From Dorm Rooms to Dollars


College campuses are hotbeds for entrepreneurial activity, and perhaps the best time to start a business is as a college student for many reasons. Here are some business ideas that any student can start from his or her dorm room.

Paper Editing & Grading

Difficulty: Medium

Startup Cost: $0 to $100

Almost every college student has to write a big paper at some point in his or her college career. Whether it's a small research paper or a dissertation, students can always use an extra set of eyes to review their papers. Consider starting a paper editing service on campus to allow students to get feedback before the deadline approaches. Allow students to submit papers through a simple web interface through which a paper can be uploaded and submitted. The site can be built in a day by anyone with minimal knowledge of HTML. Create a PayPal account or Google checkout account to accept payment via credit card. Advertise the service around campus with flyers and spread the word with a Facebook group. The end of a semester will no doubt be a very busy time so plan accordingly. Look into having an extra set of hands to help with the editing and decrease any delay in turnover. If done correctly, this could create a nice part-time job for any student entrepreneur.

Student Trip Planner

Difficulty: Hard

Startup Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

Most college campuses are home to die hard sports fans. Students love to wake up early on a Saturday morning in the fall to start tailgating for the afternoon football game. But most teams only play at home 50 percent of the time. The rest of the time, the team is on the road, playing away games. This business involves planning "packaged trips" to away games or big rivalry games. Look into booking a bus and reserving hotel accommodations ahead of time. Also contact the away school to reserve a batch of group tickets. Recoup any initial investment by having students purchase tickets to the trip. Tickets should cover the cost of transportation, hotel and admission to the game. Advertise the trip around campus as an attractive weekend getaway. Most students will look for an opportunity to get away from school for a weekend and cheer on their team.

Social CRM / Social Media Consulting

Difficulty: Hard

Startup Cost: $0 to $100

Knowing the ins and outs of social networks such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook could potentially have more purpose than providing a thriving social network. Social CRM or Social Media consulting may be the perfect student business idea involving students to help businesses engage in social conversations with customers on the web. If customers are talking about a businesses product or service online, the business will want to know what is said. Offer to help businesses manage their brands on social sites by building up their presence through groups, fan pages, videos and other content. Look for ways to engage fans or members in productive conversation about products or services while taking advice and feedback to the company. Do damage control if needed by helping businesses become aware of negative consumer comments made online. Market yourself as a young individual who can help build brand awareness online through extensive experience with social media. Signing up clients may prove difficult at first. Look to offer free services or consultation to the first couple of clients to build a portfolio of positive testimonials. Over time, quality of services will be key. Also, don't be afraid to approach Fortune 500 companies. While they may prove to be hard clients to land, they do pay better and it could be a foot in the door for a successful career.

Have another business idea? E-mail jefried2@buffalo.edu

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