What do Microsoft, Dell, Napster and Facebook all have in common? Aside from being among some of the most market-shaking companies of the last quarter century, they were all also created by college students.
Sure, not everyone can be the next Mark Zuckerberg, but starting a small business while in college is definitely possible. There are several options that require little to no startup capital and can be done without an office space. Entrepreneurship in college can help make valuable connections while also generating some income to cover tuition, meals and those very expensive textbooks.
Here are 10 ideas for starting a business from the comfort of your own dorm room.
1. Information technology (IT) consulting
Information technology is one field where having years of experience can actually work against you. College students typically have the freshest skills in this area and knowledge of the newest technologies. If you don’t feel confident promoting yourself as an IT consultant to businesses, put the word out on campus that you’re available to help the less tech-savvy majors with their computer issues, and build from there.
2. Social media consulting
College students are often on the cutting edge of social-media trends. Use this knowledge and experience to advise companies on their social-media strategy. Take them beyond Facebook and LinkedIn, and introduce them to new channels to get their messages out.
3. Graphic design
Graphic design consulting relies more on creativity and talent than years of experience. Design majors should grab a portfolio of their best projects from class, print off some impressive looking business cards or feature them on a website, and get started.
4. Website design
Students are much more exposed to designing websites than ever before. Many have done so for a campus group or club, a fellow student or just a personal blog. Those sites can be used as samples and leveraged in order to branch out to designing websites for a profit.
Thanks to platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, the world has become more accustomed to using images to communicate. With a rise in the need for visual content, there has also been growing sense of comfort with using amateur photographers. Due to advancements in technology, these amateurs have the ability to churn out high-quality work.
6. Event planning
College students have probably attended their fair share of parties, but putting that party experience to good use is another story. Event planning requires attention to detail, organization, the ability to multitask and creativity. If equipped to handle the job, start a business around campus and become the go-to source for planning campus group or club activities. It’s important to note that taking your business outside of school may require special certification.
7. Personal trainer
Personal trainers have flexible hours and can conduct workouts almost anywhere. Personal training can oftentimes require a certification through an organization such as ACE, but meeting the requirements, such as taking a certification exam and passing CPR/AED courses, may be easier than you think.
8. Cleaning services
Starting a cleaning business allows students to work flexible hours and doesn’t require an office. Not to mention, supplies needed for this business can be purchased at your local grocery store. Many people are willing to pay someone else to do a dirty job. A gold mine for the cleaning business lies within fraternity or sorority houses the day after a big game.
9. Freelance makeup artist
According to Federal data, women have outnumbered men in American colleges for nearly 35 years. This provides the perfect opportunity to start a small business geared towards the female demographic. Freelance makeup artists can generate revenue in the traditional sense of applying makeup to customers ahead of special occasions. Alternately, one of the newest ways to make money is by providing tutorial videos on social media. Great content that attracts a high number of viewers can turn into YouTube sponsorship dollars.
10. Landscaping / snow removal
Landscaping and snow removal services are great seasonal businesses that can carry over vacation breaks and throughout the semester. Armed with a shovel, garden store equipment and some sturdy boots, students living off-campus or local residents could become very lucrative clients.
Even if a business is started by a student while in college, it’s still a real business, with real rewards and risks. No matter what the business or size of the company, it’s important to have insurance protection. Things like specialized IT consultant insurance or a more general professional liability policy will help a company stay out of trouble if anything goes wrong. The bottom line is that college entrepreneurship can be a great way to earn some money as well as pave the way for continued career success after graduation.