Great Small Business Ideas for College Students

March 1, 2007

College is a great time to catch the entrepreneurial bug for several reasons. You don’t have a 9-5 job yet so other than a few classes a day you can set your own schedule. You’re surrounded by bright and motivated people you can collaborate with and you can turn to your experienced professors for advice or guidance.

I turned to Matthew Paulson of Getting Green for some advice for those in college looking to make a little extra money and get their feet wet as an entrepreneur. These ideas might not make your rich beyond your wildest dreams but they’re great for starting your own first venture. Matthew writes about money issues such as credit, financial freedom, and student loans over at Getting Green. If you enjoy this article be sure subscribe to Mathew’s feed for more great tips.


If you are in college, you know that money can be quite hard to come by. We college students have to pay very large tuition payments every semester. When you combine this with our on average relatively low incomes, it can be quite daunting just to make it. It makes it even worse since most college students have never been taught proper money management skills and aren’t the best at handling their income yet. If you’re a college student who’s tired of work-study wages, consider one of these small business ideas.

Soda Shop
Most of the campus vending machines sell pop for 75 cents a can and a very overly inflated price. Consider heading down to the local grocery store, or better yet a local Costco or Sam’s Club, and buy some pop in bulk. You’ll probably buy it for a quarter a can or less if you get generic stuff. You can then sell those cans for 50 cents each and undercut the university. You’ll want to keep it on the down-low, since generally
university suppliers don’t like having competition.

Note Taking
Send an email out to the rest of your class and offer to take notes for them. If you can get more than a few people interested, you can actually get paid to go to your classes! Be sure to take really good notes and send out the first few days notes free with the sample email. You’re going to take notes anyway, so why not charge $25 a pop for the semester or so?

A lot of students have trouble in college, so why not consider being a tutor? If your university does not offer tutoring services, chances are you can make a killing off tutoring. You just need to let people know that you are out there.

Dorm Cleaning
Most college students have awfully dirty dorm rooms. Offer a cleaning service in which you come by once every couple of weeks (or one of your employees), and give their room a good once over. This means vacuuming, mopping, dusting, cleaning their bedding, taking out the trash, and the like. If you do very well, you’ll get all sorts of referrals from your happy customers.

Computer Support
Most college students have computers, offer to take care of their desktop and laptops if they have computer problems. Chances are there are plenty of geeks around the school for you to hire as employees, so why not make a business of it?

These are just a few ideas for college students to make some money while they are undergraduates. What sort of small business that you can start as an undergraduate is only limited by your imagination.


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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5 Responses to Great Small Business Ideas for College Students

  • Earnest

    The lack of opportunity now to go and stay in college is the problem now. Todays economy and political misfits are destroying any dreams of receiving a degree worth more than the paper it is on. So most will be force to put their creative juices in entrepreneurship.

  • Stephanie

    Whoa, a fellow RITter in a comments section! Creepy! From looking at this list, most of these things wouldn’t work at RIT. Selling soda would be hard, because the vending machine network is so strong and convenient. Note taking, tutoring, and computer support are all provided by the university – and yes, you can become a notetaker, which is nice, but usually there’s a lot of competition to be the class’ notetaker, and they usually give the job to someone who’s done it before, so it can be hard to break into. As far as dorm cleaning… I don’t think most RIT students care 😉

  • Blaine Moore (First Time Home Owner)

    At RIT, there were official note takers in any class that had a deaf student. It is hard to take notes when you need to be watching the interpreter. I got hired in a few classes to provide notes to the deaf students, but it was university wages and not private wages. Most hearing students that wanted the NTID notes could buy them through the school or the note taker, but you didn’t get a whole lot usually.


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