While you are in university, you spend most of your days strapped for cash with no degree yet to looking for a job to start earning. Working in retail usually takes up far too much time, leaving you with little time to study, so what do you do? 

Starting a small business in college is one of the greatest ways to make potential passive income and gain experience all at once. Depending on what your strengths and talents are, there are a variety of different business ideas to consider. Once you have found the perfect match, you can start earning money and adding work experience to your resume. 

The trick is in finding the right service or product to provide and pairing it with an existing audience, such as your immediate friend group or classmates. This way, you don’t need to waste time on marketing because you are already connected with potential clients. 

All the examples below offer business ideas that have low start-up costs and can quickly turn into a sound source of income.

Child care (Baby sitter, Nanny or Au Pair)

Not all business ideas need to be the beginning of a potential enterprise. Choosing to take care of children while you are still in university looks great on a resume as it shows commitment and compassion. Your duties could be anything from making sure the child has had a good play time to teaching some education fundamentals. 

All you need is a network of parents and a plan on how to take care of these kids in a safe and entertaining environment. You can connect with parents who need a babysitter through apps and websites dealing exclusively in it.  

YouTube Personality

Working on YouTube is regarded as an easy business to start because there are little to no start-up fees. All you need is an idea and a face for video and you are ready to go. 

To make an income off of it, you will need to start building relationships with brands that you might want to represent. Alternatively, there is the option of selling ad space on your videos. 

Tech Support

All your friends know it, you are a tech guru and can make the slowest of Wi-Fi connections bend at your command. So why not turn this service into a business opportunity? 

Knowledge and time are both valuable assets, start charging your friends and older family members a call out fee when they need your help. When you think about it, all the things you do for free are business ideas waiting to happen. 

App Developer

Just because you are still in university doesn’t mean that you have to stick to the small business ideas. Why not use your passion for programming skills to launch a test round for the type of apps you want to build in the future. 

You need to have time on your hands for realizing your entrepreneurial ideas. Developing apps, creating e-commerce stores or running blogs need a great deal of effort and time. 

Sometimes, that lack of time can create panic and it will mean a disaster both for the business plan and the course work. In such cases, you should seek research papers writing help from online expert writers. That will help you in getting your thesis or dissertation work expertly and in quick time. 

Personal Trainer

If you are more physically inclined, why not turn your morning training sessions into a group activity? This is another venture with low start-up costs because all you will have to do is advertise and collect sign up fees. 

Students usually have access to the same common areas or quads, make use of this space. Couple that with a structured workout routine and you are sure to have a few sign-ups by the end of the week. Once you are out there and being seen, you won’t even have to promote anymore, just being there will be all the promotion you need.


A business idea for the university students that excel in their academics – You could become a tutor for whichever age group you choose. Visit your local schools and offer maths and science tutoring or speak to students at your university who are a year or two behind you. 

Even better, you can become an online tutor on popular e-learning sites and soon start your own site when you learn the art in and out. 

The trick here is to have a plan or a portfolio explaining how you can improve their grades with your tutoring methods. The proof of your methods will be your own academic achievements. 

Social Media Consultant

Sometimes, what you know is all you will ever need to create a business. Being a social media consultant is similar to Tech Support without any of the physical work. All you need is a mind for social media marketing and someone who wants to by your knowledge. 

Often startup companies do not have a budget to hire their own social media team, so they do all the leg work themselves in-house. By becoming a consultant for them, you guide them on what they should and shouldn’t do, and the rest is up to them. 

Graphic Designer

Everyone reading this blog will need a graphic designer at some point if they want to start marketing their business ideas. And that is where the artistically gifted students save the day as graphic designers

Similar to social media, small businesses do not have in-house marketing and designers, so this is your target market.


Sometimes just having the time and patience that others don’t can create a business for you. Offer your services as a proofreader at a fee per page or per assignment, students need this, but they never have the patience for it. 

Students in their final or extended years of study will appreciate this service for their dissertations and doctorate applications.

Freelance Photographer

If you are looking for a business idea that fills your weekends with fun and interesting events, then consider photography. Certain events require a bit more than a few selfies and this is where a photographer is needed. 

Big birthdays, engagement parties and conferences happen all the time. Get in contact with your local venues and spread the word about your new business venture. 

In conclusion

With all the possibilities that are out there and all the variations, there is something for every student to aspire to. The importance of teamwork, supporting your fellow students and managing your time are the only things you will need to succeed.

If at first, it doesn’t quite work out, try your hand at a different business idea or team up with complementary offerings, for example, social media consultants working with graphic designers to offer a package deal. Your broke student days will be far behind you and your resume will be all the better for it. 

About the Author: Frank Thompson is an education specialist and a career coach working with students to help them define their career goals, prepare a plan to achieve them and execute it successfully. His mantra to achieve it – a three-dimensional approach combining academics, sports, and technology. When Frank is not busy career coaching the students, he watches TV, cooks Thai food for his family and goes out to play soccer with friends.