Are you a college (or high school) student looking to get into entrepreneurship and take control of your future? Good. Great.
I have some bad news for you. But fortunately, I also have some great news for you.
The bad news is this:
- As a college graduate (especially with a liberal arts degree) you will have some trouble finding meaningful and gainful employment in your area of study.
- If you do find a job, there is a good chance you will be overworked, underpaid, and find it difficult to move up.
- Most high schools and colleges do not teach entrepreneurship. The ones that do often teach it on a level that is impractical for students or recent graduates to immediately apply… they teach about venture capital, high tech industries, high level partnerships, etc. This is all great knowledge, but is often difficult for students broke in contacts, experience, and finances to apply.
- Build a service business. This generally has a very low capital requirement and no risk. Either find something you’re good at already, or find something simple to learn that has a proven demand in the marketplace. You can start locally. For example, I have a web design and marketing company. My friend Sumner has a lawn mowing company. Last Winter my friends and I built a small snow removal company. You can provide rug cleaning services, graphic design, computer repair, painting, landscaping, and dozens of other services, all of which require a minimal investment in equipment and education and have a proven demand.
- Build a blog. You can start with a personal blog, like this one, but you will find it more profitable if you write about something that you are passionate about that you know others will find interesting (e.g. tea, skateboarding, technology, fitness, etc). You can write product reviews and link to Amazon affiliate links and other product links where you make a commission when people buy from clicking, or you can put general advertisements on your blog that pay you through an affiliate relationship or through pay-per-click. The more traffic you drive to your blog, the more money you will end up making. Also, as the founder and author of that blog, you will build a personal brand which will help with your career down the road. I know people that make anywhere from $50 per month to a six figure income blogging. If you start this business, make sure you get a self-hosted WordPress blog, NOT a free hosted blog.
- Start a network marketing business. Network marketing is like direct sales, only with multiple levels through which commissions are paid. You generally pay a fee to start or buy some product for your new business, and you work to distribute that product through sharing the products and business opportunity with others. The best thing about network marketing is that you will generally have a number of experienced upline mentors that have a direct financial interest in your success. Additionally, you will be exposed to personal development educational material that will force you to grow as a person and an entrepreneur in skills like leadership, sales, money management, and goal-setting. Network marketing was what got me on the path to freedom as a student entrepreneur.
- Sell on eBay, Amazon, or Craigslist. You can find items all over your house that you may not need anymore, that others will gladly pay for. Once you run out of items, do some market research and see what’s in demand. Learn to buy and sell. Marketplaces like these allow you to start making a profit online without setting up a website at all, and with having minimal technical know-how. In addition to making money, you will learn inventory and money management, negotiation, sales, and more. I have money some money this way through college, but I have friends who have made thousands of dollars per semester selling their own items and books (also video games and other stuff) for friends on Amazon in exchange for a small commission.
- Start your own e-commerce website. If you have a product idea, even as simple as a funny T-shirt, you can start a successful e-commerce business. Aside from the marketplaces described above, you can start a simple WordPress website and add an e-commerce element to it, process payments through PayPal, and ship via your local Post Office! You can market yourself on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and blogging, and build your brand through word of mouth.