Back to Business Ideas Categories

30 Business Ideas for College Students

Written by:

Edited by:

Published on July 12, 2022

Updated on September 20, 2022

30 Business Ideas for College Students

Disclaimer: Step by Step Business’ content is for informational and educational purposes only. It’s not intended to be a substitute for professional legal or tax advice. All of our articles are thoroughly reviewed and fact-checked by our editorial team. Read our editorial guidelines for more details.

Some of our articles include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

30 Business Ideas for College Students

Worried about hefty student loan debt? Don’t be. With some smart time management, you can start doing business and making good money even while you’re in college. 

Become an influencer by actively posting on Instagram or TikTok. Start a vlog on YouTube. Or if you’re not comfortable on camera, find freelance writing gigs. This guide highlights some of the best business ideas for college students, so check ’em out and start counting your dough.

1. Dog Walking

Dog Walking

Would you believe that dog walking is a billion-dollar industry in the US? It’s true, and the pandemic deserves some of the credit, because so many people stuck at home for months on end needed company and decided to get themselves a dog. All those dogs, of course, need to be walked, which means demand for dog walking services is strong and on the rise.

If you love dogs, you could start your own dog walk business and help people care for their pets while making a good living, getting some exercise and enjoying yourself! It’s a win-win-win. Of course, it’s not as easy as giving a dog a bone.

You’ll likely need to register with your local health department and get insurance. But beyond that, you’ll just need to offer your services on social media and online platforms like Rover.com and deliver excellent service to your first few clients. Once you establish a brand and start getting referrals, you might find yourself with too many dogs, and too little time!

2. Courier Business

Courier Business

If you’re looking for a way to make extra money, starting your own courier business could be the perfect solution. You can work as much or as little as you want to start off, and there’s no need for expensive equipment or training. You’ll just need a reliable vehicle, good insurance and decent driving ability. 

Best of all, the market is growing fast, thanks to people spending more time at home and the rise of delivery apps like InstaCart, DoorDash and more, so there’s real opportunity in this line of work. Particularly if you already have a car, this is a low-cost venture with little risk and strong profit potential. To get started you just need to sign up as a driver for one of your local delivery apps and start making pick ups and deliveries. 

Once you’ve built a reputation, you could start offering your courier services to area businesses, which tend to pay more. If you’re services are reliable, you’ll likely get referrals and, sooner than you might imagine, you’ll be able to set up your own courier business.

3. Tutoring

Tutoring

Do you have an area of academic expertise? Maybe you’re great at math, deeply familiar with science, or obsessed with language and literature. Even if you’re not a subject expert, but simply good with children, now’s a great time to consider starting a tutoring business. 

The industry took a hit during the pandemic, but today many tutors are embracing virtual instruction and tutoring is expected to see steady growth in the years ahead. As a result, you’re now able to run a tutoring business almost entirely from home, all while helping children to learn and excel and making a good living.  

Starting a tutoring business is not terribly complicated. If you have teaching experience or some proof of your expertise, you mainly need a good computer and you can start offering your services on a variety of online platforms, like ClubZ or eTutorWorld. With a bit of marketing on social media, you should be able to attract a few clients and start building your tutoring empire.

4. Freelance

Freelance

Around 60 million Americans are now doing freelance work and contributing $1.2 trillion to the US economy. If you’re skilled in writing, graphic design, IT, accounting, administrative services, marketing, and business consulting, you can start your own freelance business. Plenty of opportunities are available as demand for freelance services is expected to grow 14% by 2026.

Before you get started, it’s important to understand that the gig economy is becoming competitive and that some jobs pay more than others. You should also know that most freelance workers don’t get the usual perks and privileges granted to regular employees. If you work for global clients, cultural differences may present a challenge. 

Startup costs for a freelance business are minimal. You can work from home or remotely from anywhere in the world as long as you have a laptop and a stable internet connection. But it’s important to build your personal brand and expand your network in order to find clients. If you play your cards right, your freelance business can be very profitable.

5. Pet Sitting

Pet Sitting

You’d probably never guess that pet sitting is a $2.6 billion industry, but it is indeed. People love their pets, and will spend whatever it takes to ensure their animals are cared for when they are away. The pet sitting market is projected to see impressive growth through 2027, so if you’re an animal lover, now is the perfect time to start your own pet sitting business and ride that wave to serious profits. Best of all, you’ll make your own hours — and won’t miss any classes.

The first step is to decide which type of pets you’ll care for. Do you have more experience with dogs or cats? Are you OK with snakes? Once you’ve got that nailed down, you’ll just need to buy some pet toys and supplies and offer your services on a gigs site like TaskRabbit. It’s a good idea to reach out to friends, family and work-related contacts and acquaintances. If you’re able to generate an initial client or two from your own personal network, and provide them with great service, you’ll have a strong reference to promote your services and start building a successful business.

6. Selling Online Courses

Online Courses

Thanks to video conferencing apps, e-learning and online courses are becoming more popular and seeing explosive growth. The global online courses market exceeded $250 billion in 2020. It is expected to expand four-fold and reach $1 trillion in revenue by 2027. If you’re sharp in a certain field, like math or English, then you can offer online courses and help educate the world while making some cash.

You can start small and run your business from home. You just need a PC or mobile device, fast and reliable internet connection, a compelling website, and a creative marketing plan to attract clients. With these in place, your online courses business will surely attain success.

7. Blog

Blog

In the podcast era, you might have thought that blogs had gone out of style. You would be wrong. The internet is home to more than 600 million blogs, more than 2 million blog posts go online every day, and after years of steady growth, the US is home to about 32 million blogs. Substack, the blog and newsletter platform, recently passed one million subscribers. As a result, there is real opportunity for a bold young entrepreneur — i.e. a college student — looking to get in on this massive market. 

It requires minimal investment. All you really need is a reliable computer and decent wifi. The major hurdle is coming up with a concept, an objective or mission for your blog business. You might choose generating funds to feed hungry children or delivering crucial news to the people of your city or state. Once you’ve found your niche, you’ll need to reach out across your network, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and beyond, looking for all those who write on related subjects and asking them to get on board. You could offer discounts, incentives, or rewards to sweeten the deal. 

Once a couple of accomplished bloggers sign on, the paid advertisements will start rolling in and you’ll be on the road to success in the blogging business.

8. Online Resale

Online Resale

Want to talk about a booming industry? In the coming years, apparel resale is expected to grow 11 times faster than the overall clothing industry, with most of that growth happening online. One reason is that Gen Z’ers and Millennials prefer sustainability, thrifting and throwback trends. Another is that the resale industry sources its goods domestically and as a result is not facing the same supply chain issues as major retailers. 

The big question is how you’ll go about reselling your goods. One option is to rely on major online marketplaces like Etsy and eBay. Another is to partner with resale-focused sites like ThredUp. A third is to create your own resale website. The advantage of this option is you’ll be able to express your own sense of style and build your own brand, while the downside is the added expense. 

Whichever route you choose, as long as you have reliable access to quality goods for resale and continue to provide strong service, you’re likely to keep that cash register ringing.

9. Social Media Management

Social Media

Social media is among the world’s fastest-growing industries, with its 20% annual expansion in the last five years expected to increase to stunning 25% annual growth through 2026. By then it will be nearly a trillion dollar industry, which means that now is a great time to get in on the action and ride this wave. Especially since more than 90 percent of today’s college students use social media.

Starting a social media business can be as simple as starting a blog about the media industry on LinkedIn or as complex as creating a fully-fledged Instagram business with lots of people using your content and products. With any social media business, the marketing will be absolutely crucial. The primary goal will be to connect with your target audience on the relevant platform. This means that before you even get started, you should do some research and experimentation to decide which platform and its user profile best fits you and your interests. From there, you’ll just need to find your niche to start building a respected brand.

10. YouTube Channel

YouTube
Sutipond Somnam / Shutterstock.com

So you want to start a YouTube business? Great idea! The opportunities for online businesses are endless these days, and video platforms are a great way to start. YouTube’s ad revenue increased a stunning 25 percent in 2021, which means now is a great time to get in on the action. 

There’s no doubt that YouTube is a powerful business tool. But it can be a little tricky to know the best way to start a YouTube business. If you have some expertise or skill that is in great demand, you’ll want to create a series of videos and start your own YouTube channel. From there, you’ll need to generate visitors, and a great way to do that is to post about your videos and expertise across all social media, and tell your family and friends. 

As you keep delivering quality content, you should be able to start generate subscriptions, and that’s when the ad dollars start rolling in.

11. Virtual Assistant

Virtual Assistant

The job didn’t even exist 20 years ago, but now, thanks to new technologies and the sharp increase in remote work during the pandemic, the virtual assistant industry is booming. After years of strong growth, the market is expected to be worth more than $4 billion by 2025. That means now is a fantastic time to start your own virtual assistant business, even from the comfort of your dorm room.

To be clear, we’re talking about a human, not a digital or AI-powered, assistant, who provides administrative, technical, and creative services to clients remotely, via the internet. If you have a strong business skillset, you can get started with a minimal investment and run the company out of your own home while serving clients anywhere in the world. You could also add more skills over time, increasing your revenue streams and the rates you’re able to charge. 

With hard work and a bit of luck, you’ll soon be helping businesses run more smoothly and efficiently while making good money for yourself.

12. Magazine

Magazine

Are you thinking of starting a magazine? Despite the proliferation of online magazines, you might be surprised to know that more than 220 million Americans still read print magazines as of 2020. Weekly magazine People has a monthly audience of around 90 million while other top US magazines in the US reach 50 million.

If you’re looking to launch a print magazine, it’s important to research the market and decide on a niche from the outset. It’s also a good idea to build a team of writers, editors, photographers, graphic artists, and other staff early on. It’s to your advantage to create a solid business plan and a creative marketing strategy.

Although the industry is expected to grow further in the coming years, it’s wise to seriously consider the risks posed by free digital magazines and blogs. Keep in mind that providing high quality, credible, relevant, and engaging content can win the game.

13. Web Design

Web Design

Do you know of any legit business that doesn’t have a website? In today’s digital world, businesses need a decent website to be taken seriously. That’s why web design is a $40 billion industry and seeing steady growth as the number of new US businesses peaks. All those new companies need websites, which means right now is a great time to start your own web design business and design a bright future. 

If you’re not already an established graphic designer, you’ll need a bit of training. But there are many helpful options out there, including online educational platforms that offer subscriptions that allow you to take as many classes as you want. Alternatively, many universities offer affordable website design certification courses. Once that’s sorted, the next crucial step will be building your own website, which has to be fantastic or nobody will trust your skills. 

With some quality social media marketing, you should be able to rope in a client or two. Impress them and you’ll be on the road to design success.

14. Fitness

Fitness

Americans have never been more concerned about their health, which is helping drive widespread interest in achieving better fitness. The US gym and fitness industry is worth $36 billion after years of strong growth. As the pandemic recedes and people get back out there, that market expansion is expected to continue. Even if you’re not a fitness junkie, you could start your own fitness business and help people live healthier, happier lives while earning a solid income. 

You don’t even need a physical location. If you have some experience in fitness, you could begin by offering online classes, such as in yoga, Zumba or pilates. You could also offer personal training services Just be sure to get all the required licenses and permits as well as a strong insurance plan — you don’t want your new fitness business to be sidetracked by a customer injury.

15. Etsy Shop

Etsy Business
Ivan Marc / Shutterstock.com

Ever since the pandemic forced everybody to stay at home, millions of people have tapped into their arts and crafts skills, driving a massive boom in handmade goods. The online marketplace Etsy has been the main beneficiary: revenue doubled in 2020, to more than $1.72 billion. 

If you have a hobby or craft skill — such as sewing, crochet, vinyl cutting, jewelry-making, woodworking, or screen printing — you could start your own Etsy business and give people fun products while doing what you love and making good money! What’s wrong with that? 

You’ll also be able to work from home, and work the hours you choose. One good way to get started is to visit Etsy and review the product offerings looking for a market gap in your area of expertise. Once you’ve found your niche, you’ll be on the online highway to success!

16. Freelance Writing

Freelance Writing

In this age of social media and digital marketing, opportunities abound for skilled and creative writers who can connect to any audience. In the US, employment of writers and authors is projected to grow nearly 10% per year through 2030. If you’re looking to capitalize on your writing skills and creativity, you might want to consider setting up a freelance writing business. You could write or ghostwrite for magazines, books, blogs, organizations and corporate clients. 

There’s nothing easy about freelance writing, though. You’ll be competing with millions of writers around the world, so you’d have to first establish your name. Create a blog or a website, set up an account on social media and networking platforms, and connect with other writers to find your first client. It might take a lot of hard work, patience and dedication, but once you start satisfying clients, you can expect to land more contracts.

17. Babysitting

Babysitting

If you think babysitting is just for teenage girls, think again. It’s a chance to make good money while making a real difference — helping out families in need and shaping and caring for young minds. It can also be a lot of fun! What could be better than that? 

Childcare is a growing industry that offers a variety of opportunities for the entrepreneur. You could babysit in your free time to add another income stream, or you could go full-time and launch a babysitting business that offers all-day care and nannying. Your first step should be to register with your local government as a provider of childcare services, and once that’s done nail down your service offerings and prices and start your marketing. 

You could reach out to friends, family, acquaintances and work colleagues, making clear your reliability and availability. Once you’ve gotten a client or two, jump on social media and start hyping your babysitting skills on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and beyond. You could soon have so many customers you’ll have to turn some away! That’s the best kind of business problem.

18. Printing Business

Printing Business

Do you have some untapped creativity you’ve been hoping to share with the world? Printing could be a great way to do just that. Traditional printing in the US has declined in recent years, as more and more business has been done online, without the need for paper documentation. But globally, the printing industry is expected to see steady growth in the coming years, while digital printing is expected to triple by 2028. You could start your own business and ride that wave to serious success. 

There will of course be some hard work and planning involved. You’ll need to decide a market segment to focus on — it might be screen, offset, 3D or digital printing. Then you’ll need to purchase the required equipment, which could cost up to $30,000. If you short on funds you could rent the printing equipment, instead of buying. And if you have a large apartment or basement, you could initially run the business out of your home to cut costs further. Then once you’ve built a brand and started getting referrals, the orders could start rolling in and you’ll need to find a storefront and start building your printing empire.

19. Computer Repair

Computer Repair

Businesses stand to lose customers and important data whenever their computer systems are down. Properly maintaining computers through regular cleaning, hard drive updates, and virus prevention can prevent breakdowns and extend a computer’s shelf life to up to eight years, computer security firm Norton says. 

That’s why demand is high for computer maintenance and repair services. The US computer and electronics repair industry is valued at $19 billion. If you’re knowledgeable about computers and have troubleshooting skills, consider starting a computer repair business. 

This type of business can be run from home, with minimal startup and overhead costs. But you’ll still need to register your business and comply with applicable regulations. Especially if you lack a degree, obtaining certifications will increase your value and attract more clients. Computer repair technicians mostly study computer science, IT, or computer information systems. It’s also important to be abreast of the latest trends. With your impressive skills, you’ll be making big profits in no time.

20. Resume Writing

Resume Writing

You might be surprised to hear it, considering the popularity of work-related social media platforms like LinkedIn, but resume writing is still big business. Countless college graduates and established professionals alike remain unable to create an appealing, strongly written resume and are willing to pay good money — up to $300 or more — for a quality CV. If you’re a perfectionist with strong writing skills, even if you don’t have a degree, you could start your own resume writing business and help people find the job of their dreams while helping yourself to some serious success. 

You could start by reviewing some of the countless free online resume writing courses and brushing up your skills. Then you could reach out to a few friends and acquaintances and offer your resume writing services for free, or at a steep discount. Then, assuming you deliver quality work, they’ll provide you with testimonials and positive reviews and you’ll be on your way. Just be sure to keep your rates reasonable at the start, then you can increase as you build your brand, establish a reputation and add more and more skills. 

21. Proofreading

Proofreading

Do you have an eagle eye for detail? Do you easily spot grammar, spelling and punctuation errors when reading? If so, starting a proofreading business could be the perfect career for you. With the rising popularity of content marketing, demand for proofreading services has increased. Close to 8,000 proofreaders and copy editors are employed in the US and demand for proofreading services is expected to increase at least 6% annually through 2029. 

A proofreading business can be a great way to make money from home. Proofreaders do the final quality check just before a manuscript or any text is published. Your potential clients include publishing houses, newspapers and magazines, and other businesses that outsource proofreading of business documents, marketing collaterals, manuscripts, academic papers, and other content. You will need to establish a strong online presence and brush up on your networking skills to find these clients and ensure the success of your proofreading business.

22. Rideshare

Rideshare

If you’re looking for a way to make some extra cash, starting a rideshare business might be the solution. Ridesharing services, like those provided by Uber, match passengers with private vehicle drivers through websites or mobile apps. It has grown rapidly over the last decade, especially in urban areas with worsening traffic problems. One in four adult Americans turn to rideshare services at least once a month. Globally, the industry is estimated to be worth $61 billion. 

To start your own rideshare business, the first step will be developing an app that offers some advantage. But don’t worry if you’re not a developer — you can hire somebody do that part. Just keep in mind that Uber and Lyft control some 99 percent of the US market, so you’ll likely need to aggressively market your app to rideshare drivers and offer them better terms.

Of course, you will have to comply with all applicable laws and regulations. But with careful planning and brilliant marketing, your business could capture a share of the market.

23. Copywriting

Copywriting

Can you whip up a compelling article under time constraints? If so, you may want to consider starting a copywriting business. Copywriting can be a lucrative and rewarding career, and it’s an ideal business for entrepreneurs who are creative and have a strong command of the English language. Demand for copywriters is high as their services are considered essential in marketing and advertising. More than 15,000 job openings for writers, including copywriters, are expected each year through 2030 in the US. 

The biggest barrier to entry is finding clients, but it shouldn’t be difficult. Consider building your personal brand on social media by using captivating headers with great text and visuals, regularly sharing content, and keeping your posts positive and engaging. If you want to work with more than one client at a time, start by building your client list and your portfolio before taking on new projects. With a bit of creativity, you’ll be ready to jumpstart your copywriting business.

24. Graphic Design

Graphic Design

Strong graphic design is a crucial element of nearly every business’s branding and marketing strategy, which is why it’s always in great demand. After years of steady growth, the US graphic design industry is worth nearly $14 billion and offers real opportunity for the bold entrepreneur. Even without a degree, you could start your own graphic design business from home and work with clients around the world, generating good money and turning your creative passion into a successful career. 

You will, however, need to have a strong creative streak and some skill and experience with graphic design software and tools. If you don’t have a degree, brush up on your graphic design skills by taking courses at an online platform like Udemy. Next, it’s a good idea to research the market, see what sort of graphic design is trending lately, and keep an eye out for a market gap that might fit your skillset. 

Understanding and clarifying what you will offer, which businesses you are targeting and how you’ll stand out from the competition will be crucial elements to your success.

25. Mug Printing

Mug Printing

With a bit of creativity and some business savvy, you can start your own mug printing business. It’s a fun and easy-to-start business with a lot of potential. Mugs are typically used for drinking coffee and other hot drinks. If you’re an avid coffee drinker, chances are you own at least one mug. Did you know that six in 10 Americans drink coffee every day? Most Americans also prefer to receive gifts that come from the heart, such as personalized mugs.

A mug printing business requires you to invest in a mug press machine and find a reliable supplier of quality mugs and other supplies. The good news is you can run this type of business from home so you can save on overhead cost. You may invest in a computer and software to create your designs. An option is to download professionally designed templates and edit these to fit your clients’ requirements. Your designs can give you a competitive edge so you should do your best.

26. Online Billboard

Online Billboard

Spending on online billboards, also known as banner ads, is expected to continue its upward trend as the economy recovers and corporations bounce back from the pandemic. If you’ve been thinking about starting an online billboard business, now is the time. Online advertising revenue in the US was estimated at $140 billion in 2020, after a strong performance in the previous five years and even at the height of the pandemic. The market is expected to perform strongly in the coming years as internet users grow to accept online ads as part of websites, videos and podcasts. 

To get started, you could create an online billboard for a specific business like a restaurant or a retail outlet, then sell it to the targeted businesses, and customize it to complement your client’s marketing strategy. It is important that you build a creative design team that can create eye-catching images and witty messages that can be used on online billboards.

27. Delivery Service

Delivery Service

The US courier and local delivery industry was among the few sectors that performed strongly during the pandemic, as demand surged while everybody was stuck at home. The industry has grown more than 5% annually since 2017 and is predicted to expand further to nearly $135 billion in 2022. If you’re looking for business opportunities, look no further than the delivery service industry. 

Even without a degree, a successful delivery service can be run from your home, but you’ll need to buy a large car or van if you don’t have one. Keep in mind that you’ll be competing with Instacart, Amazon, Walmart, and other big companies so it’s a good idea to come up with a business plan first. Your plan should include a creative and aggressive marketing strategy. Once you’ve established your brand of service, your delivery business can be highly profitable.

28. Podcast

Podcast

The number of Americans who listen to podcasts is growing steadily every yeawr. Most are around college age and tend to prefer iTunes and Spotify. Podcasts are digital audio productions that provide entertainment, news analysis or educational information.

Starting your own podcast can be daunting, but if you can get your podcast on iTunes or Spotify, you can immediately engage millions of people not only in the US but also worldwide. Podcasts on iTunes may be streamed or downloaded on Apple devices while those on Spotify are available on both Android and iOS, desktops, smartphones, smart TVs and even gaming consoles. 

Submitting your podcasts for upload on iTunes or Spotify is easy, but the challenge is getting an audience to listen to you since you’ll be competing against popular podcasters with tens of thousands of loyal listeners.

29. Videography

Videography

More than 8,000 annual job openings for film and video editors and camera operators are projected in the US through 2030, making this one of the fastest growing sectors. Globally, the massive film and video market is predicted to double by the end of this decade. You don’t need a relevant degree. If you have some video production and editing skills, you might consider setting up a videography business. With the increasing use of videos in the digital marketing landscape, there will probably be no dearth of opportunities for you.

Starting a videography business is not easy, but it’s not impossible either. First, it’s important to develop your brand and come up with an attractive business name and logo. Next, invest in the right equipment and get yourself a bit of experience, even if it’s shooting your friend’s student film. To promote your brand, you can set up social media accounts, make video samples and develop a website. Finally, tap into your creativity to propel your business to the top. Grab that opportunity to make a profit now!

30. Translation Business

Translation Business

Demand for translation services is expected to grow as more companies seek to capture or increase their share of the global market. In the US, more than 10,000 new jobs for interpreters and translators are expected each year through 2030. They translate documents, localize websites, and interpret speech from one language to another, including sign language.

If you’re thinking about starting a translation business, you’re not alone. But if you have strong language skills, you could edge out the competition. In this internet age, finding translators who can work remotely across the globe has become easier. Do the paperwork to register your business, keep yourself updated with the latest technologies, promote your services, and you should be able to gain traction as soon as you start operating.