We won’t lie to you. Starting a business in college is pretty difficult. If you’re juggling a full courseload, it’s almost impossible. Running a business requires strong time management skills, focus, funding, and acceptance of failure. That said, it’s still doable. If you’ve always dreamed of working for yourself, here are 10 low-risk small business ideas you can start easily in college.
1. Dropshipping (Print-On-Demand)
Dropshipping is a product-based business model in which you, the businessowner, have someone else, usually a third-party supplier or manufacturer, make, package, and ship your products directly to your customers. If you work with a print-on-demand company, you only pay for the products customers order. There’s no need to hold inventory or have your own production facility, which is why POD is a relatively low-risk, cost-effective way to start selling products.
If you’re looking to build your own custom brand, you should seek out companies that offer white label services. White label branding is when a product is packaged under your brand name and shipped to the end consumer without their knowing any third party was involved.
With everything else taken care of, you can sit back and focus on marketing your brand (and studying, of course!).
2. Freelance Writer
If you have strong writing skills, try your hand at freelance writing. Plenty of businesses hire out contract writers to create and edit content for their websites. There are tons of freelance writing gig opportunities to choose from.
Or, find a niche you know well and start your own blog. With time, consistency, and the right SEO tactics, you could turn your blog into a real moneymaker. Either way, freelance writing is a great way to build up a sizable portfolio of writing samples to show employers after you graduate.
3. Web/App Design and Development
If you have a more technical background, offer your services as a web designer or developer. Web design skills are in high demand right now, but few business owners have the time or know-how to do it themselves. Many are willing to pay a pretty penny to have someone else create a great-looking website. So, if you’re tired of a ramen-noodle-every-night budget, this is one way to go.
Or, develop your own app and sell it for cash. If you’re having trouble coming up with an award-winning idea, you might start by identifying a problem at your university and create an app for it! For inspiration, here are 25 of the best smartphone apps developed by college students.
4. Become a Social Media Influencer
Did you know that over 50% of customers say they want to see more video content from the brands they engage with? Starting a YouTube channel is a great way to build your brand. You could earn money through ad monetization or as a brand ambassador for an existing business. Just be aware that the threshold for monetization is 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time in the past 12 months.
Take your selfie game to the next level with a photography business! Post lots of your own high-quality photos on social media as proof of your skill level, and let people know your location and availability. Pay special attention to major photography opportunities on your college campus. There are lots of seniors out there hungry for professional headshots and graduation photos.
Ditch your college radio station and start your own podcast. Why? For one, you’ll have a much better chance of capturing a larger pool of dedicated listeners. In the U.S., over 6 million people per year listen to podcasts. According to Podcast Insights, 80% of podcast listeners listen to all or most of an episode, and tune in to around 7 podcasts per week.
If you already run a small business and need another marketing channel to advertise your products, podcast advertising is another promising route. 69% of podcast listeners say that podcast ads made them more aware of new products and services. They’re also more likely to follow these brands on social media.
If you want to get started and need an easy, on-the-go solution, Anchor is a free podcasting app that allows you to create, host, distribute, and monetize your podcast from any device.
Leverage the knowledge you already have in a subject by tutoring other students, whether they’re in college, high school, or elementary school.
8. Uber or Lyft Driver
This is a great gig if you have a car and want to set your own work schedule. It’s also an excuse to clear your head from thinking about finals around the corner.
9. Pet- or Babysitter
If you love animals or small children (or both!), this is a low-key activity to earn extra cash.
10. Move-Out Operation
Many students need storage space when the end of the academic year rolls around. Start a move-out operation to transport student belongings to storage.
Ready to Start Your Own Business?
If you think you’re ready to run a business, but don’t know where to start, we can help out, particularly if you want to sell custom clothing or your own artwork. Kin Custom is a print-on-demand custom apparel company specializing in all-over print shoes, T-shirts, hoodies, dresses, jackets, and more. We print, cut, sew, package, and dropship to your customers under your own white label brand. Simply upload your design using our Creator Studio design tool or through one of our API Integrations with your store, set your profit margins, and watch the orders flow in!