Business ideas for students_1

20 Captivating Business Ideas for Students: Earn Money with Low or No Investment

Studying process
Searching for the best business ideas!

The idea of starting a business during your college studies is very tempering. Besides being exciting, it’s a great way to earn some money while getting useful experience. But what kind of business could that be? While the internet is teeming with startup ideas for students, not all of them are realistic. Some of them involve substantial start-up costs. Others require skills that few ever have.

Our selection only contains small business ideas for college students that involve minimal or no costs and are easy to implement. Find your dream startup idea and put your aspirations into practice. Looking forward to seeing you on the next Forbes 30 under 30 list!

How to Start a Business as a Student? 20 Actionable Ways

Business student
How to start?…

1. Create a blog

The best thing about college businesses ideas like starting a blog is that you do not need to be a professional writer or an expert in a chosen subject. All people expect is authenticity and a unique perspective on a matter. So pick a subject you are passionate about, find a suitable blogging platform, and publish your first post.

To bring revenues, blogging must be strategic. If you want to monetize your blog,

  • plan your content with the specific niche in mind
  • consider how it will bring you money (e.g., affiliate marketing, subscriptions, etc.)
  • examine various options for reaching the target audience (e.g., email marketing, social media, etc.)

Upfront costs: minimum or none depending on the blogging platform you choose

Difficulty: low

2. Launch an online course

If you have some knowledge to share, starting an online course is among the top college business ideas for you. Just think about what you are good at and whether you can teach it to others. Besides the course theme, some questions to consider include

  • Where will I create my course?
  • Who will want my course?
  • What will my pricing strategy be?
  • How will I market my course?

Costs: minimum (It’s OK to use free tools to create a course but when it comes to the URL, don’t opt for the free one. Buying a custom URL will only cost about $30 per year and will give you unlimited branding opportunities.)

Difficulty: medium

3. Start a podcast

Podcasts are among the hottest business ideas as a student. It is a slightly costlier alternative to writing a blog. For the rest, the concept is the same: you create content and sell it to the audience. If writing isn’t your cup of tea but you’re eager to share your perspective, podcasting might be just the way to go!

Initial costs: medium 

Difficulty: low

4. Start an e-commerce store

If you are after entrepreneurship ideas for students that can develop into a solid business, consider an e-commerce store. This endeavor requires a good deal of preparation. Those serious about it should read our post about business plans ideas for students where we explain the basics of start-up planning.

Upfront costs: medium

Difficulty: high

5. Become a fitness instructor

Did you know that more than 50% exercise at home? If you are looking for business ideas for school project with guaranteed demand, this one should be a lovely option. Of course, you need to be genuinely interested in sports and fitness to succeed. For the rest, the strategy is the same as with online courses. Create the training program, pick the suitable pricing format, and develop a marketing strategy.

Starting costs: low

Difficulty: low (given that you are into fitness)

6. Sell handmade soaps and candles

When considering business ideas for schools, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I want to sell a service?
  • Do I want to resell goods?
  • Do I want to sell goods produced by myself?

If option 3 sounds especially attractive, your next question should be as to what you’ll sell. Among the most popular examples of business projects for students are handmade soaps and candles. The reason for this is that they are easy to make and there’s always a demand for them. People often buy them as gifts or home decorations.

Besides being a simple way to earn money, selling handmade stuff is also a nice form of relaxation. This cannot be said about all student business ideas so it’s a huge plus.

Upfront costs: low

Difficulty: low or medium (depending on whether you have any experience or not)

7. Provide academic writing services

Academic writing
An idea to start with!

As a student, you must have completed a good deal of written assignments. Providing academic writing services can be among your best startup ideas for students if

  • your assignments have typically been graded as good or excellent
  • you enjoy the writing process.

Keep in mind that an academic writing service is a full-fledged business. You’ll need to hire writers and control quality. The good news is that if it works, you’ll start making good money while still in college.

Initial costs: medium

Difficulty: medium (it’s one of the most time-consuming start up ideas for students on our list)

8. Give cooking classes

Consider yourself a foodie? If so, giving cooking classes might be a perfect way to turn your passion into profit. The central benefit of entrepreneurial ideas for college students like this is that it allows you to make money while doing what you love best. Start by giving cooking classes to your college community and see if you should extend this or go online.

Upfront costs: minimum

Difficulty: low (if you are keen on cooking, of course)

9. Try your hand at tutoring

If you don’t feel like starting your online course but wouldn’t mind taking on a teacher’s role, tutoring is a good option. It’s one of those startup ideas for college students that do not bring much money at first but can end up being lucrative after a while. Besides, it’s one of the unique business ideas for school project that implies close communication with each client. You won’t make a fortune but precious experience is guaranteed.

Upfront costs: none or minimum

Difficulty: low

10. Become a YouTube gamer

If you are keen on online games, getting paid for playing is probably one of the most captivating business ideas for class project. Before putting it into practice, consider the following questions

  • Are you ready to produce content for free? Until you hit 1k subscribers, you won’t be able to post ads and no one knows when (if at all) this day comes.
  • What kind of videos (reviews, walkthroughs, etc.) are you eager to produce? Who will be your competitors then?
  • How will you access games and what software/hardware will you need to purchase?

All in all, it’s only recommended to opt for initiatives like this one if you are genuinely excited about it. The revenues are not guaranteed but if you have fun in the process, it should be a worthy endeavor anyway.

Starting costs: medium or high depending on the type of equipment you already have

Difficulty: low

11. Sell art

If you are into making art, it may be high time to start making money from it. Of course, it’s one of the college businesses ideas that require artistic skills. If that’s about you, your action plan can be as follows:

  • Create an account on Etsy
  • Connect it with an account on Printful
  • Optimize your listings
  • Market your Etsy shop.

Costs: medium

Difficulty: medium

12. Start a delivery service

If you are in search of ideas that can be realized on the college campus, a delivery service is an ideal pick. Start by surveying your peers about what type of service they expect and how they wish to place orders. Keep collecting their feedback after the launch and adjust your business’s operations. The value of such initiatives is that they let you gain experience while serving your community.

Upfront costs: medium

Difficulty: medium

13. Start a book club

As you already understand, we really love business ideas for schools that are both lucrative and fun to realize. And starting a book club is just that sort of thing. You can go for whatever format you like. Live meetings, online discussions, hybrid — anything will do as long as there are exciting topics and a warm atmosphere. To monetize the start-up, you can charge membership fees, use affiliate marketing, or secure sponsorships.

Costs: low

Difficulty: low

14. Start a franchise

Starting a franchise is a suitable option for those who how to start a business as a student and continue it after graduation. Unlike most business ideas for students, starting a franchise requires significant investments. This is why it should be approached with due care:

  • Research the market
  • Prepare a business proposal (check our post about how to write business proposal ideas for students)
  • Evaluate costs
  • Draft a business plan
  • Sign the license agreement.

As a rule, the franchisor will clearly outline their business standards. You will rely on those when planning your business operations and hiring employees.

Initial costs: high

Difficulty: high

15. Create a review website

Do you often read reviews before buying a product? Well, you are not alone! Research says that’s what 95% of customers do. Looks like a lucrative niche, doesn’t it? All you need is to select a website builder and spend some time setting up your website. When the site is ready, you’ll be able to monetize it by

  • offering sponsored content
  • including affiliated links
  • introducing paid membership that opens access to exclusive content.

Upfront costs: medium

Difficulty: low (especially if you have some experience in website creation)

16. Consider virtual event planning

Like most familiar services, event planning has moved online. Honestly speaking, this is one of the most demanding business ideas for students on our list. You need to be really good at entertainment and planning to put on a virtual event your audience will love. Yet, if you have a talent for it, this should be a rewarding business since the competition is lower than in other startups we’ve discussed.

Starting costs: low

Difficulty: high

17. Offer pet-sitting services

The concept is straightforward. Those who have pets need someone reliable to take care of them from time to time. There are many guides to starting pet-sitting services online so you won’t have any problems with that. It’s one of those startups that won’t bring you high revenues but can give you tons of positive emotions if you love animals.

Upfront costs: low

Difficulty: low (especially if you have had your own pet)

18. Start a reselling business

A reselling platform refers to those startup ideas for students that require both time and money to start. If it goes well though, you can account for 30%-40% profits on the products you sell. 

Costs: high

Difficulty: medium

19. Start a cleaning service

A cleaning service is, first and foremost, an excellent opportunity to acquire a whole bunch of useful skills:

  • How to price services
  • How to market your offer
  • How to process orders, etc.

Just like in the case with a delivery startup, it’s best to start by providing services to your college community. You’ll be able to extend the reach when it begins to make profits.

Starting costs: low

Difficulty: low

20. Start a moving service

A cleaning startup alternative, a moving service is worth considering if you happen to have the necessary resources (e.g., vehicle, packing materials, etc.). The best way to start is by recruiting a couple of friends to help you. You could, first, provide the service to other college students and acquaintances. The idea is to minimize expenses and rely on free advertising at first.

Initial costs: minimum

Difficulty: medium

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, our business ideas for college students have inspired you to start writing your first business plan. Whatever startup idea you go for, remember that the best way to succeed is by doing something you genuinely love.