9 Great Business Ideas for College Students


Before you start a business in college, you have to be ready to commit. A business—even if it’s just a side hustle—is like a baby. You have to nurture it, help it grow, and put a lot of effort into its development. Add that to the workload of being in college, and it may just feel like you’re working two full-time jobs.

On the flip side, becoming an entrepreneur in college can not only bring in extra income but can also teach you skills that you won’t learn in any of your classes. Aside from the technical business skills, running a business can also make you better at communicating, negotiating, marketing, and building relationships with people—among a myriad of other soft skills.

Still willing to take on the challenge? If you don’t have a solid business idea yet, here are some ideas that may pique your interest:

  1. Scented candles

Candles are relatively easy to make once you get the hang of the process. Furthermore, the materials are cheap, especially if you buy them in bulk. For instance, bulk fragrance oil often costs 5% to 15% less than the retail price, which can allow you to produce more products for a lower capital.

  1. Freelancing

When you become a freelancer, you are essentially running your own business, and what you are offering are your services and skills. You get to choose clients, set your own rates and accept jobs only when you need to.

Plus, there are multitudes of freelancing platforms that you can use, such as Upwork, Fiverr, and Guru, among many others.

  1. Food

If you are lucky enough to have accommodation with a fully functional kitchen, take advantage of it by starting a food business. College kids will eat pretty much anything, but if you sell food that is not widely available in the area, you are bound to capture a good market. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Authentic ethnic food from your culture
  • Baked goods
  • Complete dinners that remind students of home
  • Specialty health foods
  • Meal prep

Of course, you would have to apply for permits to be able to sell food from your home, so take the costs of applying for those permits into consideration when drafting your business plan.

  1. Upcycling

Upcycling is a great way to help out the environment and make a profit at the same time. Either you can upcycle your old stuff or buy items from thrift stores for upcycling. Vintage clothes are a hit nowadays, and college students are always looking for cheap yet stylish furniture to furnish their dorms.

  1. Art

If you are an artist, make a business out of your art. All it takes is a good portfolio, a website, and some marketing to get you started. And since you’re in college, use your connections to generate a buzz for your art business.

  1. Airbnb

Have an extra room in your apartment but don’t want a roommate? Turn it into an Airbnb to earn some extra cash. If you’re in a big city or near a tourist destination, all the more reason to rent out your spare room.

  1. Cleaning service

Let’s face it, a lot of college students are either too busy or too lazy to clean their dorms and apartments. If you don’t mind cleaning up shared bathrooms and carpets that haven’t met a vacuum in the past few months, start a cleaning service business to cater to your fellow students. As your business grows, you can even start hiring more people to increase your scope and raise your prices.

  1. Proofreading

Again, the target market for this type of business is your fellow college students. If you are great at proofreading essays or theses, offer to proofread and/or edit other people’s. It’s a great way to earn money; at the same time, you can also improve your writing and proofreading skills.

  1. Travel group

If you’re a great planner, put your skills to use and create a business out of organizing trips for you and other students. When traveling with a group, you can take advantage of group discounts on flights, split the costs of accommodation, and find cheaper tour rates. You can pass on those savings to your clients, as well as make a little profit for yourself.

There are so much more business ideas that you can consider, but these should be enough to get your creative juices flowing. Whatever type of business you choose to pursue, be sure to see it through the end and, more importantly, always keep your business goals in mind.

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