Welcome to aspiring entrepreneurs of a College Town. Here are 33 ideas for a startup to suit any budget and experience around a college campus.
Choose one if you like our business ideas here and let us know if you make your dreams a reality.
It could help others to get started.
This will be better than looking for a part time job if you are a self financing student looking to earn in your spare time to pay your fees and other expenses.
Here is a List of 33 Successful Business Ideas for College Towns
1. Start a Membership Based Library
What kind of books would interest you to read other than textbooks? Personal improvement books are popular among students.
Suppose some married students are living on campus, they might have children too.
Children would like illustrated stories. They are getting addicted to computers and mobiles; ruining their eyes and dangerous for little brains.
It’s important to read them bedtime stories when they are babies so they will fall in love with reading books when they grow up.
I was addicted to books when I was young as there were no mobile phones then.It felt so good, exploring.
You could start a library to make money by setting up a membership fee. I had a toy library once which worked out well. Most toys would be broken and they would pay for replacement.
You will need to register a business name and a permit to start your Library.
Insurance is a good idea to cover any fire hazard etc.
2. Open a Co-working Space
It’s a popular concept now-a-days to share office space with WiFi etc. A coffee corner could be added.
Rent a huge office and create co-working spaces for young budding entrepreneurs among students of the campus. Decorate nicely and put up a table and a chair with a guest lounge to receive visitors.
Nothing else is required except to register a business name and get insured for fire or theft.
You will need to collect deposits for any bills payable in advance other than rent.
Your deposit should cover the cost of any laptop or computer and phone you could provide.
3. Start Bed and Breakfast Service
It’s a lucrative business to take care of the students arriving new.
Those who can’t afford a flat could pay weekly rents to get discounts living in such guest houses.
You will need a 4 to 5 bedroom house minimum to start such a guest house.
You could consider renting the same room to two to three students if there are some students who can’t afford a room on their own.
Charging daily rent is allowed if you are providing breakfast.
You will need a permit along with business registration plus insurance.
4. Start a Bike/Car Rental Business
Capital required is not much to start a bike rental. Add cars and scooters too if you can afford them.
You can be sure to earn money if there are Universities around you.
Not many students can afford to buy their own cars unless they are Saudi princes.
Cars can be rented on a day to day basis or longer if students want to take them on a weekly basis for cultural visits to other cities.
Make sure you get deposits and insurance to cover damages.
Documents of the person borrowing would be needed before lending a bike or a scooter to be verified. Check where they are studying etc.
5. Movers and Packers Business
Buy vans and trucks if you have access to a finance of more than $100000 and experience with a company of Movers & Packers.
Packing can be offered free if the mover is paying an amount higher than $1000.
Charge extra for insurance by linking with insurance companies.
Drivers with experience and personal injury insurance should be hired even though your vehicles will have insurance against accidents.
You can expect high profits if you can arrange for moving things from country to country.
Surely there will be many international students in college towns.
6. A Man with a Van
This startup needs a very low capital enough to buy a used van and man power is just you.
Offer to help with moving and packing by advertising in local shop windows and notice boards if you are allowed to put up one of your leaflets.
Charge lower prices if you are not required to pack or load and unload.
If you are a student in a campus and want to earn some cash to pay for your fees and expenses in your spare time, this could help you without having to look for a job.
You can read about a man with a van business ideas here
7. Sports Centre and Bar
Do you like sports? Start a Sports Centre and Bar and enjoy your life doing what you like.
You can provide a place for training in any sport of your choice if you know how to coach.
You will need equipment and space to practice sports. Fix your fees and link up with Colleges.
You can put up your advertising notices in their notice bards with permission. Bar will need special licensing and permits for selling alcohol.
Insurance is a must.
Consider adding a swimming pool If your budget allows you.
Karate and Judo or Ludo can be interesting for students to learn as a hobby and self-defense especially for girls. This is very profitable business ideas if you start with proper planning.
8. Xerox Business
This business won’t require more than $500 for a photocopy machine and renting a little shop would cost you $5000 to $10000 in the USA.
No license or permit will be needed. Just register your business name to get a tax number and get started.
Your location next to a University could ensure to get plenty of work photocopying thesis etc.
9. Book Store
Starting a book store business including best sellers and notebooks etc is suitable for a college town. You can expect quiet people to visit.
Capital required would vary from $10,000 to $100000 depending on how big you want it and how many employees you can handle.
Location would be ideal if you choose a college town as students would like to buy periodicals and magazines other than textbooks and notebooks along with pens and pencils etc.
Starting a supermarket is a lot of work but think of the huge profits you can make. You will never have to go shopping if you own a supermarket.
If you have experience in managing a supermarket and can get finances upto $500,000, then you could startup a business of your dreams.
A location of your choice should be anywhere in downtown if you want a high traffic.
Visit or call your City office or Chamber of Commerce to find out about the licenses and permits.
Be sure to register a company with limited liability so any loss cannot touch your personal assets.
Insurance should include employees and fire hazards with theft coverage.
11. Perfume and Cologne Sales
All students on campus would like to smell good to impress others. None would like to go around smelling like curry to invite boos.
So, here is your opportunity to start a shop or sell perfumes and aftershave colognes online in your spare time.
Your fellow students wouldn’t mind buying from you if you are carrying some popular ones in your scooter or car boot to get a discount rather than go shopping for it.
12. Music and Video Sales
Most students like some entertainment to unwind after working hard to study and memorize stuff which can be stressful.
In fact, listening to music and watching videos of interest can fortify and reinforce their memory if it’s used in between exhausting study sessions.
Why not start a little shop music DVDs in the corner of a campus where you can create an atmosphere of recharging the energy source after spending a boring day in closed walls of a classroom?
No need for special permits or license. Just register a business name to pay your taxes and get it insured to protect against theft etc.
You could sell from your car boot too in the weekend.
13. Cyber Cafe
Not all students can afford a laptop or a computer, especially if they are international from a poor country like Africa.
You could start a Cyber cafe where they can borrow a computer to do their homework or projects.
Charges by the hour can finance your studies if you are a student while you study yourself on one of them in your spare time.
No special permits are necessary but you must keep a record of each user in case there is a dangerous user studying how to make bombs.
Check their ID records and make them log in with an address proof like a phone number etc to stay out of trouble in case the police come looking for such users.
14. Start a Bakery
If baking is your forte, you can make money by making cookies and cakes for birthdays.
Permit will be needed from the health dept. You must be certified to make sure your products are safe for others to consume and not fall sick.
I got a certificate in hygiene along with my son under three days to study a booklet and pass the test from the health dept for food handlers.
Capital required will be under $5000 unless you want to go for large scale business.
Loans will be easy to get if you need one with a Bakery training certificate.
You will enjoy your yummy preparations yourself.
Never go hungry with your own Bakery.
15. Clothing and Accessories Business
Everyone on the campus wants to dress neatly and look their best including yourself.
Your own clothing and accessories shop will help you to buy in wholesale and sell in retail to make profits.
Look up some T-Shirts etc online to buy and set up your own shop online or find a place near the university to offer discounts on sale.
Get your T-shirts printed with catchy words and slogans to make a sure hit. High fashion will attract girls and boys.
Register a business name and get insured to start up with under $5000.
Buy some racks and hangers. No employees will be required until you grow too big to handle it yourself.
16. Coffee Shop
Any student would like a refreshing coffee or tea after spending hours in a classroom digesting a syllabus to remember.
A coffee shop gives them to socialise with their new found friends.
Start up a little coffee shop if you know how to brew a tasty cup of coffee that is not too expensive for their pockets.
Make sure you get the permits and licenses of a food handler.
Register a business name and insure against hazards of liability in case anyone decides to sue you.
17. Fitness Center
After hours of sitting in classes, any student wants to exercise his muscles to keep fit and look good.
You could startup a Fitness Center to provide some space for them and training.
If you can afford it go for a sauna and a gym equipped with weight lifting and jogging machines.
Girls and boys are scared to go jogging outside where cold weather or a mugger would be awaiting.
Indoor security eliminates such risks for those who want to keep fit and stay in form.
You could stay fit yourself by starting a Fitness Centre.
Permit will be required to make sure your gym is safe.
18. Mobile Phone Accessories Shop
All mobiles need a repair or replacement sometime.
Not a big investment is required to open your little mobile shop if you know the basics of how to fix them up.
Order some popular mobile phones online to start off.
Some students may want to exchange their mobiles for more advanced ones. You can earn by charging an exchange fee in between such barters.
You must register and keep a record of who buys your mobiles and sim cards.
Accessories like headphones and phone covers can also be sold.
19. Gifts & Accessories Business
Gifts for birthdays or weddings could include accessories like belts or jewelry.
You can start a gift shop with under $5000 and sell bracelets etc if you know how to make them.
You can do it online or from your car boot if you can’t afford to rent a shop.
You must register it you open a shop and get a theft insurance.
20. Hair and Beauty Salon
Have you got a certificate in hairdressing and beauty salon?
Use your talent to make others look good by starting a unisex beauty parlour providing hair cuts and dyes to make easy money.
You won’t need more than $10000 to get started with some mirrors and scissors.
Furniture can be bought used as well.
Sinks to shampoo must have hot water facilities with a handheld shower.
Buy some towels with a washing machine to keep them clean.
Permits and licenses will be needed apart from registering your business.
Get liability insurance.
21. Gaming Parlour
Many students are crazy about playing games. Gaming parlour is also addictive.
But surely it can make you money if you can invest around $50000.
Register a business name to get started.
A location as close to the university as possible will work better.
Get insurance to cover against thefts.
22. Snacks & Juice Parlour
Healthy snacks and fresh juices in between classes are a better option than coffee bars.
Make them health conscious by starting a juice parlour providing snacks like fruit muffin or a sandwich with cheese and tomatoes.
Maintain your parlour neat and tidy to keep the health inspector happy.
You will need licenses and permits apart from registering your business.
Capital required will not be much for blenders and microwave or electric ovens to warm up snacks.
You will have to set up your parlour with counters and sinks for washing up.
23. Dorm Room Cleaning service
There are many students who can’t clean up their rooms and toilets.
You could provide a cleaning service to earn $10 per hour if you’re good at cleaning.
You will need to buy a vacuum cleaner and a mop with buckets if they don’t have them in their rooms.
No permit or license will be needed to start this business. You may have to register your business if it’s growing big.
24. Tea/Coffee Shop
A little tearoom like a canteen is not difficult to start up.
Anyone can make a cup of coffee or tea.
If you are good at providing a pleasant service, you could be a winner.
You will need a license.
Not a big investment is required unless you want a big business.
Get your friends to help you out by taking turns if you can’t afford an employee.
25. Laundry and Dry Cleaning
A laundromat can help the students to wash their daily clothes using coins.
You could help them to clean their expensive clothes by setting up a dry cleaning business.
Ironing service could help them save their time while earning you some cash.
Capital required would be around $50000 to buy some washing machines and dryers that use coins.
Rent a shop near the hostels where they don’t have such facilities, you are all set up with your section for dry cleaning and ironing.
You will need to plug in washing machines and dryers where you are allowed to use electricity. You could sell detergents and fabric whiteners on the side.
26. Furniture Rental Service
Make money by renting chairs and tables extra as it will be cheaper than buying.
Students are there only for a few years.
So renting instead of buying would save them money as well as the headache of disposing of them when they leave the campus.
Cots and chest of drawers, computer desks could be delivered to them on orders online.
Fix the prices to make some profits to cover depreciation in time after use.
Furniture rental business is very profitable if done in planned way. Here is a detailed guide on how to start furniture rental business.
27. T-shirt Printing
Learn how to print on T-shirts and you could get orders to print whatever they want you to print.
You could be printing for college teams playing football or basketball etc.
Some students might have eco groups and they might want to print special slogans.
You could do it from home in the beginning until it grows bigger to need a premises.
28. Grocery Store
It’s an age old idea to start a grocery store but it will never fail to work as everyone needs to cook including hostels.
You could start home deliveries to get orders online.
You will need permits to sell products like milk or yoghurt which can go bad quickly.
Get a license and insurance too.
Location must be close to residential buildings or hostels if they are not buying from supermarkets.
Capital required could be under $20000 if you can get suppliers to work with you on a credit basis.
29. Repair Laptops and Mobile Devices
My son learnt to assemble a computer by taking it apart to see what is inside.
You could learn how to repair laptops and mobiles by working for someone and open your own business when you have enough experience.
All you will need is a little shop which you could rent for under $500 a month and pay two months’ deposit if required.
Be your own boss to pay your bills.
No permit or license is required.
Just register a business name and insure against fire hazards.
30. Acting classes
Are you good at acting? If you have talents, you could teach others to learn acting. You could teach at home if you have a big hall to enact dramas.
A stage could be set up and curtains if you have space to do that.
There’s no capital required other than premises. Advertise on social media and on notice boards of the university near you.
A three month workshop would teach sufficient skills to make another person lose any stage fear and deliver dialogues with proper emotions.
31. Skill Development Training Classes
Which life skills can be taught to follow a career after a student gets a degree or fails to get one?
Nobody can be sure of getting a job after an academic qualification.
But skills training would help students to survive in unemployment situations.
Skills like carpentry or electrician or plumbing can help anyone to look after the problems in their own house without calling for help when a fuse is blown or a tap is leaking.
Mobile and laptop repairing can be taught as well as cooking classes including baking daily bread.
32. Yoga Classes
Learn to practice yoga watching videos online to stay away from all kinds of diseases like I am doing.
It has helped me to cure even diabetes and eliminated the use of medicines.
You could start Yoga classes when you have learnt enough from a teacher.
All you will need is a big hall at home and some mats.
Relaxing music and candles with incensed would elevate the atmosphere to a spiritual one.
Teach them how yogic diet of vegan vegetarian life can eliminate the toxic substances in your body.
33. Personal Sports Coaching
In case you are good at sports, you could become a personal sports coach to an aspiring athlete.
Any boy or girl who got medals in sports, would be dreaming of becoming a champion one day to win gold medals in the Olympic games.
If you are an achiever, you could guide an aspirant to practice daily or twice a week to improve on their performance in running or high jumps etc.
Get a timer to keep a record of their running time when they are running a kilometre or as required.
One day you will be feeling the joy if they win a medal because of your efforts.
You will get paid too if the student can afford to hire you to assist him in his goals of playing a game of chess or even basketball.