The Best Small Businesses for College Students

Hamed Masoumi Hossein Ghodsi via Compfight

As a college student, you may want to earn money but can’t find a job that’s flexible enough for your schedule. Self-employment offers more flexibility and independence, however it isn’t always easy. Some small businesses require a considerable investment of money to get started, but not  if you already have a skill, interest or hobby that you can turn into your own money-making enterprise. Here are some of the best small business ideas for college students:


Tutoring is the obvious part-time job choice for a college student because many students feel overwhelmed with the more challenging material. If you’re an excellent student in math, science or foreign languages your services should be in especially high demand. Advertise by putting flyers in residence halls, the library, cafeteria or student union.

Computer Repair

Almost everyone relies on computers for essential functions, from bill paying to completing assignments. Therefore, a computer problem can be not only a considerable annoyance, but also lead to lost productivity. Knowing how to fix a computer is a highly valuable skill and can be turned into a profitable side business for a college student. You can market your services to other students by posting flyers in common spaces or to individuals and businesses via word-of-mouth or direct contact.

Graphic/Web Design

Graphic and web designers are needed by almost every organization, from non-profits to small businesses. If you have the ability to create custom graphics and logos and/or design webpages, your services will be in high demand. Graphic/web design is also a great choice for college students because most of the work can be done at any time. You can find work on freelance websites or by contacting local businesses directly.


Capturing a special moment in someone’s life is a fun and fulfilling job. If you love photography and have the right equipment, turn your hobby into a small business. Start doing photo shoots with friends and family for free, and build up a portfolio of your work. Once you have a good portfolio with a variety of work, you can start advertising your business. Since most events take place on weekends or in the evening, it’s the perfect part-time job for a college student.

Dog Walking

If you love animals and being outside, then consider dog walking as a side business. Most dogs need to be walked daily, and very active dogs may need to be walked more than once. Dog walking can be done in the mornings before class or in the evenings after classes, so it’s a great fit for a college student.


House or apartment cleaning has to be done but is rarely enjoyable. Many people are too tired or busy to clean, and division of responsibilities can cause conflicts among family members or roommates. Therefore, housekeeping services can be a great luxury for a variety of households. If you’re meticulous enough to be a thorough cleaner and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, housekeeping may be a great part-time job option. You can schedule your appointments around classes, and choose how many clients to take on based on your other commitments.

Lawn Care

A lot of busy homeowners would appreciate having their yard work taken care of but may not want to pay for a pricey lawn care service. You can target middle class or retired individuals that don’t have time or aren’t physically able to do their own yard work,  offering your services for a lower cost than larger competitors. Some lawn care businesses have their own equipment, but most people will have their own equipment that you may use.

Selling Handmade Goods

Whether you love to make jewelery or custom cell phone cases, college is the perfect time to start selling your creations. Once you graduate and get a job, you may not have as much time and flexibility to get your business off the ground. You can start by selling online at sites like Etsy or Ebay. Arts and crafts fairs are  also great places to promote your goods. Make sure you do the math before starting to sell, you don’t want the costs to outweigh the income.

For some guidance on starting your business, read Small Business For Dummies