Starting a Business When You’re Broke College Student

Entrepreneurship entices a wide array of people for many reasons, but it’s hard to get any business off the ground without a starting budget. Even online businesses need money squared away for merchandise and advertising. What are you supposed to do if you don’t have any money?

As a college student, you’re well on your away toward earning a degree and building a strong future for yourself. But you may want to start building your own company now and grow it to become a full-time job. Or maybe you just want to keep it small and part-time, enough to generate passive income that helps you cover living expenses while you concentrate on your studies.
If money is what you’re after now, business is just one way to go about it. As a college student, you also have the option to apply for private student loans. While they have their own setbacks, which you should study in-depth before you borrow, alternative student loans also have some major perks over federal ones.

For example, they have much higher limits and a statute of limitations, which means even if you default, there is a set amount of time collectors have to request repayment before the debt expires. While you consider your options, let’s delve into the basics of starting a legitimate business with startup costs under $50. These ideas will help you brainstorm your own plan.


The money won’t roll in right away, but blogging can become profitable with time and dedication. Buy a domain for under $10 and spend the rest on a hosting platform like WordPress. A domain through the organization costs $12 and you can even host on a monthly basis at a starting rate of $2.95/month.

What you’ll need next is a niche. What are you going to write about, and who is your primary audience? Think about what you like to read about, and what you already know. Combining these two can give you a good starting point for content. Using your personal experiences and knowledge to create valuable content for others is rewarding on its own, but it can be even better when you start generating money from ads and affiliate links.

Become a Tutor

Start offering tutoring services to local students. You can make a simple online portfolio for free, and purchasing an inexpensive domain will give you a professional touch. You can create your own logo and brand colors for free using a free graphic design software like Canva.

Advertise that you are a college student looking to build work experience and give back to the community; you can offer virtual tutoring sessions to elementary, middle or high schoolers depending on your areas of knowledge and personal preferences. All you’ll really need to do this is a way to receive payments, like Venmo, a bank account, a virtual whiteboard, a good WIFI connection and some type of video chatting software like Zoom or Google Classrooms.


Start offering to proofread essays and papers for $10-$20 apiece, then build up enough experience that you can make it a small business. Use samples of your own work to demonstrate your proficiency in writing, and consider incorporating this into a tutoring service for high school students who need help with their own papers. You can advertise online, run a blog to compliment your services and even hang up flyers around campus or at the local library.

Personal Assistant

People need their groceries picked up, their dry cleaning dropped off and returned, and even letters and packages taken to the post office. You can run errands for others as a personal assistant to generate some quick cash. Just make sure you only perform tasks that include outside drop-off and delivery.

Not only does this prevent the spread and exposure to coronavirus, but it also protects your personal safety. You should never go inside someone’s home you don’t know; if you do, make sure that you bring someone with you. You could also take this type of service to the digital sphere and become a virtual assistant.

Some of these positions are gig-based, meaning you apply for a specific role on a job board and only perform it for a specific amount of time. This gives you valuable experience and helps you develop a portfolio you can use to market yourself to higher-paying clients in the future.

Sell Handmade Goods on Etsy

Etsy helps crafters, artists, and creators sell their products online to a massive audience without spending a fortune. You could make custom t-shirts, art prints, jewelry, or just about anything else and sell it to people. Check out what’s trending and consider picking up a new hobby. The ability to create and make a profit from it is extremely gratifying, and many people find Etsy to be a great way to monetize their favorite hobbies.

Atif Mallo

Atif Mallo is a freelance blogger with huge interest in technology, science, life hacks and health. He loves coffee, cheesecake and chess. Drop a line in comments to leave feedback for him.

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