Tuesday 12 March 2013

The entrepreneurial student – ten ways to supplement your income while studying

Now has never been a better time for tertiary students to start a business.  Much more than the graduates of the past couple of decades, current students need to be prepared to find ways to supplement their incomes. Let’s face it; the cost of living continues to increase every year and the job market is a tough place to break into, making it harder for students to make ends meet while they are studying and to find a job after they’ve finished. 
Launching a business while you’re studying sets you up for success.  Here are ten business ideas you can start while you’re studying that shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg to set up.  You can use one of these ideas or come up with your own.  Some of them may work better than others, or may not work at all, depending on your personal circumstances.   So choose wisely, and remember to adjust quickly if the business you start isn’t growing.
Before we start, let’s look at some quick tips for creating a successful student business:

* Innovation is good but it can also be overrated.  Don’t feel like you have to come up with the next big idea. The main idea is to start a simple business that generates a profit.  And that’s the main idea.
* Pick an idea that has an immediate and obvious customer base that needs or strongly wants what you plan to sell. Ask yourself if there is a demand for your product or service.
* After your initial investment, don’t put any more outside money into the business.  That’s your test for whether you’re succeeding.  The business needs to pay for itself and pay you.  Once you start, the business should generate enough for you to reinvest into the business and then begin to pay yourself.  If you see things dwindling, figure out whether you need to adjust prices, offerings, or do more marketing and selling.  Pay attention to customer inquiries and demands. They will lead you in the right direction.
* Remember the business is a great experience but it’s not the main reason you are on campus.  You are there to get a great education.  So develop discipline and time management skills that will allow you to go to class, get good results and still operate your business in your free time.

Our 10 student business ideas:

1. Tutoring service – if you’re attending university or college on a scholarship or bursary and know a required subject very well, consider start a tutoring service for local elementary or high school students who want to get into a good university or college like you.
2. Staffing service specializing in internships – start an on-campus staffing service where you help local or national businesses connect with the best students for internships and help students who want to do internships find the best opportunity.
3. Personal training service – are you athletic and into sports?  Think about starting a personal training service for students wanting to get fit and active.
4. Graphic arts and design services for presentations and papers – if you enjoy graphic arts and presentation design and you’re good at it, think about offering these services to students (and perhaps lecturers too) who want to jazz up their research and reports.
5. CV writing service – are you good at finding the best angles to present information? Start a CV writing service helping students put their experience in the best possible format and phrasing to attract interview and career opportunities.
6. Hair styling and grooming services – provide hair cuts or hair styling as a mobile hairdresser or stylist.
7. Babysitting service – if you know how to look after children and you’re responsible and reliable, starting a small au pair business could be an easy way to make extra income.
8. Bookkeeping service – if you’re studying accounting and have a love for numbers offer to keep books for a few small local businesses or find customers online.
9. Photography and video services – if you have a great eye for composing scenes and images consider starting a photography and video service. You can offer your services to students and faculty, take photos and videos of campus events and help local businesses produce and post videos online.
10. T-shirt company – really cool t-shirts just never get old and they’re the standard uniform for lots of college students. Come up with neat designs or funny sayings or create custom shirts for on-campus organisations and find someone to print the shirts for you and you’re in business!

Are you a student thinking about starting a small business? What do you think about these ideas? What are you excited about, or maybe scared about? Tell us what you think in the comments section below!

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