A) Financial security: Successful businesses can provide a stable income and potential for wealth accumulation.
B) Flexibility to work: Entrepreneurs often have the freedom to set their schedules and work from anywhere.
C) Create jobs: Business owners contribute to the economy by providing employment opportunities to others.
D) Pursue passion: Owning a business allows individuals to turn their interests and passions into a career.
E) Autonomy: Business owners have the authority to make decisions and set the direction of their ventures.
F) Passive income: A successful business can generate passive income, allowing owners to retire while still earning money.
G) Personal growth: Running a business offers opportunities to develop new skills, foster creativity, and overcome challenges.
H) Mentorship: Established entrepreneurs can mentor aspiring startups, sharing their knowledge and experience to support others’ success
These incentives often encourage many folks, including students, to start a business full-time or as a side gig to their jobs and/or classes.
Yet, amidst this excitement, a pertinent question emerges: do all great business ideas lead to success? Well, this is one of the big questions that this post will address. But before then, here are some diverse opportunities that can inspire a new business idea or empower college students to turn their skills and passions into profitable ventures that could give them a leg-up in entrepreneurship:
10 Small Business Inspirations For A College Student
A) Content Creation: Utilize your writing skills to create valuable content for businesses, requiring only basic tools like a computer and internet connection.
B) Tutoring: Leverage your college education to offer tutoring services in various subjects, catering to parents, ESL learners, or fellow students.
C) Dropshipping: Explore dropshipping opportunities, leveraging marketing skills to sell products without physical inventory management.
D) Sell Handmade or Designed Goods: Monetize your creative talents by selling handmade or designed goods online or at local events.
E) Resell Items: Engage in reselling activities, leveraging your knack for finding hidden treasures and refurbishing items for resale.
F) Start a Nonprofit: Pursue a cause you’re passionate about by establishing a nonprofit organization, and gaining valuable skills while making a difference in the community.
G) Web Design: Offer web design services to businesses, and tap into the demand for eye-catching branding and digital presence.
H) Social Media Management: Manage social media accounts for businesses by leveraging your understanding of online trends and customer engagement.
I) Child Caretaking: Provide child care services, requiring trustworthiness, patience, and possibly certification in babysitting and first aid.
J) Graphic Design: Capitalize on your digital art and design skills to sell artwork online or on print-on-demand platforms.
Now that’s out of the way, this post will provide insights from 22 diverse business professionals on identifying business ideas with high potential for success.
By the way, readers are encouraged to pay attention to repetitive opinions from contributors as these viewpoints often underscore essential insights crucial for aspiring entrepreneurs.
In addition, these frequently asked questions should help with readers’ comprehension and extract maximum value from this post.
A) What are some great benefits of owning a successful business?
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C) Does a great business idea imply success?
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F) When should business startups start becoming profitable?
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G) How do I come up with a catchy business name?
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H) What are some business inspirations for students?
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| Amy Finlay | Daria Newell | Julie Ann Wood | Stephen Ost | Eskander Loshak LLP | Kevin Lockett | Jason McCarthy | Dean McPherson | James Dyble | Syed Ali Hasan | Adeel Shabir | Maksym Babych | Sharon Melamed | Ben Taylor | Rio Rocket | Arto Minasyan | Taylor Andrew | Jarie Bolander | Max Falb | Gerry Seymour | Maria Malavenda | Amber Vilhauer |
When it comes to launching a business idea as a student, success isn’t solely determined by the idea itself, but rather by how diligently you implement it.
Everyone generates brilliant business ideas regularly, but ideas alone don’t translate into successful businesses; it’s the entrepreneurs who tirelessly work to bring those ideas to fruition that make them a reality.
Generating a potential business idea is relatively simple—observe successful businesses across various niches and identify areas for improvement. Drawing inspiration from their strategies and adding your unique approach can enhance your business proposition.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to devise a solid business idea; that’s the easy part. The real challenge lies in execution, requiring immense dedication and hard work to ensure success.
Fortunately, as a student, you possess several advantages. With minimal responsibilities and expenses, you’re in an ideal position to pursue entrepreneurship wholeheartedly. Even if your venture doesn’t pan out, the potential gains far outweigh the risks
2) Daria Newell
My recommendation for any student who is seeking to start their own business is to become okay with failing and putting yourself out there. When you are coming up with a business idea, understand you may need to tweak the business concept multiple times – it doesn’t have to be bulletproof the first time around, as long as you start.
If you have a business idea, seek out a mentor who is in your industry. Successful people love to help others as they were once in the same place. One of my mentors, A. Cole, CEO of Complex Entertainment, always tells me, Knowledge is a gift that is meant to be shared.” It takes a whole lot of courage to even start, and when you consistently put yourself out there, you will discover people who will support your journey.
Understand the world runs off exchanging value. Get confident in what value you are offering through your product and/or service. Once you put your value into the market, start asking how you can better your value proposition.
Lastly, the most important thing to realize is that taking care of your mental health during the entrepreneurial journey is pivotal to success and avoiding burnout. Take care of yourself as the startup journey can be extraordinarily challenging.
3) Julie Ann Wood
I teach middle and high school students how to launch a business through a youth entrepreneur camp format, and the first piece of advice I give them is to select a business idea that aligns with their interests and experiences.
I emphasize that entrepreneurship comes with its challenges, and having a solid understanding and passion for their chosen idea will increase their likelihood of success and perseverance.
To guide them effectively, I introduce a great teaching method called the 3-2-1 process. Students are tasked with identifying:
A) Three activities they enjoy in their spare time.
B) Two skills they have acquired (such as sports, academic subjects, music, etc.).
C) One aspect in which others recognize their proficiency, which they may not have considered before.
If their answers overlap across multiple questions, it’s a strong indication of a potential business direction.
Following this exercise, I encourage them to brainstorm problems that their business idea can address. I stress the importance of offering solutions to customer needs, as people are willing to pay for products or services that solve their problems effectively.
Moreover, they must assess the feasibility of their idea by considering costs, including time investment, and potential customer willingness to pay. We also utilize the Business Model Canvas to refine and validate their concepts.
I’ve been mentoring students for several years while they build their startups. The biggest piece of advice I’d provide is to be flexible in thoughts and become aware of repeating problems in your personal life. For example, as a college student, I kept noticing that I would have an hour or so of free time between classes, so I would text/call my friends to see if they could hang out or grab lunch.
This was a repeatable problem that came up multiple times a day, signaling an opportunity to address a great college niche problem.
And so, I built my first company called Ufree to address the issue. Ufree was an app meant to find your free true friends, Who’re also free to hang out. It showed your friends’ locations and events going on around you. It even lets you sync your school calendar. The App gained lots of traction and was eventually acquired.
In summary, the one piece of advice I would share is to actively become aware of repeatable problems that you are experiencing every day. Odds are that others are also experiencing the same problem. That’s where your business idea would come from. The next step would be how to execute the idea.
As a business attorney, I’ve encountered numerous entrepreneurs and business owners. Some have been successful; others not so much. The thing most entrepreneurs don’t understand is that business ideas are a dime a dozen. No one likes to hear that harsh reality, but it’s the truth. Everyone, including your school janitor and restaurant busboy, has business ideas. The difference between them and successful business owners is the drive and hard work that it takes to make a difference.
In reality, most successful businesses do not create some kind of new industry or radical invention – they just take an existing product or service and make it slightly better or different. Very few companies will ever become the next Facebook (which, by the way, followed very closely in MySpace’s footsteps).
Rather than focus on trying to create a new whimsical business idea or novelty, entrepreneurs should be focused on identifying problems that they encounter in their own lives. Each of these problems, no matter how small, is an opportunity for a thriving business. Maybe you can’t find a coffee flavor you like at the grocery store. There’s a business idea. Maybe you can’t find a comfortable undershirt? Business idea! Maybe you can’t find an app that has your local bus schedule. Business idea! Maybe…well, you get the picture.
Business ideas are all around us. It just takes awareness to identify a problem. The most important part, however, is to follow through after you’ve identified that problem. As with anything in life, success takes time. Most likely, your business is going to struggle to make any money for the first 2 or three years – but guess what? That’s okay! Not only is it okay, but it is expected
Most businesses don’t start seeing any profits until their third year of business. But that first three years is exactly where most businesses fail because they lack the diligence and perseverance to work hard in the midst of what seems like a failure. But for those who stick it out and keep working hard – the reward is usually right around the bend. Right there, just past the point where others quit, success lies waiting.
I’m not saying just take any old business idea and run with it. No, you still need to think your business idea through, get market feedback, test your idea, and do research. But don’t get too attached to any business idea or feel like your idea is just so great that you can’t risk sharing it with others. Trust me, that attitude will get you left behind when someone else has the same idea and runs with it, while you’re too busy keeping your business idea a secret.
Listen to the conversations your friends and classmates are having. What problems do they complain about the most? And then figure out a business idea that can help to solve that need.
Maybe you can create your own Uber Eats for a dorm or create a service that helps students with their classwork.
The best startups fill a need and by simply listening to conversations and brainstorming ways to solve those problems, you might come up with a business idea that could make you the next Mark Zuckerberg or at least have a very cool side hustle.
For example, when I was a fresh graduate, I started writing down problems I was facing – and then I would think of how to solve them.
My main problem was unemployment, so my solution was to search for an alternative employment option. This turned out to be teaching English online.
I then turned this as a way to solve the problem of unemployment, not just for me, but for as many people as I could. I created a recruitment website for online teaching which produced referral bonuses for hiring new teachers.
I pinpointed a problem. Solved it, for me, with a product or service. Then scaled it to solve the problem for a wider audience than just myself. But the important thing is to make sure there is a monetary reward for solving the problem.
It’s not just about solving the problem but doing it with style. In this case, I chose the path of making up a word as my unique brand name – DigiNo.
It is always tempting to use a keyword such as “Best Shower Curtains” as your business name – but this lacks charm and branding scalability.
When you visit the Apple website – you may notice that they do not sell fruit. However, because of their branding, it’s arguable that people associate the word “Apple” with phones and laptops more than the actual fruit itself.
In summary, a successful business idea solves problems…with style. To get started, simply jot down the key challenges you’re encountering right now.
After all, a start-up starts with you.
You might believe that creativity is a prerequisite for startup ideas, but fortunately, generating business concepts is a skill, not an innate talent—it can be taught, learned, and refined. However, the downside of this being a skill is that your initial business idea likely won’t succeed!
Nevertheless, here’s how to kickstart your journey:
A) Take a cue from James Altucher: jot down 10 ideas daily, regardless of their quality! The goal is to train your mind to spot opportunities. If you’re stuck, start by considering existing businesses and brainstorm ways to innovate them—like creating an Airbnb for campsites or a Mailchimp for physical mailouts. Leveraging your industry experience can also spark fresh ideas. Consider what insider insights you possess and what aspects of your daily routine could be improved upon.
B) Curate a shortlist: Regularly review your ideas and compile a shortlist of those with potential. Through consistent practice, you’ll develop a collection of ideas worth exploring further.
C) Research and evaluate: Once you have a list of potential ideas, assess which one is most viable. I strongly recommend creating a Lean Canvas for each concept to envision its business potential thoroughly. This step is crucial for clarifying the business model and identifying the target market, revenue streams, differentiation, and distribution strategy.
Choose a concept you’re passionate about! Building a startup demands long-term commitment through the inevitable challenges and setbacks.
Lastly, remain adaptable: While you may feel attached to your idea by now, be prepared to adjust or pivot your business model as needed along the journey.
D) Naming your startup: Aim for a memorable, concise name with an available dot-com domain and trademark potential. Remember, trademarks should avoid being overly descriptive. Conduct thorough SEO research to ensure your chosen business name stands out in the digital landscape.
9) James Dyble
A business idea, for me, should always be influenced by a strong passion for something. This is because you need a passion for your business to succeed. Ideally, you want to look at starting a business where you will never work another day again in your life because you love it that much.
I did exactly that, I formed the Global Sound Group through my love for music. At the time of starting my business, I could have opted to start a business in an area that may have guaranteed more success, but I knew I had to do something that I enjoyed. As a result, I took Global Sound Group into a global brand, in the music industry, within 5 years of working with some of the world’s greatest and biggest musicians and major labels.
You may be thinking that you do not have a passion for anything. This is a common stereotype that I hear all the time, which is not true. Everyone has a passion for something whether it is buying clothes, social media or even eating out. All of these can be turned into businesses. A wise man once said something I believe to be true, and that is if you do something you love every day you will succeed. Therefore, if you are looking to start up a business do it in something that you enjoy. You will be grateful for it in the long run.
Once you know your passion, business ideas will automatically start popping into your head. Building a business around things you love is the key to success because you will love doing it. For example, you love cooking and want others to taste your food, so why not open a small diner?
If you have a passion for fashion, you can start your apparel store or sell it online. It all depends on the things that you love to do. When you combine your passion with skills and experience, your journey will become much smoother. Stay committed and never skip learning.
11) Adeel Shabir
Starting a business or startup allows you to work for yourself and on your business idea. Many individuals leave their jobs to start their businesses or curate their ideas for a startup.
The following, below, are tips to help you come up with your business idea:
A) Find your passion and look for what is needed concerning your startup idea. Passionate ideas will lead to your business success. If you have a passion for gardening, think of an idea associated with gardening and start working on it.
B) Survey the market. The best way to work on your startup is to know your startup niche’s current market trend. Will it work or not? This will also help you ensure that you are targeting the best audience for the market.
C) Look for smaller problems and scale accordingly. The main idea of a startup is to solve the problem that is already in the market.
D) Develop an MVP (minimum viable product) and start doing the marketing for it. Get to know who is interested in your business and your product.
E) When all the research is done and you have the analysis of the product and market, it’s time to scale, by promoting your business on social media and getting the mandatory customer reviews about the startup idea.
Let us see how this can be done:
Identify the problem: take for example environmental deterioration via pollution.
Consider the problem: People drive their vehicles even when it is a short distance.
Reverse the problem: Try to discourage people from using vehicles in this manner.
How do we achieve this? Help people to move short distances in a more environmentally friendly way.
Find the solution: Create a free rental service for electrical bicycles.
Add value: By providing cheap and ecological rent stations with electric bicycles. The battery charges up whilst on the move and subsequently can be used to charge street lights.
Create a user journey. Visualize and note how the process will work including the following steps: Where will people find stations? How will this application look? What does every piece of equipment do? How is the battery charged? Are there ride limits? How will customers connect a battery to street lighting?
Validate your business idea: Use questionnaires and your paper prototypes to obtain feedback from your target audience. Question bicycle riders, and people who drive short distances, and investigate legal requirements relevant to the town or city. You need to speak and get feedback from at least ten people.
How much is this likely to cost? Calculate your costs, which should include the following factors: Building the bicycle rental station, cost of bicycles, development of the project, and cost of replacing or recharging the batteries to mention a few.
13) Sharon Melamed
If people want to come up with a business idea, the best way to start is to make a list of problems or frustrations you notice in your daily life. Then once you have a few, think about whether it would be possible to come up with a solution.
Once you have found the problem and magic solution, start asking around what people think of your concept. And don’t just ask your parents and best friends! Ask lots of people who would use your product or service, if it existed. And not only that, ascertain if they would part with their hard-earned cash for it!
I used this thinking when coming up with my business idea, Matchboard. I noticed that people in offices everywhere spent so much time trawling through search engine results trying to find a supplier that could help them. I thought that was a time-consuming, frustrating experience that could be solved by making a business-to-business version of an online dating site, which quickly matched up buyers and suppliers.
Everyone I asked about the business idea said that it was a great idea, and then fast forward 7 years later, I can attest that it was! We’ve had huge success with thousands of clients and won lots of awards for our innovation.
One piece of advice I have, for aspiring entrepreneurs, is to wait a couple of days after you come up with your business idea, and not act on it in the spur of the moment before the dust has settled. What seems like a great idea one day may seem silly after all the next. You need time to reflect before leaping into action.
Finally, don’t kid yourself, not only about your business idea’s merit but also your ability to execute it. Don’t jump into a business where you don’t have the core skills required – or at least, don’t jump into it alone. Make sure you have a co-founder so you can put a tick in every box.
14) Ben Taylor
When you’re brainstorming business ideas, research is everything. Thankfully, there are great online tools to help with this. One example is Google Trends, which allows you to see the level of people searching for certain things. This can give you an instant steer on whether you are looking at something where interest is growing, or at something where demand may already have peaked.
Similarly, keyword research tools let you look at how many people are searching for specific phrases online, so you can assess demand and look at seasonal trends. You can rubber stamp business ideas (or dismiss them) very quickly with just a small amount of online research time.
15) Rio Rocket
There are two ways to come up with a business idea. One is to serve a need that is currently underserved. The second is to improve upon an existing product, service, or idea. You can also combine the two.
Companies like GoPro sought to both improve upon an existing product, which is to capture video in the wild, and serve the need to do so hands-free from a first-person perspective. Therefore the name of your startup should reflect the true meaning and essence of your product, service, or idea.
The name ‘GoPro’ represents the founder’s original aspirations to go pro as a professional surfer to be filmed at the time. The product line of HERO cameras represents their goal to capture close-up action footage that makes the wearer look like a hero.
Simplicity and being relatable is paramount to success. By keeping the business idea, development, execution, and naming process as simple as possible, the odds of success are greatly enhanced.
The first being:
Why do so many people want to launch startups?
You find that there are a few very obvious answers, which are:
A) To become rich.
B) To be your boss.
C) To be praised by society.
The second question is:
Why should someone initiate a startup?
It is because you see a specific problem that impacts you, and you know exactly how to solve it and want to leave a positive impact on society.
For me, my own story is very representative and answers the question of why people should start startups. I and my co-founder often find ourselves making calls with our colleagues and partners in the US. Due to extreme time zone differences, we had to make calls in various noisy locations, houses, restaurants, the airport, and even on the street. Background noises, people talking, police sirens, and so on, made us sound very unprofessional during our calls.
And so, what did we do?
As a developer and having a circle of professionals, I teamed up with them to start working on noise cancellation tech, driven by our personal experiences. We did some research to find out if there was any solution out there, and, fortunately for us, there was none. And so, we embarked on a solution.
In just a few months, we came up with the initial version of our tech, and the quality was shitty, but the potential was there to completely solve all background noise problems during voice calls. Afterward, we decided to make this process repetitive, which gave rise to our startup, Krisp: a deep-tech startup that makes the human voice sound better.
We submitted our product to ProductHunt to get the first feedback and validation of our product. We also got upvoted/approved by the tech community and started to work on our growth channels to scale our success. The simple but impactful way to grow our customer base was giving out our product for free for a while. Besides that, it gave us time to improve the product, build our community, and website, and look for bigger channels.
Easy to say but that’s true – if you don’t feel a need for your product, you won’t come up with an idea for a startup and you won’t have that passion to carry on – execute your idea and see it to success.
It is often mistakenly thought that a business idea must necessarily be original. But to the contrary, you will find that very few entrepreneurial ventures are based on ideas that no one has thought of before.
And so, one of the best and most common ways to come up with a business idea is to brainstorm.
The brainstorming method is used equally to create ideas for starting a new business venture, as well as to develop new products or services in existing businesses.
To practice brainstorming, you’ll only need time and a way to record what you come up with. Always carry a notebook or journal with you to capture your business ideas when inspiration strikes you.
Write something down each day so that you can create a habit and encourage creativity daily. When you lack new business ideas, you can always take a peek in your notebook.
Your business ideas should be analyzed and critiqued, ultimately selecting one or more of them that are marketable.
A good business idea is a combination of your interests and skills and does not require a large initial investment or employment of many employees in the first year of business. A business idea is focused on the market in demand and has a distinct advantage over other similar products.
Typically, if you have a problem that needs to be solved, chances are, others like you will have the same problem. Of course, this is not always the case but that leads to the next part of idea creation — idea validation.
Once you have an itch you want to scratch, you need to validate that your idea is a business by getting your idea into the idea Goldilocks zone. The idea Goldilocks zone is the intersection between Minimal Viable Product, Product Market Fit, and Product Narrative.
Any business idea that you might have must be put into a tangible form via a Minimal Viable Product (MVP). An MVP is the minimal features and functions to validate that your idea has Product-Market Fit. PMF is when customers download or pay for your MVP. This is a critical piece of an idea because the whole point of a business is to make money.
Now, your idea might not go gangbusters right away but having some traction, via revenue or downloads, validates you’re on the right track. Being on the right track is a combination of your MVP and your Product Narrative since how and what you tell people about your MVP will influence their decision to buy or download.
Your narrative must answer:
A) Why your product exists,
B) What pain it solves, and
C) Why it’s unique.
It’s those three questions that help customers select your product.
In terms of naming a company or product, there are no hard or fast rules on that. The rules that I like to adhere to are descriptive, unique, and easy-to-say business names. Try out a bunch on your friends and family to see which ones they like or even better, find people in your target market to ask.
A) What are you trying to do?
B) What problem is your goods or service trying to accomplish?
That’s the hardest step, but I recommend doing as much research as possible and even talking with people to understand the problem and how you could come up with a solution.
The second part is coming up with a minimum value product (MVP) that can be quickly and easily tested to see if people want the product or what other features you may not have thought of.
This process should happen multiple times; each time making the product more advanced to create something that people will use and want. Eventually, you will end up with a product that has been tested to be successful and you know who will want to use it.
20) Gerry Seymour
The first step in starting a new business – whether it’s a major endeavor or a fun side hustle – is identifying a need. You might be able to make the coolest new gadget, but that’s no help unless folks want it, and people rarely want things they don’t perceive as meeting a need. So start by looking around for a gap. You need either a gap you have a skill to fill or one you believe you can quickly acquire (learn or hire) the skill needed.
An example of this is a client of mine who was working in logistics in an outdoor-related industry. He had experienced a lack of specialized providers in his industry. They were forced to order from standard camping/hiking suppliers, and those products – while adequate – weren’t always ideal for their needs. On top of that, the suppliers didn’t understand the needs of the buyers, so they weren’t making good recommendations. This client did a bit of research to make sure he could compete with suppliers’ pricing.
Then he reached out to some contacts in the industry to make sure he had some clients ready to work with him (during those calls, he also fished for how to better suit their needs). He even secured his current employer as his first client before he left to start the company. Then he wisely started with a limited offering of the most-used items, to get cash flowing. Operating from a home office with minimal inventory space, he ensured prompt fulfillment of orders. Gradually, as demand grew, he expanded his offerings.
While he harbored ambitions for custom product development, he prioritized delivering exceptional service, competitive pricing, and a deep understanding of his clientele’s needs. This customer-centric approach laid a solid foundation for his business’s growth.
21) Maria Malavenda
The best way to come up with a business idea is to solve an issue you’re experiencing yourself. Surround yourself with a team knowledgeable in all aspects of the issue, such as beauty and technology. Consider what you want your company to achieve. Then, beta-test it.
This approach is what I followed when I moved to San Francisco in 2014 and struggled to find a hairstylist who understood my hair type and, more importantly, whom I liked and trusted.
I spent hours navigating social networks, deciphering star ratings, assessing influencers, and perusing images to find the guidance I needed. What did I discover? That five-star ratings are unreliable, high prices don’t guarantee talent, having an opinion doesn’t equate to expertise, and many hairstylists lack education on new chemicals and products. Moreover, numerous hairstylists operate without licenses.
We deserve to work with professionals trained to address our challenges and meet our needs. I recognize the significance of a ‘good hair day’ and how our appearance influences our personal, social, and professional lives. That’s why I founded my company.
22) Amber Vilhauer
In today’s digital landscape, starting online is key. Whether offering services or products, begin with a blog or a simple landing page. Share your unique perspective and interests to inspire others. Engage with your audience and tailor your offerings based on their needs.
To expedite your online journey, prioritize relationship-building. Follow mentors, forge strategic partnerships, and seek mutually beneficial connections. Consider innovative delivery methods for your products or programs, such as autoresponder email series or challenge-based courses.
Maintain authenticity and value in your interactions, avoiding scripted or insincere approaches. Integrate video content early on to establish a personal connection with your audience and enhance the customer experience.
Ultimately, by embracing these strategies and remaining receptive to feedback, you can cultivate a loyal following and propel your online presence to new heights
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