5 Small Business Ideas for College Students (With Tips for Each)


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The college years are a time to grow and expand your academic and professional horizons. For many students, this means starting or running their own small business.

Starting a business is an exciting opportunity for college students to hone their entrepreneurial skills while making some extra money. It can also be a great way to gain experience in the real world and build professional networks that will serve you well after graduation.

However, choosing the right type of business for you is important–one that fits your interests, goals, skillset, resources available, and even location. 

To help get you started on finding the perfect venture, we have compiled a list of eight small business ideas suitable for college students, along with tips on each one so you can make an informed decision about which one might be best suited for you!

1. Start a Virtual Assistant Business

If you enjoy helping others with administrative tasks, starting a business like this may be the perfect option. 

You can work as a virtual assistant and assist busy professionals, entrepreneurs, and small businesses with their daily tasks from a remote location. 

These tasks may include scheduling appointments, managing emails and social media accounts, and creating presentations. All you need to work as a virtual assistant is a laptop and internet access.

2. Create an Online Store

For those looking to sell goods, starting an online store is a great way to make some extra money while in college. With the right platform and tools, you can create your own store without any technical knowledge or expertise. 

Many platforms even offer templates so you can easily create an attractive website with minimal design knowledge. You can either source products to sell or create your own, such as digital downloads, handmade crafts, or printed items like mugs and t-shirts.

3. Begin Freelance Writing

Do you have a knack for writing? If so, consider starting a freelance writing business. With the internet and access to clients all over the world, freelance writing has become a great business for college students. 

Depending on what interests you most, you can specialize in blogging, copywriting, or even ghostwriting. Additionally, if your work is good there’s often potential for long-term projects and potentially higher pay.

4. Start an Affiliate Marketing Business 

Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money online without creating or selling any products. All you need to do is promote other people’s products and services on your blog or website and earn a commission when someone makes a purchase. 

This can be an easy way to earn extra income while in college, as long as you have some knowledge of digital marketing and can attract a decent amount of traffic to your website. Affiliate marketing is how many social media influencers get their start.

5. Drive

When you think “drive”, your mind may go to Uber or Lyft. While these are great sources of secondary income, there is more to this than you think. You can also drive for Doordash, another food delivery service, or Instacart, a grocery delivery business.

How to make money as a driver is about networking. You never know who you’ll meet. So attack this kind of gig work with an entrepreneurial mindset and use it as an excuse to network. An Uber gig today can turn into a legitimate concierge or courier service tomorrow.

Use today to prepare for tomorrow. Educate yourself on the best vehicles to use, the best insurance to get, and the best resources available for such a job. Look for a route planner with free unlimited stops, find the best deals on gas cards, etc…

The Bottom Line

Starting a small business is an excellent way for college students to make extra money while in school. 

Plenty of options are available, from creating digital products and freelance writing to affiliate marketing and event planning. 

You can create your own profitable business that fits your student lifestyle.

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