Here are 25 business ideas for universty students. You can start today now…
My flatmate and I did this throughout our time at university buying tablet computers from China and selling them on eBay. A friend of mine made a fortune buying white headphones (iPhone style) in huge bulk and selling them individually.
Another friend purchased jewellery making kits, made the jewellery and sold it individually. Pick something that works, do it at scale and invest in some envelopes/parcels etc and you’re on your way.
2-GPS tracking business
The £2.26 billion GPS tracking industry is taking off in big ways, and luckily there’s a lot of room for new entrants. It has low competition and lots of room for niching down: you have options to focus on many segments including family and pet GPS tracking, consumer vehicles, expensive equipment, business fleets, governmental/NGO, and much more.
Even better, you don’t have to develop your own hardware or even your own software. You can simply sell GPS trackers by dropshipping or buy them in bulk. Then, you can combine GPS tracking hardware with white label software, put your own branding on it, and sell it all as a package (this is one of the newer top startup business idea propositions for this year).
This section of the guide is about business ideas, not simply ways to make money. Yes, you can become a nightlife promoter for an existing promo company overnight, but why be the little guy?
Did you know that if you have a big social media following, access to a network (like a society) and some good branding (simple design), you can pitch to run your own events? Pick the quietest night of the week and approach a big venue with a solid plan. For zero upfront hiring fees you can get a shot at running your own promotions company, make it work and before you know it, you’ll be running events all over the city.
If you’re reading this guide word-for-word, you’ve probably realised a recurring theme… playing to student seasonality. Just as students need to move every year (see cleaning, removals), seniors go to Prom every year in the thousands.
Makeup artists cost a tonne of money, so if you’re a dab hand at makeup, invest in some quality product and start hitting up all the female-focused sports clubs and societies to get clients.
When I was at school, I joined the gym for £100 ($124) for the entire year! The problem? I had no idea what I was doing. I would’ve gladly paid for a personal trainer. In regular gyms, PTs can charge up to £100 an hour for a session (same as the ANNUAL membership fee). Set up shop closer to £20 ($25) an hour and you’ll crush it.
Students love to budget, be that wearing a duvet as a coat to avoid heating bills, or eating beans on toast every day for a year. Having a small budget for food doesn’t mean you have to be unhealthy.
Put some time into researching cost-effective, healthy meals, and you pave the way for nutritionist revenue. Maybe you could partner with the Fitness Instructor and sell a joint package.
This could have gone under Entertainment, but it can be wider reaching than that. There are plenty of businesses around the country that specialise in flyer/leaflet distribution.
I believe you can letterbox drop these things without the need for any license, but if you’re planning on handing them out in a busy place, make sure you have the required paperwork. Your initial clients should be nightclubs and other student businesses.
Just like laundry, this is a classic *lazy economy*. As a student, you need food. Supermarkets can charge £5 for 3-day delivery. You could charge £2 per person per £20 worth of food (to manage weight/complexity) and go every day.
Amazon makes a killing on 2-hour delivery slots in London – this isn’t that far away! This could be further extended into general delivery, such as delivery from any dept store which would otherwise take a week. However, be careful and don’t spend all your time making hardly anything! You need a scale for this to work.
In my first semester at Southampton, somebody in my building almost burnt the apartment down by putting a pizza in the oven and forgetting about it. Amazingly, somebody else in the same building later tried to cook pasta without any water and fell asleep… cue the fire engines.
Students don’t have enough income to hire a full-time chef, but for weekly dinners (we had flat lunch every Wednesday) or special occasions (Easter, Christmas, dates, anniversaries) there’s probably a market if you know your way around the kitchen.
This is a bracket term that can include so many different items, but I’m talking about supplying venues and promoters with what they need to run events without the hassle of actually running them.
Perhaps you’re a DJ or a band; maybe you own the equipment, maybe you own a foam machine. Become the go-to supplier for every venue for the big events of the year, and you’ll have an easily scalable business. If you take the equipment route though, there are obvious costs, unlike the majority of things in this guide.
As far as I’m aware, this is yet to be turned into an actual business. Every year in Southampton, the whole place becomes insanely active for the sabbatical nominations. People campaign to win positions like Student President for the upcoming year.
These elections are campaigned for like they’re the most important thing in the world with banners, soapbox speeches, lecture campaigning and viral videos. If they’re running like full-blown government elections, why not commoditise it like one? Become the authority and supplier of all things campaign related.
12- Listings / Reviews
My first foray into startups came through a listing site. Make a catalogue of every single shop, nightclub, event and activity that a student at your university may be interested in. Create a site like Yelp, add a personal review and open up the platform for student reviews, then market it to first-year students.
13- Student News
The news industry in every country in the world is competitive. In the UK you have at least five mainstream newspapers to choose from every day and countless online news outlets.
Why isn’t the same true at your university? Just because there are union-backed media, that doesn’t mean there’s no room for innovation. A friend of mine created a student news website which did phenomenally well. Add in advertising and partnerships, and you’ve got a real business opportunity. One huge benefit of being unaffiliated? You can set your tone and be as blunt as you like.
This is an extension of tutoring, but if you’re terrific at one particular subject, you can host webinars across the country to tutor people at other universities too. Charge a small amount to join or a small amount to get the recording afterwards.
Another one for the writers out there. Press releases are the business equivalent of a CV. There are opportunities left, right and centre here to help local businesses with PR. You can team up with your university’s blog too and start offering that as a service (university shout-outs to companies). If you want to do this at scale, check out the freelancing suggestion in the Everything Else section of this guide.
The prank of choice when I was at school was to cmd-f-replace a word like “a” with a swear word just before a friend turned his assignment in! Start proofreading your friend’s assignments for something cheap like £1 ($1) per 1000 words. You need scale, but you’ll get faster and faster with practice.
17- Halls Cleaning
I believe this to be one of the best small and self-sufficient businesses you can ever start at university. Print out some flyers and go door-to-door around your halls of residence.
You require zero experience (assuming you know how to do dishes) and there’s no cost beyond cleaning supplies. If you wait until your first booking to buy the cleaning supplies, you have zero debt and are instantly profitable. This can scale too. By managing the commercial relationship with students, you can build a cleaning empire around your university, hiring friends/classmates/anybody to clean and take a cut.
18- End of Tenancy Cleaning
I’ve kept this separate from Halls Cleaning for a reason, volume. Halls cleaning is all about scale by numbers – you take on a large volume of in-and-out jobs that you charge a small amount for per person/room/flat. For anybody that’s rented a student house and had to clean it at the end of the year, you’ll know this is a much bigger, much more complicated job.
Once the semester is up and it’s time to leave, students have to deep clean their entire house, scrubbing the walls, cleaning all the appliances, windows etc. Professional cleaning companies can charge upwards of £200 ($250) for a single day’s work. I’m sure students can easily undercut this. With thousands of students doing this every year in every university, there’s a lot of revenue potential.
19- Flipping Burgers
This reminds me of one crucial caveat, If you’re selling food, make sure you have all the required paperwork. Burgers weren’t on my initial draft, but then I remembered that the sports fields at Southampton are a million miles away from any form of take-out.
Athletes, and more importantly sports fans, need to eat! I think you’d make a killing if you set up a simple burger store near the action. Buying frozen burgers in bulk is very cost effective, and you could sell them for £3 ($3.7)/burger for an insane markup.
20- Moving / Removals
I moved house six months ago and paid £200 ($250) for a half day to a removal company to move all my stuff. You can hire a van for an entire day for significantly less than £200, and students don’t have furniture. You could probably move 10+ people/day.
See more: entrepreneurhandbook.co.uk/student-business-ideas/