Starting a business, while in college, can be exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. On the one hand, you have all the resources and support you’ll ever need to start up. However, on the other hand, your school work can be unpredictable and hard to manage. Some choose to wait until after graduation to pursue entrepreneurial endeavours to ensure they’ve learned enough inside the classroom. Yet, many entrepreneurs learn from hands-on experience. In this article, you’ll learn why college is the best time to start a business, business ideas for college students, and how to start a business in college.
You Have Access to One of the Biggest Networks of People
If you decide to start a business in college, you’ll be surrounded by some of the brightest minds you’ve ever met in your life so far. You might even meet your future cofounder. You’ll be able to use the opinions of your peers for feedback on the quality of your product. You’ll also be able to promote your brand to your friends who will tell their friends and so forth. When you’re still in school, it’s easier for things to spread. Students often hang out in groups whether studying together or going to the same event so it’s word of mouth promotion spreads quicker.
You Can Talk to Business Professors or Business Students for Advice
If you’re starting a business in college, you can easily seek mentorship from a business professor or business student with entrepreneurial experience. While you’re in college, telling others that you’re a student often gives you special privileges that others can’t access. A business professor likely doesn’t have time to give advice to a non-student. However, even if you aren’t in a business program, you may be able to sway a professor into giving you advice over a cup of coffee. You can also talk to MBA students or undergraduates who’ve started their own businesses and ask for their advice when you hit roadblocks.
You Have Nothing to Lose
When you start a business in college, you have nothing to lose. Money? You’re probably already used to bootstrapping and low pay jobs. Failure? You’re so young that you’re still in school. This is your time to make mistakes and try new things. Bills? You likely don’t own a mortgage, have kids or any major bills to pay. Student loans don’t need to be paid for until after graduation and if you play your cards right you can pay them off quickly. Social approval? Your parents probably aren’t around you often enough to steer you from starting a business in college. Your friends will likely support you and if they don’t — hang with the business students and they will.
Looks Great on a Resume When You Graduate
Good grades aren’t enough to land you your dream job after graduation. Employers often look for those with practical experience. Whether you continue entrepreneurial endeavors after graduation or pursue work at a local startup, you’ll be better off with entrepreneurial experience on your resume. Even if your college business failed, employers will appreciate the fact that you tried.
Many Schools Have Mentorship Programs for Students With Alumni
If you choose to start a business in college, you’ll have access to mentorship programs. Students can head over to their campus career centre to ask about alumni mentorship programs. In these programs, students can choose to be mentored by an alumnus in their field. You can be asked to be paired up with a fellow entrepreneur who can guide you in your college business.
Some Cities Offer Financial Compensation to Students Who Start Summer Businesses
Depending on your government, students may be able to access grants for starting college businesses in the summer. You’ll receive a grant to cover some of your business costs during the summer so that you can start-up a business. Some programs also include a mentorship aspect to it to help ensure your summer business succeeds. An example of this would be Ontario, Canada’s Summer Company program.
You Can Help Pay Down Your Student Loan Before You Graduate
Some students graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt. If you start a low-risk business in college, you could potentially make enough money to pay off your student loans or lower the loan amount you need, if you become profitable.
You Can Ask Other Students to Volunteer While You Give Them Practical Experience
Students often sign up for volunteer opportunities if they’ll gain valuable experience. From leadership roles in student government to campus clubs, students have proven to be willing volunteers. If you provide a reference letter and provide your volunteers with growth opportunities, it can be easy to recruit people to help. You can have marketing students volunteer to create Facebook Ads, write blog content or market on social media. You can ask accounting students to volunteer to help create a budget and determine how to manage finances effectively.
You Also Have Access to Computers, Internet, and a Library
While most people own computers and have access to an internet connection, your school does have resources that you can use for your college business. Your campus student centre can be used to host business meetings. Your campus library can be used as an acting coworking space. You’ll always have access to the campus wifi so you can be assured of a secure internet connection.
What Type of Businesses Are Great for College Students?
Dropshipping businesses allow store owners to only buy products when a customer has made a purchase. The supplier carries the inventory and ships the products directly to the customer on behalf of the store owner. They’re low-risk business with potentially high rewards. They also have a low startup cost as students wouldn’t need to pay for inventory upfront. Dropshipping businesses are great short and long-term businesses. They also allow you to sell products in any niche allowing you the freedom to pursue your passion.
Marketing companies are often great college businesses. You have access to a large number of people to promote products, events, and other services to. You also have a large number of students you can employ to be a marketing representative for your company. However, it’s typically a good for short-term business though some can turn it into a long-term business model.
Some students choose to launch tutoring businesses in college. They may choose to hire students from different programs and pay them a set hourly rate to provide services to a student in need. It’s a good college business idea for side income but is typically only a short-term business.
Resume Writing Service
College students can launch a resume writing service. Most college students need help landing jobs in the summer or after graduation. You can hire expert resume writers on Craigslist or students with resume writing experience. This type of business is typically good for side income. It’s also typically a short-term business.
Ecommerce businesses are great college businesses. Students can make products from their dorm room such as jewelry, beauty products, or beard oils. Then, they can sell the products online. Students can also create print on demand businesses where they can design their own t-shirts and sell them for a profit. Ecommerce businesses can be great for short-term or long-term.
Starting a Business in College
Pick a Niche
Determine which type of products you’re passionate about. Are you obsessed with sports? Do you love cats? Are you a hair expert? Are you constantly buying new phone cases? Whatever you’re passionate about or an expert in, consider pursuing it as a niche for your store. You’ll want to make sure your niche is popular which you can typically do by looking at popular brands in the category. Do they have millions of followers or only a couple thousand? Do AliExpress products in the category get thousands of orders or none?
Create your Store for Free
Most ecommerce entrepreneurs use Shopify as their platform to host their store. While Shopify does have a monthly fee, they do have a free 30-day trial which allows you to test it out for yourself. Shopify is the WordPress for ecommerce stores.
Get your Vanity URLs
You’ll want to purchase a domain name for your store. Shopify has free domain names with .myshopify.com included. However, most store owners prefer having their own .com domain. Shopify has a Business Name Generator that allows you to come up with business name ideas with available domains. You can purchase any one you like.
Once you purchase your domain, you’ll want to create a consistent social media handle for all social platforms. Keep in mind that Twitter and Facebook have different name lengths. By using the same handle for all social media platforms you’ll make searching for you easier for your customers.]
Pick a Free Theme
If you have the funds to invest in a paid theme go for it. However, if you’re in college, you may want to bootstrap your business, at least in the beginning. Shopify has several great free themes you can choose from.
When I first created a store, I used the Vintage theme. They have three different looks you can choose from. The theme layout is intuitive and easy to navigate which is great for your customers. You can also make modifications to change up the look a bit, to make it your own. Product images have a zoom picture which allows customer to have a better look at your image. The theme is also mobile optimized allowing you to target those who shop on their phones. This could come in handy if your business caters to people who are in college, like you. It’s also the highest rated free theme in the store so it’s worth checking out.
Make the Website Look Active
You’ll want to start building out your store to make it look like an active and professional website. You should write a couple of blog posts to show that your store is producing content. Add banner images to your homepage. Add social media buttons and make sure you’ve added a few posts on your pages. Add an About Us page and talk about your brand – who you are, what you do and why you do it. You should also include a Contact Us page so that customers can easily contact you with their questions. It also builds trust.
Start Marketing Your Store
Depending on your niche, you may want to choose to target different audiences. Many niches generate revenue through Facebook Ads. Others grow with Instagram influencer marketing. You can even ask students with influence at your college to post your products on their Instagram or Snapchat. If you decide to buy a couple of items, you can have your friends model your products such as phone cases, clothing or other product. You’ll want to encourage your friends to post it on their social media while you repost their images on your business’ account. This helps give your brand social clout.
Now that we’ve laid out how you can start a business whilst you’re in college, it’s time for you to get started. If you have any questions drop us a line in the comments section, we’re happy to help!