Forget Extracurriculars: Start Your Business Right Now.

Forget Extracurriculars: Start Your Business Right Now.
Lauren Ward
on March 15, 2020
Read in 3 min

Many people dream of becoming their own boss one day, but it’s never too early to start working towards that goal.

Whether you need money for books or simply have the entrepreneurial itch, it’s entirely possible to start a business while still enrolled in school.

Read on for college startup ideas, tips for college students, and a few potential pitfalls to avoid as a student entrepreneur.

The Many Advantages to Starting a Business in College

You might not have access to the same resources once you graduate, so take advantage of the following while you can:

Business Grants

If you need capital to get your business off the ground, look for a business grant to use as funding.

Unlike a loan, there’s no accrued interest and you don’t have to repay the funds.

The SBA offers a search tool to find applicable grant programs you can apply for but you may also find local grants available through your school or chamber of commerce.

Alternately, there are national, regional, and college-specific business plan competitions which award cash prizes you can use towards your business idea–

Check with your University’s College of Business to see what’s available to college entrepreneurs.

College Incubator Programs

Maybe you’ve been toying with an idea for a revolutionary app or you want to scale your artistic creations with an Etsy shop.

If you lack space, technology, or guidance check to see if your college has an incubator program.

Many schools offer creative spaces, labs, and even funding programs to get you started.

It’s a low-cost way to tap into the resources you need.

Real-Life Experience

If you want to truly learn the ins and outs of entrepreneurship, you’ve got to experience them for yourself.

A professor can teach you why you should or why you shouldn’t do something, but it’s never going to stick until you learn it firsthand.

Knowledge is ingrained in every fiber of your being when you learn through experience.

Not Much to Lose

Yes, you could lose money depending on what idea you come up with for your business, but overall you have very little to lose.

Why? Because if everything goes south you simply put all of your energy back into your education.

And while you may worry about making time to do it all, think about how often you’re on your smartphone being unproductive.

Use your time a little more efficiently and you could grow a thriving business.

RELATED: How to Follow Your Dreams When Your Family Doesn’t Support You

Business Ideas with Low Startup Costs Are Best for College Student Entrepreneurs

  • Start a Moving Company. You don’t need much to get started, just a couple of friends with muscle and a U-haul truck.
  • Photograph Professionally. Put your Instagram skills to good use by snapping photos of families, engagements, and weddings. 
  • Become a Nanny: Parents often need help with their kids in the afternoons, evenings, and weekends, which can be a great schedule around your classes.
  • Tutor Your Classmates: Or tap into your local public schools and find younger students who need help in your favorite subjects.
  • Start Cleaning Houses: Easy to scale, you can start off by yourself and hire employees as your client list begins to grow.

But There are Still Dangers to Starting a Business in College

Despite the benefits, there are some downsides to consider before becoming a college entrepreneur.

Distracting from Studies

Ultimately, you’re still paying for education while in college.

Don’t get so engrossed by your business that you neglect your academics, otherwise, you run the risk of hurting your grades and even your chances of graduating.

Potential Burnout

Running a business and keeping up with your school work may get to be overwhelming, so never push yourself to the point where your health suffers.

Remember to take time to recharge and do things that are fun and just for you.

Precarious Finances

While the startup ideas listed here are fairly inexpensive, you might encounter additional business expenses if you choose another path or need more capital to expand.

Taking out a personal loan for business or overspending when you already have student loans could put your finances in shaky territory.

Make sure you have a back-up plan for your worst-case scenario; smart entrepreneurs plan ahead.

Can You Start A Business In College? Yes.

And there are a lot of great ways to start your own business while still attending school.

As long as you stay on top of all your responsibilities, you can build your current income while laying a strong foundation for your post-graduate life.

Lauren Ward Finance Journalist

Lauren Ward is a freelance content writer focusing on personal finance, real estate, and lending.

Her work has been featured on Huffington Post, CBS News, and Kiplinger.

She previously worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond as well as several national non-profit organizations.

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