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Small Business Ideas For Students

Updated on January 25, 2018

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Student Business Ideas: Small Businesses For Student Entrepreneurs

Though it has been several years already since I graduated with my college degree, I can still recall those days quite vividly. Having attended a fairly small university in Pennsylvania, for the majority of my college days I lived just off campus, and partook in a regular diet of foods that many college students know quite well: ramen noodles, cup o' noodles, and, of course, the occasional snack found in a care package my parents had sent to me. Because of their financial constraints, I know that many college students are not so unfamiliar with having to do whatever it takes to make ends meet. Even though I was fortunate enough to have my parents offer to HELP to pay SOME of my tuition, I know that others aren't always quite as fortunate--leaving them with the perpetual dilemma of trying to figure out how to balance school studying needs and requirements, while, oftentimes, working several jobs.

During college, one of my friends actually juggled the intense demands of nursing school, with two additional side jobs!

For the most dedicated and entrepreneurial of college students, there are many small business ideas out there that are worthy of your consideration. On many occasions, I have actually read stories about college students who began their own small business with just the intent to help them supplement college costs, when, in fact, their business took off and became their primary income for many years to come.

These are truly the stories of millionaires.

Juggling employment can be very challenging for a student. Your hours are limited, your qualifications are not entirely developed yet (at least until your education is finished), and entry level employment can be very limited. Why waste your time with a McJob, or get crammed in an office? Try starting a student small business!

A college student entrepreneur has many advantages over a 9 to 5 employee. Being your own boss, you decide your own hours. You can hire other students in the same boat as you if you become successful. You can scale your business appropriately to work around your education. But the best feature of student entrepreneurship: money. You can make buckets of cash if you run your business the right way.

In this article I'm going to list a few great small business ideas for students. These are by no means the only options out there, but they'll hopefully get the creative juices flowing and help you out.

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Small Business Ideas for Students

A happy student, contemplating student entrepreneurship!
A happy student, contemplating student entrepreneurship!

College Entrepreneurs: Small Business Ideas For Students

Being a college student entrepreneur, you'll need to choose the right kind of business, or risk either becoming swamped with work or not making enough to support yourself. You'll also need to have a decent amount of self-discipline to make this work: student entrepreneurship requires a lot of leg work to get started.

Choose a student small business that isn't too mentally taxing. If you're planning to become a student entrepreneur while studying, you don't want to be overworking your brain. For example, if you're an economics student, you probably shouldn't be doing anything with number crunching (unless you're a sucker for punishment). Manual labor jobs are excellent small business ideas for students.

Create a solid business plan, and manage your time well (tricky for students). Buy a calendar or a schedule book. Be prepared to go out and self-promote. Flyers, door-to-door marketing, word of mouth and social media are good ways to get started (you'll be amazed by the amount of work Facebook, Twitter and other social media can provide your student small business with).

Your College Entrepreneurial Experience?

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A happy college entrepreneur mowing the lawn!
A happy college entrepreneur mowing the lawn!

College Business Ideas: Landscaping

Landscaping is a fantastic small business idea for a student. It's not glamorous, but it's realistic and profitable. All you really need for capital expenditure is a bit of lawn equipment: a lawn mower, grass trimmer, gardening tools and a vehicle that can haul them all. You can probably borrow some of this stuff from parents or neighbors.

Door-to-door marketing and word of mouth will be vital to get your student small business launched. Offer one free landscaping service to show people your stuff. Offer hourly rates and do quality work, and you'll become popular quickly.

Landscaping is a great student small business idea for a college student entrepreneur because it's highly seasonal. Summer will be your high season, and it will taper off sharply during the fall and winter. There may be enough work for you during the winter to continue to service your clients part-time.

This is also a great student business idea because it's very scalable. You can expand as much as you want: just contact more houses if you want more work. You can hire other students to help you out. Just be prepared: employees means wrangling with more complicated taxes.

The College Years Flew by for Us: Make the Most of that Time!

College Business Ideas: Online Marketing

Perhaps my favorite college student small business idea, there are many perks and benefits to doing online marketing. The reason why I love online marketing so much is because you can literally do it from the confines of your home, dorm, or apartment.

The term "online marketing" really encompasses a lot of different things like:

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Business opportunity marketing
  • Product sale and development (like writing and selling, say, an eBook)

While some people have earned a lot of money by creating there own digital products, the truth is, the learning curve to do something like that can be extremely difficult and tedious. On top of that, the sheer time investment required to actually create your own product can be extremely time consuming.

You very well may just be out of college by the time you ever really start to really gain any traction.

Because most every college student generally has access to large and small groups of people--both online and offline--I would highly recommend selling a business opportunity like doTERRA essential oils. Sure, opportunities to sell business opportunities are many and, yes, it seems like just about everywhere one turns, someone somewhere is trying to do it. After literally hundreds of hours of researching a variety of different companies, I found that there were few companies that combined both an extremely high quality product, with perhaps the most lucrative and generous compensation plan.

With natural healing properties that are really just beginning to take hold among those who long for greater control of their healthcare, you can easily sign up as Wellness Advocate for doTERRA (Click on the Sign Up/Join Link at the Bottom of the Page...) and earn 25% off retail price for essential oils. Even better, though, at a first year registration fee of only $35, this is literally the least expensive business opportunity on this college student small business ideas list.

After the initial fee, the price goes down $10 to $25 for every subsequent year after that. Like Costco or Sam's Club, this is really the membership fee that allows you to purchase at drastically reduced wholesale prices. Due to the inherent differences in each and every oil compound complexity, every single oil is priced differently. The annual membership renewing price will more than cover itself if your intent is to purchase roughly 5-10 bottles a year.

To sell doTERRA essential oils, though, you are NOT obligated to actually purchase anything yourself, though! While you may want to purchase one of several starter kits really just to familiarize yourself with the product before sharing it with others, you absolutely do not have to. Unlike having a landscaping or moving business, the startup costs aren't even remotely close to the capital expenditure investments required to get other types of business opportunities off the ground.

Student Small Business Ideas

Moving is a great student business idea.
Moving is a great student business idea. | Source

College Business Ideas: Moving

Becoming a mover is another great small business idea for college students. All you really need is a large van and a couple of reliable friends or employees to help you work. People generally budget a lot of money for a move, so a clever college entrepreneur can find a lot of business by only slightly undercutting the competition.

At the 1st and the 15th of every month, you should find more work than you can handle. Work in between may be sparse, but that allows you to have a social life, study, etc. Just be prepared for the landslide of activity for a few days every 30 or so.

A smart student entrepreneur will take out some sort of liability insurance to protect themselves: damages to property will cost you. You want to make sure your student small business is protected from financial disaster.

Student Entrepreneurship: Do Your Research

Any student entrepreneur should be careful to research tax law, insurance requirements and any fees or licenses your business will incur. Protect yourself by doing the research. As a small business owner, I can tell you it's definitely worth the effort you put in today!

Good luck!

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    • receivetipstricks profile image

      Mrinal Saha 

      4 years ago from Jaipur,India

      In my college days, we used to conduct an event-get vouchers for the local dealers-distributed them to the winners and sell the rest to the participants. Extra cash always comes handy.

      If you are good in technical, you can make projects for others while you are still in college. I did that, and some extra-cash.

      But later I regret this decisions, because I understood that if you are moving onto entrepreneurship then one should invest time/resources in building asserts, that would pay later. (Rich Dad, Poor Dad)

      I am pass-out now. Great post btw :)

    • swathi180 profile image


      5 years ago

      Great ideas and very well written.

    • Insightful Tiger profile image

      Insightful Tiger 

      5 years ago

      Very informative and creative. I would try that if I was back in College! Great hub! Thanks for sharing! Voted up and pinned.

    • JoeCo profile image

      Joe Colon 

      5 years ago from New York City

      Great job on this hub, Very well put together and interesting.. Two thumbs up

    • SaffronBlossom profile image


      5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Great hub! I helped put myself through college and then law school by doing freelance editing and ghostwriting--the flexible hours were key and I go to put my degrees to use.


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