Managing a startup alongside fulfilling the demanding requirements of college life is an uphill task.
People romanticize the idea of ‘college student slash entrepreneur’ every time a startup with a young college grad at its helm, like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, rears its head. This notion has misled many graduate and undergrad students into plunging headlong into the pursuit of a startup business without thinking it through.
To launch a successful entrepreneurial venture, you need to be in touch with ground realities. The truth is that every business opportunity out there isn’t suitable for a university student who has classes, homework, and a host of other commitments. That’s why many students often ask with marked tentativeness, ‘can I really run a business while dealing with my studies?’ or ‘can you get an associates degree at a community college while establishing a successful startup?’
The simple answer to these questions is yes. However, to make things work, you have to make pragmatic choices that are consistent with your living conditions, schedule, and mental energy.
Taking these things into considerations, here are some realistic college startup ideas to steer you in the right direction.
Your studies take up a lot of your mental bandwidth. Therefore, it’s important to capitalize on the knowledge you already have instead of learning new skills and courses.
Tutoring is an excellent way to break into the knowledge-based market. The best part is that startup entrepreneurs don’t necessarily need to have specialized knowledge to start a tutoring business.
Naturally, you can teach students some subjects that you already excel at and branch out an entire business from there. You’ll end up enjoying and benefiting from this approach because not only will it help you make money on the side but it’ll also brush up concepts you’ve been studying at your university.
Here are some tips to help you lay the groundwork for a tutoring startup:
- Let your professors who teach your ‘subjects of interest’ know that you’re available for a tutoring session, especially if one of their students’ needs additional help.
- Make sure your clients are very clear about your schedule. Don’t let a student visit you when you have academic commitments.
When it comes to starting a freelancing business, the opportunities are boundless. With many helpful platforms, like Upwork and Fiverr, you can get almost any gig that’s relevant to your skillset–from web development projects to content writing assignments.
To start a freelancing business, you need to establish your own services. You can use a variety of marketing tactics to get in touch with clients, such as cold emailing, personal website SEO, and of course, through a dedicated freelancing platform.
As you build your client base, instead of taking all the work by yourself, you can start a small outsourcing business. With time, you’ll have a solid workforce and can gradually transition into a managerial position, which won’t take up a lot of your time, allowing you to focus on your studies while still running a full-fledged business.
Some of the most in-demand freelancing skills in the market right now are:
- Web design
An important thing to note is that the freelancing market is extremely saturated in the digital age. In every niche, you’ll have dozens of freelancers competing with you over a handful of clients. To stay ahead of the game, you’ll have to make sure your email marketing and proposal writing skills are top-notch that can tempt clients your way.
One of the best things about freelancing is that the startup costs are very minimal. If you have the skills, and can consistently get positive feedback from your client, you won’t face a lot of obstacles to build a solid client and employee network.
3. Starting A Youtube Channel
A YouTube channel is a great way to invest your time in a startup business in college. Many college graduates earn money by simply walking students that are interested in their institutions through their on-campus life and experiences on their YouTube channels. To divide your workload, you can get your college mates involved in your channel as well. All you need in this venture is a camera and a script.
You don’t necessarily have to limit your niche to on-campus life, though. On the contrary, your channel can be almost about anything–from pranks and self-help videos to motivational talks.
Take note that becoming YouTube’s next shining star isn’t easy. However, a viral idea can change your fortunes overnight. The key to making it big on the platform is consistency. You need to roll out regular content to keep your audience engaged and your rankings on top.
Additionally, pick a sustainable topic, something that can drum up ideas in the long haul. If you have comedic skills, funny videos are hugely popular and can give you the break in college you’re looking for.
You can earn a lot as a YouTuber. For every 1000 views, YouTube rewards you around USD$10-12 in ad revenue. Once you upload your videos on the platform, it’ll ramp up views over time, opening up a passive revenue stream for you and your business partners.
If you hit big on YouTube, you might even have big sponsors knocking on your doors and collaborating with you on paid partnerships.
Make Your Idea a Reality
If you feel you have a once-in-a-lifetime startup idea, don’t kick it to the curb just because you’re in college. First, do your research and test its viability, then make your decision.
Many entrepreneurs have walked the same path you’re thinking of, and actualized their dreams of becoming successful entrepreneurs. Andrew Mason is a striking example. At a young age of 28, he established Groupon, a startup which yielded him a net worth of more than USD$200 million.
You don’t have to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. You just need to find your area of interest, whether it’s photography, freelancing, or tutoring, and carve your unique path. Remember: the personal is always the most creative.