15 Flexible Business Ideas for Students: Inspiring Ideas to Start in College

15 Flexible Business Ideas for Students: Inspiring Ideas to Start in College

College can be a great time for students to explore business opportunities. In this article, we’re going to share 15 flexible business ideas for students to discover. These business ideas are good options to work around the busy schedule of a college student.

College kids are young, full of energy, and they also can have a lot of drive and ambition, making them perfect for starting a business. Launching a business is a good way for students to network, create a money-making business venture, and make extra money.

We’ll break down online and offline business ideas for students, covering:

  • What each business idea is about
  • How it works
  • Requirements
  • Income potential

Let’s get to it!

Online Business Ideas for Students

Here are 8 online business ideas for students to explore. Check them out.

1. Blogger

blogger

Blogging is one of the best business ideas for students because of its flexibility. It’s about running websites, usually revolving around a niche, like gardening, finance, food, or another topic. You’ll write blog posts about the niche, attracting an audience online, which will bring traffic to your website.

Affiliate Lab is an excellent resource to look into for ranking your blog in high-competition niches. The skills you learn for ranking your site with SEO will help you drive targeted traffic to your blog and make money blogging.

Then, you can monetize the traffic through:

  • Online ads
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Selling products and services
  • Sponsored posts (or brand deals)

With over half a billion blogs in existence and 76% of content marketers using content for lead generation, blogging is still as popular as ever and an excellent business idea to pursue.

Blogging can be incredibly rewarding and an enjoyable business to run. It’s a solopreneur business that is introvert-friendly and can be very lucrative. 

While around a third of bloggers don’t earn any income at all, on the other end of that scale are top bloggers who make millions per year, like successful business owner and blogger Adam Enfroy

Average salary: $35/hr


2. Online Tutoring

Online tutoring is about helping students with their studies virtually. This can happen over the phone or via web conferences like Zoom meetings. This is good for college kids who excel in subjects like math, science, language, or other subjects. Online tutoring is also a nice fit for students who enjoy helping others.

Launch an online tutoring business and take on as many clients as you wish. This can be a business that can be scaled as well. 

You can hire freelance tutors to help your expanding client base and continue to tutor yourself, or outsource all tutoring completely and manage the whole operation from behind the scenes.

Average salary: $28/hr


3. Content Creator

content creator

Content creators are people who create content online for a living.

This can be:

  • Social media image posts
  • Social videos
  • UGC (user-generated content)

This is a growing profession, with as many as 50 million people contributing to the creator economy in 2023.

Content creation is excellent for creatives who are social media savvy and who also enjoy the process of creating content. This can be a great business idea for a social media influencer with a lot of social followers. 

Content creation is also a fit for people who may not have any followers on social media, as you can still create UGC content for brands and companies.

Average salary: $40,700


4. Virtual Assistant

virtual assistant

Virtual assistants are online assistants that offer administrative, technical, and creative support to their clients. Companies and professionals outsource specific tasks to virtual assistants (VA’s) like:

  • Calendar scheduling and management
  • Content creation
  • Web support
  • Email management

Working as a VA has a lot of flexibility, which is perfect for a college student. You’ll have the ability to choose the clients you work with and work as much or as little as you wish based on your client load.

Here’s a list of the 35 best virtual assistant jobs for beginners to get you started. 

Average salary: $24/hr


5. Dropshipping

dropshipping

Dropshipping is an e-commerce business model that eliminates your handling of the shipping and fulfillment process. It’s startup cost-friendly and a business that college students can easily launch and run.

  • Choose a niche: Do market research and decide what kinds of products you’ll dropship, like consumer electronics, toys, apparel, etc.
  • Source your goods: Locate your dropshipping supplier and get setup
  • Setup your store: Choose an e-commerce store platform like Shopify and set up your store (i.e., add products, create a shipping policy page, etc.)
  • Marketing: Promote to find potential customers
  • Launch: Go live

There are other things to consider, like creating a business plan, potentially hiring a team, marketing, etc.

Dropshipping can be a very lucrative business. Dropshippers like Chad Brinkle make $4k/month dropshipping car parts and accessories.

Read about how you can start a dropshipping business with no money and still see results!

Average salary: $19/hr


6. Transcription

transcription

Transcription is one of the top business ideas for students who are introverts. It’s about typing what you hear from an audio file into a written transcript.

For example, you might be given an audio file of legal proceedings that you’ll need to type into a written transcript.

Transcription is also used in professions and industries like:

  • Teaching
  • Journalism
  • Podcasting
  • Medical

This is one of the best business ideas for students who don’t have experience or a degree. You can either get with a transcription company that will train you and give you jobs to work as an independent contractor. 

Or, you can start your own transcription company by gaining valuable skills and education from a transcription course like TranscribeAnywhere, then setting out to find clients and run your business.

Average salary: $51,300


7. Selling Handmade Goods

If you’re looking for creative business ideas for students, create and sell handmade goods on a platform like Etsy.

There are so many different things you can create to resell, like:

  • Knit blankets
  • Baked goods
  • Digital templates
  • Pottery

If you’re crafty, this online business might be right up your alley.

Average salary: $41,400


8. Social Media Manager

social media manager

Social media management can be an online or offline business idea for students. Do it entirely online, connecting with clients virtually over email, phone, and web conference. You can also work with a local business and meet them face-to-face, or do both!

Social media managers help manage the social media presence of others. This can include:

  • Creating and executing a content calendar
  • Responding to fan/subscriber messages and DMs
  • Managing one or more social media accounts
  • Growing the follower count

Social media management is one of the most flexible work-from-home jobs out there! This is a great business idea that’s perfect for college and university students who are social media savvy and enjoy working on social media projects for others.

Average salary: $58,100

Offline Business Ideas for Students

Now, let’s get into offline business ideas for students! These are businesses where you’ll show up in person. Instead of being tied to a computer, you’ll be in the field, on your feet, in a face-to-face environment!

9. Babysitter

babysitter

Babysitting is a great option for a college student business. You’ll babysit children while their parents are away (don’t miss our guide on how to start a babysitting business). This may involve:

  • Coordinating and supervising play activities (like going to the park, playing with kids in the backyard, etc.)
  • Preparing snacks and meals
  • Helping with the bedtime routine (like preparing a bath, helping kids brush their teeth, etc.)

If you love kids and/or have experience with children, this can be an enjoyable and rewarding business idea to consider. 

Average salary: $18/hr


10. Delivery Driving

delivery driving

For students who have regular access to a car or truck, consider delivery driving.

There are different kinds of delivery jobs you can do:

  • Drive for Uber/Lyft and taxi passengers to their destination
  • Deliver food with Doordash, UberEATS, and other apps
  • Grocery delivery with Instacart or Shipt
  • Deliver construction materials/goods with Curri

Another option is to start a delivery business of your own.

This 5-step guide will show you how to start a delivery company.

Average salary: $18/hr


11. Personal Training

Personal training is a small business idea where you’ll work in a fitness setting with clients one-on-one to help them get in shape. They train and coach their clients on workout moves and exercises to help them achieve their fitness goals.

This is one of the best offline business ideas for students who have experience with weight training, fitness routines, or just have a passion and interest in physical fitness.

You can build a personal training business with relatively low startup costs compared to other business types. But you will likely need a certification to work as a personal trainer, depending on your area.

Average salary: $66,400


12. Pet Sitting

pet sitting

Animal lovers would really enjoy running a pet-sitting business. You’ll watch over and take care of pets while their owners are away. Responsibilities might include:

  • Dog walking
  • Light grooming
  • Feeding pets and administering medicine

It’s like getting paid to play with animals. Sign up to pet sitting/walking companies like Wag and Rover, or you could launch your own pet-sitting company.

Pet sitting is one of the best self-employed jobs to earn a good income quickly.

Average salary: $15/hr


13. Photography

photography

One of the most in-demand jobs today, with industry growth up to 43 billion dollars in 2023 is photography!

Photography is a good job for creatives who like capturing the world around them through images.

This isn’t typically a low-investment business, but it is a rewarding business that comes with things like the opportunity to travel and getting paid to indulge in a passion you have.

Average salary: $18/hr


14. House Cleaner

house cleaner

A house cleaner works alone or in a team, cleaning houses.

  • Move-in and move-out cleans
  • Maintenance cleaning like mopping, vacuuming, window cleaning, etc.
  • Garage and attic space cleaning

If you’re well-organized and want a business where you can work with your hands and that will keep you busy, house cleaning is an option.

Average salary: $18/hr


15. Mover

mover

Movers help people move their things. This can be a move-in or move-out that you’re helping with, loading and unloading heavy home goods and boxes into or out of a home. You can also be hired to do heavy moving, like moving in a refrigerator or helping move a piano.

When I think of college business ideas for students, moving is one of the first businesses that comes to mind. This is a good one to do with fellow students or friends.

People are always moving, so you’ll always be in high demand. Services like Angi, Thumbtack, and others are good options for finding moving clients.

Average salary: $18/hr

What Is The Best Small Business In School?

The best small business for a student entrepreneur to run would be one that is:

  • Flexible: This should be a business that you can work around your busy college schedule.
  • Scaleable: The best business ideas are those that can be scaled, which allows for long-term growth.
  • Affordable: A no-startup cost or low-startup cost business would be ideal for a young entrepreneur college student to run, since they may not have access to resources and money to invest that older adults have.
  • In line with your passions and interests: This business opportunity should align with your passion, skills, interests, and expertise, which will drive your motivation.

What Is The Cheapest Most Profitable Business To Start?

The cheapest, most profitable business ideas for students are service-based businesses.

Some examples include:

  • Content creator
  • Social media manager
  • Virtual assistant

Blogging is worth mentioning as well. Though a self-hosted blog can’t be started without a small investment, the startup costs are very low. You can start a blog for under $250.

Bottom Line

There you go! We just covered 15 business ideas for students at the college level! Browse our list of online and offline business ideas to see which business path catches your attention.

Choosing a small business idea that aligns with your interests and passions helps work not feel like work, making the process more enjoyable.

Overall, you want to consider your strengths, skills, and also your goals when deciding what startup idea you’ll go with.

I hope this roundup gave you some inspiration and some small business ideas you hadn’t thought of.

Which business idea do you think you’ll be going with?

Tran Danh

Tran Danh

I'm Tran Danh, the author behind Smart Passive Income (SPI), a blog dedicated to online business and entrepreneurship. I started this blog in 2008, following in the footsteps of Pat Flynn, the founder. Being one of the leading business blogs globally, SPI attracts over 2 million readers each month. Through my content, I aim to assist individuals in generating passive income from various online sources. Join me on this transformative journey as we delve into the world of online business and uncover the strategies and tactics that have led to tremendous success for myself and countless others.

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