Are you an aspiring student entrepreneur — or perhaps the last wave of bills cut a little too close for comfort? Sounds like you’re a university student in need of a new business plan.
University education may set you up for life, but getting through your degree can be a stressful slog, especially if you’re feeling low on funds.
In this article, we explore the following small business ideas for students that help express your passions and lift you out of overdraft, from podcasting to tutoring.
Read on as we explore these student business ideas and discover how you can adapt them to suit your university lifestyle.
1. Explore your passions by starting a podcast
The university experience is all about exploring your passions and learning more about yourself. As such, starting a podcast is a great entrepreneurial idea for students, which also sees you tap into inner curiosities and spark interesting conversations.
Some of the best podcasts inspire creative spirit — and starting your own at university could see you in good stead for the future, even if you don’t end up landing a big Spotify deal.
Know this: you don’t need fancy equipment to start a podcast.
You only need two things in your podcast toolbox:
- A phone to record with: today’s smartphones double up as handheld recording devices — simply pull up voice memos on iPhone (or the Voice Recorder app for Android) and hold the phone a few inches away from your subject. There you have a serviceable microphone.
- A computer/laptop with sound editing software: after recording your interviews and conversations you’ll need to mix all the sound files. You do this by downloading a cheap editing software like Audacity — and don’t worry, there’s plenty of online tutorials around to show you the ropes.
While there’s no magic formula for acquiring an army of dedicated listeners, getting your creation out into the world has never been easier.
Websites like YouTube and Soundcloud are some of the most cost-effective and wide-reaching platforms, allowing you to go out on your own without the support of a podcast network.
The ways to get your podcast out into the world are numerous; you could even contact your student union and see if they can help promote episodes or play them around campus buildings.
Top tip: Every good podcast needs a theme. Maybe you’re a fantasy football manager wanting to talk tactics, or a charismatic host looking to interview the most exciting and powerful figures around campus? Think hard about your niche and use this to build your podcast.
2. Become a fashion seller on Depop
Selling your pre-loved clothes on Depop (or indeed any second-hand online marketplace) has a lot of upsides for aspiring entrepreneurs — particularly your average university student looking to earn some extra cash on the side.
Flipping your old clothes is a great business plan for students, which ticks all the boxes:
- Saves you from a maxed-out overdraft
- Encourages sustainable fashion
- Frees up some much-needed wardrobe space
This is a great option if you love fashion, want to help make fashion sustainable by selling pre-loved clothes, and want to work on your entrepreneurial skills at the same time.
The simplicity, however, is what makes this one of the best entrepreneurial ideas for students. All you need is a phone with a seller app installed (we like Depop because it’s where student garms sell best) and a wardrobe filled with old clothes you don’t wear anymore.
Moreover, becoming a fashion seller is one of the few income generators that take very little time away from your studies. Some students like Millie Jane have grown their Depop escapades into a net profit of £40,000, in part because of the support she’s received from Leed University.
Top tip: Feeling inspired to become the next five-star seller? Add to your stock by visiting charity shops — keep an eye out for hidden gems and flip them for a profit online.
3. Consider tutoring using the expertise from your course
Tutoring is a stellar student business idea bound to withstand the test of time.
Whatever you’re studying — mathematics, literature, computing or anything in between — chances are you’ve soaked in enough subject knowledge to tutor a younger student. But first of all, you need a pupil to teach.
Luckily, the options you have as a tutor are numerous:
- Contact a local college’s peer tutoring centre
- Promote your services online
- Apply and register as a tutor through your university
The benefits are great too:
- Well paid
- Flexible hours
- Great work experience
- Helps support your studies
Sounds like the perfect student business idea, right? Well, almost…
Even though tutoring is accessible and comes with a ton of upsides, teaching work isn’t for everyone — and the best tutors need to exhibit a few key skills:
- Patience: everyone learns at their own pace. It’s crucial to stay calm and try not to force your tutee into understanding something
- Strong communication: you need to engage your pupils (especially over webcam), as well as keeping their parents in the loop
- Knowledge of exam techniques: in all likelihood, you’ll be readying someone for their upcoming exams, so you need a good knowledge of exam techniques and match one to your pupil based on their strengths
Tutoring roles, though flexible, also take up a lot of your time. However, if you free up the hours and tick all the boxes, it can be a prosperous business idea for students.
Top tip: Happy customers create more opportunities. Once you get your foot in the door, a lot of your tutoring work can come from word of mouth. Take time to develop a strong relationship with your clients and reap the rewards down the line.
4. Promote and organise student events
The social scene often defines the student lifestyle. You have to get stuck in to make the most of your university experience — so why can’t a budding entrepreneur like yourself capitalise on this opportunity?
It’s a great student business idea to champion events around campus because there’s always something going on: club nights, pub quizzes, careers fair, fundraisers, city tours, public talks and workshops, just to name a few.
Although you don’t need an event’s management degree to get involved in the social scene, you do require a few major traits to make a success out of this student business idea:
- Exceptional communication skills
- Strong organisational skills
- Serviceable business, marketing and finance knowledge
Think you tick all the boxes? All these traits and skills can be learned through experience, but as a student you’ll be learning from scratch — so a passion for the job and an ability to seek out support is an absolute must.
Approach your student union with an idea and they can likely lend a helping hand with key areas like the venue and some promotional tools — but remember it’ll be you who does the heavy lifting.
Up for the challenge? Think of organising university events as an investment in your future rather than a get-rich-quick scheme. Here are some elements of the role:
- Finding a venue
- Liaising with sponsors
- Marketing and advertising the event
- Identifying and hiring vendors
Top tip: Often it’s good to get the local community involved and bridge the gap between your area and the university. For example, contact local musicians, experts, charities and businesses to either sponsor or take part in your event in some way.
5. Set up a babysitting service
Naturally good with kids and have a responsible personality? Setting up a babysitting service could be the perfect student business opportunity. There’s a constant demand for babysitters, which could earn you a reliable income during your studies.
The benefits of setting up a babysitting service as a university student include:
- Well-paid work
- Good experience for someone training to work with children
However, not many students have a strong connection with their local community outside of the university bubble. So how can you find new babysitting opportunities?
Here are a few ways to get a babysitting gig at uni:
- Start with people you know
- Get business cards and pin them to university notice boards
- Join online communities
Signing up to an agency is also a reliable way to get paid work. However, if you’re new to the babysitting game it can be hard to get accepted without a prior experience.
Top tip: Get a DBS check to help boost confidence in your service. These checks are used by professionals, and reassure parents you can be trusted around their children, which will make finding a job much easier. Be warned, however — they take a while to process and cost around twenty quid for the privilege.
Whether you’re an aspiring student entrepreneur or simply after a little more cash to pay the bills, taking up a new side hustle can help you out without taking up too much study time.
From becoming a podcaster to minding children, use these great student business ideas to inspire your entrepreneurial journey through university.