Most college students are usually broke, or at least close to broke. Given the precipitous rise in tuition every year, a shared sense of fiscal dread permeates college campuses. There is seemingly no way out of this dreary cycle. Perhaps not until you graduate and land the job you wanted, which might be why you went to college in the first place. But, you might ask, what about fun? What about those elusive tales middle-age adults tell you about how some of the best days of their lives were in college?
Everyone says that college is a time you will never get back, so don’t forget to enjoy it. Unfortunately, we live in an environment of rising costs, and fewer jobs. This makes it increasingly difficult to have any spare money to relax a little, a critical factor for longterm health. I suppose I have painted a rather bleak picture for you readers. Well, this is where it gets better. While it is true that our lives are only getting more expensive, we also live in the age of innovation! Plus, we have the internet.
So, enough with the gloom! There are multiple, reasonable, ways to break out of your financial impediments. Online jobs is one example of a totally manageable option. For more details, you can check out a blog post we recently did on online jobs. Another great avenue is entrepreneurship! A lot of college students have started launching their own businesses to help ease their financial burdens. Despite what your initial reaction might be, starting a business in college is doable even with the typical hectic student lifestyle. There are several business ideas that don’t require stressful amounts of your time. Of course, most of these startups are also low cost.
Why Start Your Own Business?
Starting your own business is a practical idea for a number of reasons. Firstly, it will help you earn an extra buck so you can have some of that “elusive fun” I was referring to earlier. More importantly, starting your own business will give you instrumental and invaluable experience in the business world. The sort of insight that can only be learned through the process of doing it yourself. And finally, starting a business will seriously limit your debt liability.
As a college student, you are exposed to a ton of indispensable resources on campus. This gives you an upper hand, so take full advantage of what is around you. Talking to your professors is a good start, and of course, consulting with them as you go. If your campus has marketing opportunities, maybe a club, utilise this tool to your benefit. Now it looks like being a student might actually be in your favour. So, to help you get started, below are a few tips on how to begin, followed by some low-cost business ideas tailored to college students.
Where Do I Begin?
Finding the right idea can be difficult. For now, don’t worry about being unique. You low-cost business serves a different purpose. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
1. Research, Research, Research: Find out what people are looking for. How can you meet their needs or wants? What obstacles might you face?
2. What Can You Do: Is there some skill or service you can provide, or something you can make or create, that people would benefit from? This also involves looking into the talent, skill, and uniqueness you possess.
3. Start With What You love: Fairly straightforward. What do you enjoy doing most? Tie that into where you start!
4. Think About the Future: This isn’t a necessary step, but if you can then try to find an idea that will help you with your future goals, and your education as well.
Some Low-Cost Business Ideas
“Enough!” you say, “give me the ideas already!” So, here are a few business ideas that might prove useful to you.
Any good entrepreneur knows that your business must reflect your unique skill set. Well, if you’re really good at school then you can start offering after hour tutoring sessions. Consider looking into your area(s) of expertise, and then lend a helping hand. I’m sure there’s a good number of students looking for reasonably priced tutors that don’t overlap with their class hours. You could also offer special packages, like overtime tutoring for exam cramming. Make some cool posters and fliers that you could put up in libraries, and classes. Distribute them to your friends as well!
Once you gain traction, you can broaden your customer base! Social media, the glaringly obvious outlet you should use to advertise your awesome services. Maybe you could even start tutoring younger students. And soon, you can start asking for referrals from people you’ve tutored successfully! Plus, almost all of you income will be profit. Think about it, other than potential transportation costs, what else would you spend on for this business? Maybe a little on posters and such, but that’s not an ongoing expense. All you need is your brain.
For more information and steps on how to start a tutoring business, follow the link!
This could be a really fun adventure! Podcasting is majorly popular right now, and it’s an easy way to reach a lot of people. Of course, starting your own podcast does require some planning. So, you’ll want to make sure that your podcast topic is something that you are interested in, and something you think is of value.
There is a lot of room to get creative with this business idea. Getting a friend aboard to become your co-host sounds like a really enjoyable way to spend your time. I found a great site that takes you through the process of starting a podcast step-by-step. Here is the link!
3. Selling Homemade Products Online:
For someone crafty and creative, who enjoys making things, this is a good way to transform your skills into a potentially lucrative business. It also gives you the ability to create your own style, and move onto establishing your brand type.
Etsy is an excellent example of an e-commerce platform. For those who have not heard of Etsy, well Etsy is an online marketplace tailored to sell unique items. This could be pretty much anything. You can sell greeting cards, candles, bath bombs, clothes, jewellery…You only have to check one of the following criteria to start selling,
- Your items must be handmade
- Your items must be vintage (more than 20 years old)
- Your item must be a craft supply
Etsy currently has over 1.7 million sellers and 28.6 million buyers. Looks like you already have a customer base so you can say goodbye to any customer acquisition costs you were thinking of. Do your research and figure out what people want, and then you can get to the fun creative part. Follow this link for some more information, including insider tips from seasoned Etsy sellers, to help you out. You can definitely make good money by selling on Etsy.
4. Depop seller:
I found this little hidden gem of an idea and thought I should put it in. Depop is basically a platform where you can sell all the clothes you were going to throw out. The platform is safe and looks an easy little side hustle you could take up pretty quickly.
Whether you’re in Tech, marketing, advertising or you’re a creative major, you can get your career started early by offering services to local shops and businesses. Writers and art majors can offer design or copy services to create marketing materials for locals.
You can start by creating a webpage, and separate social media profiles that highlight your skills. You can then reach out to local businesses to offer services ranging from social media management, to blog writing, to logo design, to AdWords management and more.
You could also want to consider affiliate marketing, in which businesses offer commission for word-of-mouth and online leads or sales. A recent StuCred blog post about online jobs talks about the Amazon affiliate program in more detail. Other sites include Commission Junction, LinkShare, and ShareASale. There are also a number of creative marketplaces that you could use, like Fiverr and Gumroad. You could use these to sell designs, recipes, music, and much more. So, Etsy did fit your skill sets, platforms like these ones might!
6. Event organizer/promoter
I’m sure you’ve noticed a huge amount of college students getting caught up their social scenes. Well, if you’re looking to start a new little business, start thinking like a businessman/woman. You can totally capitalize on this!
Find the right people to work with and remember that communication is key. On top of exceptional communication skills, having organizational skills as well as a grasp on the fundamentals of business, marketing and finance are necessary as an event organizer. So this would be a good time to go make use of all the resources around you!
For those who don’t know what upcycling is, upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value. Look around in charity shops, and on sites like Gumtree and Freecycle, for stuff, you can upcycle and sell on for a profit. This might also be a cool new way to do some good for the environment. In turn, an environmental cause could serve as a good marketing strategy.
8. Sell E/Audio Books
As you probably know, E-Books (electronic books) are books in soft copy form that can be downloaded online from any part of the world. Make and sell audio or e-book versions of out-of-copyright set texts, particularly if they’re hard to find. This is another easy way you can make money as a college student! There are so many different subjects that you can write about and of course, there will be a ready market for at least one. One easy example of making money through the sale of eBooks is to start writing self – help or books on ‘How To’. For example, if you are good with graphics, you can write a book on ‘How to create your own logo’ there are loads of people out there that will be willing to pay for such book. You could then advertise this as a service you’re willing to provide on sites like Fivver or Gigbucks
EBooks are also cheap to make. From the sale of one eBook, you can continue to generate incomes as long as the information that it contains remains fairly valid and useful. While we’re on the topic of selling books, you could also consider selling used books! I’m sure college students are looking for one textbook or another.
There are some great freelancing opportunities out there that cater to a ton of different skill sets. So, whether you’re a writer, graphic designer, or content creator, you will find something in this department. Freelancing is great because you can spend as little, or as much time as you want on projects of your choosing. It is also a great way to get your name out there.
Upwork is a good example of a freelance work platform. It is essentially a global freelancing platform, one of the largest out there. This cloud-based platform is designed to help employers from any industry find talented people with skills in fields like programming, designing, writing, customer support, and more. There are ton more out there like Upwork. Once your skill gains traction, you can branch-off into your niche. Moving forward, you could then specialise in what services you offer.
10. Start a Niche Blog
Starting a Niche Blog can be very rewarding and is definitely a low cost. Just like with the podcast, find something that you are passionate about and start writing and creating content! As your audience begins to grow, you could then build on affiliate marketing and double up. If you want some more tips on how to go about starting your own blog, follow this link.
For a bunch of more cool low business ideas for college students, check out this website. I hope this article was helpful in getting you started. Best of luck with your new business!
Got your business running but still need a little extra help your tuition? Download StuCred for real-time, interest-free, student loans!
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