as a student, the following steps are quintessential to the process:
- Identify and list out the things you have time and energy for
- Give yourself a budget
- Research options and opportunities in your school
- Develop a business plan
- Use digital tools
- Make your business part of your studies
- Find a balance between school and work
Starting a business while you’re a student is a great idea. It can be a good way to earn cash, and gain valuable experience and it’s something to put on your CV. But launching your own startup isn’t easy. There are lots of challenges you’ll face and lots of things you need to think about before you do it. I’d recommend spending some time reading this guide first so that you know what you’ll need to do after reading this guide.
How to Start a Business as a Student
If you are a student, you can start a business and earn some income to complement your finances. This guide will show you how to start a business even as a student in college.
Identify and List out the Things You Have Time and Energy For
It is never too early to start your entrepreneurial journey. Since you are a student, you are probably thinking about how you can manage your time and still scale a business. I had this struggle as a student entrepreneur and I know what it is and what it can do to your desire to start a business as a student. The first thing to do as an aspiring student entrepreneur is to identify and list out the things you can do that would not hinder your studies.
You can be a student and start a business that would not be detrimental to your studies. All you need to do is to discover a business model and structure that you can comfortably operate at your convenience that does not affect your education. This step is quintessential, and it is a determinant of whether you can start a business as a student.
There are several startup ideas for students which have been published online but I prefer the publication of Purity Muriuki. In her post, Startup Ideas for Students, Purity explained 100 business ideas to start a business as a student. From her list, I have a couple of picks that you should consider when identifying and listing things you can do as a student.
22 Unique Business Ideas for Students
- Create a YouTube channel
- Cryptocurrency trading
- Content marketing
- Domain flipping
- Dog walking
- Event planning
- eBay trading
- Laundry services
- House sitting
- Social media management
- UI/UX design
- Website flipping
- Web design and management
This list presents very excellent prospects for starting a business as a student. If you want to access the full list of these unique business ideas for students, you can read the main post HERE. However, being a student, I know what is obtainable, and I have compiled the list above to highlight the best options you have as a student looking to start a business.
If you have baking skills, you can do well with this business idea. It will even make sense if you find baking a hobby. Starting a baking business would essentially be about turning your hobby into a lucrative venture. You can bake a lot of great stuff and sell them to your friends and people in your neighborhood.
Blogging is another lovely enterprise you can undertake as a student. As a blogger, you can make publications about the things you love and enjoy passive income from Google Adsense, Amazon Affiliates, AdThrive, Mediavine, and other advertising and affiliate platforms.
Create a YouTube Channel
YouTube is a cool way to make money even as a student. There are over 2.1 billion users on YouTube and on users earn an average of $18 per 1,000 ad views. As long as you have great content to share YouTube is a goldmine to tap from and you can run this business model even as a student.
Cryptocurrency trading is a global trend that has turned thousands into millionaires. As a crypto trader, you only need to buy cryptocurrency at a lower price and sell them via an exchange for a higher price. There are a couple of risk factors associated with cryptocurrency trading but when you master the art, you could fare well. It is important to understand how cryptocurrency works and risk management.
Businesses around the world and in the United States are increasingly in need of content marketing strategies. Content marketing involves the creation and sharing of online material such as blog posts, videos, and social media posts to promote a brand, product, or service. There are tons of content marketing courses to help you master the art of content marketing.
HubSpot and Coursera are top resources to learn content marketing and build a brand. The average pay of a content marketer is around $45,000 to $140,000. Imagine earning that salary range as a student even without having to register your business. You only need a lead generation strategy which is why you have these courses.
Domain flipping is the process of purchasing a domain name and then reselling it at a higher cost. The profit margin can be very significant, depending on the desirability of the domain. As a student, this business model does not require any registration or tax ID. You can begin this business from the comfort of your mobile device and personal computer.
You can buy a domain for tens of dollars and sell it for thousands of dollars. Sometimes, you make more money by buying the domain on one platform and selling it on another.
If you are a pet person, you can render dog walking services to people in your neighborhood and earn some money. According to a post on Homeguide, 2022 Dog Walking Rates, dog walkers charge an average of $0.50 to $1.00 per minute. This means an average 20-minute walk will cost $10 to $20, while a longer 30-minute walk will run $15 to $30.
Spending two hours of your day offering dog walking services can earn you about $60 to $120 depending on your agreement with the family or individual you are helping to walk their dog. You can plan your work hours and frequency to suit your study life.
Dropshipping is an e-commerce business model where the store does not own any products and does not have to store or ship anything. In essence, dropshipping is all about marketing products produced by someone else and having the manufacturer send the goods to the persons who place orders. With dropshipping, you can sell goods and not own them and also not worry about delivering them to customers.
Statista shared that the estimated value of the market for dropshipping e-commerce was 128.6 billion U.S. dollars globally. The database company published that between 2021 and 2026, the value of the market size will grow to 476.1 billion U.S. dollars.
For a concise understanding of how dropshipping works, Milvestor has published an interesting read on How to Start a Dropshipping Business.
If you have skills in organizing events, then you can become an event planner. As a student, you can begin by planning the birthdays of your mates, friends, and siblings. Moving on, you can plan parties, social nights, and more. That way you can hone your skills, network, and grow your business to other places outside your school environment.
eBay is a good forum for vendors to sell their products, and budding entrepreneurs can easily make an online business from trading on the platform. You can buy bulk household items cheaply to resell on eBay; however, many people have begun making and selling their own crafted products online. These endeavors range from handmade jewelry like necklaces and bracelets to crocheted items.
As a student, I made so much money as a freelancer. Freelancing involves selling services to multiple clients for money. You can make thousands of dollars as a freelancer, selling your skills. From content writing to graphics design to voiceovers to web design to SEO and much more, freelancing is your best shot at making quick money.
There are various platforms where you can sell your skills as a freelancer. You can try Fiverr, Upwork, 99designs, SimplyHired, Freelancer.com, Guru.com, LinkedIn, TaskRabbit.com, Behance, People Per Hour among others.
Ghostwriting is the process of writing an article that would not be published in your name. As a ghostwriter, you get to write stuff that would be published without due credit given to you. You can be hired to write a press release for a news site or a publication for a blog that would be published in the blog owner’s name.
Ghostwriters earn around $50 to $150 per hour on various freelancing platforms like the ones I listed above.
My friends used laundry and dry cleaning services to see themselves through college. As a student, you know how we hate to do our laundry. I have not done the laundry myself for some years now as I prefer to outsource my laundry to laundrymen. Since you are a student with students around you, there is a waiting market for your laundry services.
To start a laundry business, you can begin by washing, drying, and ironing clothes for your fellow students. This will allow you to gain experience in the field and generate revenue. Next, upgrade your business by targeting busy parents and professionals. You can design flyers that advertise your services, hire more people to help you with delivering clothes, and soon you will have a more professional company with all the equipment you need.
In areas with a lot of insecurity, people often cannot leave their homes empty when they go on vacation. Some have animals, flowers, and other plants that need to be tended to during their absence. This is where you come in as someone that provides house-sitting services. You will be paid to water the plants, feed pets, clean up the house, and do any other repair work that may be necessary while they are away.
Your client should mostly be among families that stay around your school’s vicinity.
Hairdressing is another great business idea for students. If you have hairdressing skills, you can start cutting the hair of your fellow students, charging a reasonable fee. You can sharpen your skills by watching videos on YouTube. The business can be practiced at your convenience and you can strike an agreement that is comfortable for you and your client.
Your school organizes several gatherings throughout the college years. The influential and rich kids host parties almost every Saturday night. What this suggests is that ladies will always want to wear makeup week-in, week-out. You can charge anything around $20 to $30 every time you make someone up. With time, you can grow in influence on campus and charge more when your skills get sharpened.
Social Media Management
Social media management as the name implies involves managing social media pages. As a social media manager, you are expected to understand a brand’s audience, create content tailored to meet their needs, engage them, monitor online conversations, and much more. It is quite a lucrative venture and you can practice it even as a student.
If you are a smart ass, you can pull this business model off. People are looking for someone to teach them Math, English, Art, Music, and much more. If you are skilled in the aforementioned areas, you can find people looking for your skills to help them learn. You can print leaflets and designs to let people know you are available to tutor them for a fee.
This is a business model you can try out if you have the skill. User interface (UI) design is the design of aesthetic elements such as buttons, icons, menu bars, typography, colors, and more while user experience (UX) design is the experience a user has when interacting with a product or service. This is an important skill-set in today’s digital world and you can earn cool cash as a UI/UX designer.
Videography presents a wide range of opportunities even as a student. You can start shooting videos for your friends that are musicians or dancers. You can even partner with YouTubers or people looking to create video content. Furthermore, you can be paid to record birthdays, weddings, and other events. It does not cost much to sharpen your skills as a videographer.
Like domain flipping, website flipping is another great way to make money as a student in the United States. You can build websites with brandable domain names, great content, and proper search engine optimization to flip it. While it takes time to build a website, the reward for selling an already built website is gratifying.
Web Design and Management
If you have web design and management skills, you can try this business model. People, businesses, and organizations are looking for people to help them design and manage their web pages. If your portfolio looks great, you can be hired to design websites or manage them. It is quite a lucrative venture.
The explanation I provided was in a bid to help you understand the several business ideas that are available to you as a student. Remember, the goal is to identify and list out things that you would have the time and energy for. You cannot be a student and try to start your restaurant business or a slaughterhouse business.
If you take a close look at the business ideas for students that I have highlighted, you would discover that they are business models that would not interfere with your studies. While I want you to succeed at starting your business, I also want you to excel academically.
The first step in how to start a business as a student is to discover what you have time for. As a student, I juggled my way through college as a freelancer and my grades were good (like, really good.)
How to Start a Business as a Student (Step-By-Step Guide)
The following are ways you can set up your business as a student. There are tens of freelancing opportunities for you as a student but you should be careful in your choice of a business path. The following are steps to start a business as a student:
Get Yourself a Budget
The next step on how to start a business as a student is to give yourself a budget, and some sort of initial investment capital to get your business running. After identifying the business model that works best for you, the next thing to consider is finance and funding for your startup. This is quintessential as it can help you decide whether a business idea is suitable for you.
You must ensure that whatever money you plan on using to invest in your business will not affect your ability to pay rent, buy food, get school essentials, and so on. The budget for starting a business as a student should not be much. Looking at the business ideas I outlined above, you would agree with me that startup costs should not be over-the-roof since we are not going large scale at the moment.
Research Options and Opportunities in your School
An integral aspect of how to start a business as a student is to identify options and opportunities that are lurking in your environment. Your business should be something you can do within the school or in its environment. Studying in Los Angeles and setting up a business in San Diego is not a great scenario as a student. Hence, you need to research options and opportunities that are around you.
The truth is that there are hundreds of opportunities to start, grow, and build a sustainable business. Even in the most competitive spaces, you only need to discover an angle. This step is very important to set up a profitable business as a student.
During your research, you can take surveys asking students the services they would like to be served. You can pay close attention to your neighborhood’s needs and challenges. What you are doing in this step is to identify problems students and families face that you can provide solutions to, and earn a profit, such that your academics will not be affected.
This point on how to start a business as a student is almost like the previous one. The only difference is that it involves meeting people and systems that can aid the starting of your business rather than offering surveys or having interviews. In networking, you are building a relationship with your potential customers and people who can help you start your business.
When I wanted to start freelancing on Fiverr, I shared my jobs with a couple of people who shared it to my potential clients. That what it. I made six figures as a student with the proper network. You can talk to other people in your classes and find out what they need or want. You can also talk to people in your dorm or apartment complex about things they would like to see on campus.
By doing this, you properly understand your market, the service delivery they desire, and how your business will be structured. If your school has some sort of entrepreneurship body, that is another way to network.
Develop a Business Plan
Even though your business as a student will not require a formal business registration, you would need a business plan. A business plan is a written document where a business owner documents in detail the objectives, goals, and mission of the business and how the startup hopes to achieve them. It is a roadmap that shows what the business would be about and the value it would provide.
There are several business plan templates you can find online or you can meet someone skilled in business plan writing to help you draft a simple setup based on the ideas in your head.
Use Digital Tools
The best part of technological advancement in my opinion is that digital tools now make everything easy and simple. Starting a business and relying on manual means of lead generation, promotion, service delivery, and more can be limiting. You should use digital tools to help you operate your business. It will save you time and allow you to be productive.
Every business idea has a point where digital tools can make up for manual work. I use a lot of tools as a writer to make my writing look and sound better from Grammarly to ProWritingAid to Hemmingway and so on. When you are settled on the business you would like to have, identify digital tools that can aid your work.
Make Your Business Part of your Studies
In my case as a student entrepreneur, I was greatly limited because I did not adhere to this point. I am a computer science student and I had to write press releases and blog posts on finance, cryptocurrency, and other things that were completely unrelated to my course of study. I had to do a lot of concentration and work to maintain a balance.
You would not have to go through that stress if you make your business part of your studies. How? It is simple. If you are studying food nutrition, for example, it would be easy for you to incorporate your academics into your baking business and do well in it. You can serve the best snack based on the things you learn in school. It would even offer you the opportunity to get insights and feedback from your classmates and lecturers.
Another example using myself, if I had started a web design business, it would have been easy for me to see that much of what computer science is about is programming and web design. One of the benefits of making your business part of your studies is that it would not look like work but an extension of your academic activities which brings you income.
Find a Balance between School and Work
I understand your desire to make money but you need to find a balance between your school and work. Maintaining good grades in college is difficult and adding the burden of running a business makes it quite a challenge. It is important to choose a business model or idea that will not be extremely demanding on you as a student.
Map out time for your business and school work. Ensure you are placing them in order of priority and be religious in your approach to it.
FAQs on How to Start a Business as a Student
What business should I start as a student?
There are a handful of businesses to start as a student. In deciding what business to start as a student, you would need to identify ideas that will afford you the time to focus on your studies. You can start the following business types:
- Create a YouTube channel
- Cryptocurrency trading
- Content marketing
- Domain flipping
- Dog walking
- Event planning
- eBay trading
Can students start their own business?
Yes. students can start their own businesses. There are no restrictions or implications of running a business as a student. If you are considering starting a side hustle as a student, look for something you can do conveniently and go all in.
What can I sell as a student to make money?
There are lots of things you can sell as a student to make money. They include:
- Your skills such as photography, videography, creative writing, graphics design, and so on
- Your time such as dog walking, pet sitting, house sitting, etc.
- Selling stuff on Craiglist and eBay
- Sell crafts on Etsy
Final Thoughts on How to Start a Business as a Student
Starting a business as a student is difficult, but it is not impossible. There are plenty of ways to approach the challenge as well, whether you want to start an online business or launch an on-campus idea. The key principles are similar in either case: be passionate about what you’re doing, don’t give up too easily, treat the business like a part-time job, and maintain your perspective on what’s most important.
That is how to start a business as a student. If you have other ideas, I’d like to know them. Kindly share them in the comment section below.