Although you might traditionally associate higher education with late-night study sessions, intellectually challenging tutorials and, of course, the wearing of togas to social occasions, university is not just about academic growth. Indeed, a foray into business can be hugely beneficial for students at both college and university level.
As well as generating some much-needed revenue, involvement in a small side venture also helps to develop the key skills and characteristics that can benefit your career in the long term, as well as essential entrepreneurial qualities such as discipline, creativity and dedication.
To help you begin your business venture, we've compiled a small list of simple business ideas for students.
1. Social Media Management
Young academics can capitalise on their experience with - and understanding of - Instagram, Twitter and Facebook by providing social media management services for local businesses. This can involve setting up and posting relevant content on existing products, such as updates, sales promotions, and responses to customer reviews or questions.
Understanding how young consumers react to a brand's online presence is a student's key asset in this scenario, equipping them with valuable intuition regarding content that attracts attention. Students should target smaller businesses which depend on consumers within their local community, and sell their social media expertise as having the potential to impact sales positively.
With social networking mobile apps offering the ultimate flexibility, content can be shared and managed on an ad-hoc basis from just about anywhere.
For English, literature, language and linguistics students, writing is a great business option, particularly in the digital realm where demand for unique and freshly written content is enormous.
Students can, therefore, offer their services as external article contributors to a wide variety of websites and print publications, focusing on topics relevant to younger readers. Working on short articles should feel very familiar to students involved in language or literature studies.
The nature of this writing contribution means that articles can be written remotely, from the comfort of home, with routine time-management and preparation required.
3. Graphic Design
For those with a creative hand, freelance graphic design can be a profitable side business. Many organisations require design work on a part-time basis to create promotional flyers, banners, adverts, packaging designs and more. Students in architecture or design will likely already have the imaging software needed to create these layouts and possess both the experience and the flair required for producing new and exciting work.
Attractive designs are sure to get freelancers referred to more clients, too, so students can utilise their free time to build both a professional portfolio and a profitable side business.
4. Event Promotion
Outgoing students can take advantage of their charisma and network of contacts to try their hand at event promotion. As is typical of areas with a condensed student population, many restaurants, bars and clubs will frequently host events tailored to this audience. Interested students can promote events both in-person and online for a fee, as well as receive an additional commission on each event ticket they sell.
This simple idea requires a minimal time investment - just the natural personable skills to convince friends and acquaintances to attend local events.
5. Sports/Fitness Training
Although sport is a big part of higher education, maintaining the necessary drive and passion for participating can be difficult, as educational schedules and responsibilities can take valuable time away from training. One solution to this is hiring the services of a dedicated trainer who can continually provide motivation.
Trainers can work with peers, younger students or even university staff to work on fitness, technique or strategy. Typically requiring a fixed schedule, sessions can be slotted into students' weekly programmes, maintaining their fitness and fulfilling their passion for their chosen sports - all while making a profit in the process.
Higher education is, above all else, meant to be academically challenging; therefore, it makes sense that some students will need a helping hand along the way. Whether that entails technical skills, such as programming, language skills or even just somebody to discuss complex concepts with, there is a market for tutors.
Students can advertise their services in subject areas that they feel familiar with and confident of, and guide others through academic challenges in particular areas. Indeed, their understanding and recent experiences of learning the material make students competent tutors for peers of various ages, with sessions easily tailored to the tutor's schedule.
7. Online Reselling
Although there have been subtle changes, the popularity of eCommerce platforms continues to grow. With a variety of online marketplaces now populating the industry, there are many options for users to join platforms as sellers, sourcing unique, in-demand items and selling them online for a profit.
Items for resale can be found offline, too, at local street markets, charity stores or purchased wholesale and resold in smaller quantities. An excellent option for students who have experience with online shopping in this format, you can keep your spend on stock and inventory low to reduce risk if items are not sold quickly.
Stock options include clothing, homeware, accessories, furniture, jewellery and sports gear, plus niche categories that are in demand such as handmade, wooden, vintage and more.
The rise of peer-to-peer ridesharing through dedicated mobile apps has made it simple and easy for anybody to turn their regular rides into a way to make a small profit. Students with a car and flexible study schedule can sign up to an app and pick up ride requests in their local area, or even create their own app and circulate it around campus.
With the option to pre-determine details such as drivers' desired area parameters, available hours and ride distances, this option is excellent for students who are looking for a short commitment at their convenience.
9. Content Creation
Blogging, vlogging, podcasting; content creation has evolved significantly in the millennial age, and its consumption demand continues to rise. Anybody can now use online social media platforms to document their lives, showcase their unique character or discuss particular topics to gain a following. With such popularity comes monetisation opportunities, including adverts on video content, brand collaborations, company sponsorships and affiliate marketing.
Conducted wherever and whenever - all you need is a phone and an internet connection, after all - this has become the most fluid form of content creation, and the fastest-growing profitable small business for students and young people across the globe.
In a similar vein, if you possess knowledge of how to attract social media followers, the ability to create unique content and an insight into digital marketing techniques, then a side gig as an influencer could be highly profitable.
Regardless of how you build up your audience, once you have eyes on what you're doing, advertisers will become interested. This is a great way to attract a lot of revenue for little effort, so if you've got a decent Instagram following, why not consider monetising it?
Investing time in a side business can be extremely beneficial for students. In addition to earning an income, you can gain valuable skills such as time management, professional communication, and prioritising responsibilities.
As is the nature of the new digital era, the majority of these business ideas can be executed online, lending a flexibility and convenience that is well suited to young academics. In exchange for your efforts during your free time, you can also develop an entrepreneurial outlook on life and business, which may positively shape your professional aspirations and enrich your career before it has even begun.
Are you juggling university with a business? What small business ideas for students would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below.