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Our society has romanticized the concept of small business ideas for students. Businesses such as Twitter, Google, and Snapchat are pointed out as sparkling examples of what college entrepreneurs should do. Those are the ultra-successful moonshots — the companies every young businessman knows they’re destined to launch. But the reality is there are thousands of failed businesses for every ultra-successful Facebook that never make it off-campus.

You can try, but you’re probably going to fail spectacularly. These things are not easy to accomplish.

Despite all of this, if you’re persistent and crazy enough to try, it is possible to be a college entrepreneur. You just need to be smart about it.

If you’re a student at a traditional university, there are only a few types of businesses you can realistically start. With the limitations on your time and attention, founding a large-scale coffee roasting company, for example, might be beyond your reach. However, certain businesses are much better at working with or around your limitations as a student.

Here are the top 10 small business ideas for students you can realistically start in college


School is difficult. There’s always at least one topic to which you naturally excel, though. Why not make some money on the side by tutoring on a subject you already mastered?

Tips for starting a tutoring business:

  • Let the professors who teach your chosen subject know that you’re available to tutor any of their students who need help.
  • You likely won’t earn enough to retire with this business. Aim to earn a little more freedom, not your first million.
  • Be disciplined and clear with your schedule. Work by appointment primarily; keep strict “office hours” only for your best clients.


A majority of college students need a well-written resume whether applying for a summer internship or planning for life after college. Practice and career prospects are competitive, and the way a curriculum vitae looks and reads will make or break the chances of a student taking a position at his or her dream business.

Above all, your curriculum vitae must be impeccable so that you can guarantee your services to other students. Head to the campus career counseling center at your school to learn how to write resumes, and improve your own. Even the internet will be your primary resource for helping with resume formatting analysis.

If you’re an excellent writer with a sharp eye for how to organize information clearly, résumé writing is an easy small business idea for students to help others and make money on your own time.

Professional résumé writers can charge hundreds of dollars per résumé; however, as a college student catering to other young up and comers, start by keeping your hourly rate fairly low (maybe between $15 and $20 per job).


One of the best small business ideas for students id Blogging. Any blog in any niche can turn profitable with the right time and effort. This website is a blog – this post may be an “ultimate guide,” but it’s just a very, very, very long blog post, in fact. If you’re passionate about a particular topic, purchase a domain for £ 6 ($8), set up a WordPress site, and get written.

Obtain more than 500 words per post, and share them on your social media. By adding Google Adsense to start making money when you have real traffic going through the blog.


To my knowledge, this has yet to be transformed into an actual business. Each year in Southampton, the whole place is incredibly competitive for the Sabbatical elections, where people vote for the coming year to win roles including Student President.

You’d think the candidates run for the White House, with interviews, lecture advertising, and viral videos, with the work that goes into these campaigns. When they run like full-blown government polls, why don’t they commoditize it as one? Consider yourself the source and supplier of all campaign-related stuff.


Often when you think of bookkeeping, numbers, maths, accounting and finance come up in your mind. Nevertheless, to seek a career as a bookkeeper, you don’t need to be a finance major.

A certified public accountant and business owner can be beneficial if they have a basic knowledge of accounting, but it’s not an upfront requirement. If you have good computer skills and the ability to solve issues in the real world, bookkeeping could be a great choice for you.

All businesses are required to keep bookkeeping records, so there’s always a demand for bookkeepers; outsourcing a college student as a bookkeeper is an easy way for businesses (especially smaller ones) to cut costs and avoid hiring a costly professional.

Most small business ideas for students startup costs are low. They include applications such as QuickBooks or Xero, which costs between $5 and $70 a month anywhere and selling your services to companies through job openings, referrals, or your network in school. Robinson suggests paying bookkeeping services at about $60 an hour, but this cost may vary depending on the nature of the job and the degree of your experience.


Consulting can be a gold mine for students in business administration who want to work for themselves when building real-world knowledge. Many companies today, for example, use social media to advertise their services and all companies need to track their cash flow. Many small business owners, however, are too busy developing specialist skills in either of these areas. It is here that you come in.

Tips for starting a consulting business :

  • Pick an area to specialize in and take as many classes as you can on that subject.
  • Intern with a respected organization in your chosen field to get practical, first-hand experience.
  • Always provide more value than is expected.


Kristen Faulkner started her photography business ideas for students as a college student. Although taking pictures of interesting things and people started as just a hobby to her, it has developed into a small business since then, of course.

Tips for starting a photography business:

  • Take great photos, share them on social media, and let your followers know regularly that you are available for hire.
  • Concentrate on creating lots of content and increasing the network. The more your eyes are on your pictures, the more business opportunities are coming your way.
  • Never be content with your current level of competence or experience.


Nightlife entertainment can cover a range of topics but I’m thinking about supplying venues and promoters with what they need to run events, without the hassle.

You may be a DJ or a band; perhaps you own the sound equipment, maybe you own a foam machine. Become the go-to supplier to the key events of the year for every venue and you will have an easily scale-able company.


One of the most popular small business ideas for students in Web design and development. Web design and production are still in demand but never well performed. Very few business owners have the time or the desire to learn web development fundamentals. Because of this, most are willing to pay a premium price for a well-designed website that makes it look fantastic for their company.

Tips for starting a web development business:

  • Do some research on potential clients before contacting them. Understand their business goals, history, brand, and audience.
  • Don’t just provide a service, solve a problem the business is currently facing.
  • Specialize in a particular element of digital marketing and implement it in your own designs. Use this as a unique selling point for your business.


These are small simple business ideas for students, Dropshipping is almost risk-free. A dropshipping business without the product is essentially a product-based business. You’re the middle man — selling the commodity digitally, directly to the customer from the supplier. Trust me, it is easier than it would sound.

Tips for starting a dropshipping business:

  • Automatize as much as possible. This leaves less room for human error and more time to free up.
  • Don’t just list items, build your own brand on Amazon.
  • Some type of marketing should be at least 80 percent of the time you spend on the company. The more traffic you drive to your goods, the more you expand when you don’t work on the company.

Just because it’s realistic, doesn’t make it easy. But…

College is hard. Business is harder. You really would have to be crazy to do them both together.

You are going to face a lot of long nights and early mornings as a college entrepreneur. You’re going to face bigger stress and fear than you can imagine. Self-doubt is going to try to cripple you. You’ll have to make very real sacrifices and agonizingly difficult decisions, even with all the small business ideas for students that are available to you. You are going to have no choice but to learn and fight through the pains that come with it.

And you’ll enjoy every second of it through all of this.

Because if you’re persevering through the pain, if you’re smart about your approach, if you’re taking care of yourself, and perhaps even giving yourself the best chance to succeed, you’ll find that nothing you’ve ever done before is as satisfying or free as being a college businessman.



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