A fair number of our enterprising Business Administration students at Life University (Life U) are more than eager to hit the ground running and start managing exciting businesses of every flavor and color under the rising sun. However, there is something to be said for starting small, applying honed skills in a real-world setting and then working to leverage modest gains into larger dreams.

It’s central and necessary for business-minded students to find practical ways to apply their developing knowledge while in school, whether that is through internships at established businesses or striking out on a personal venture.

Idea 1: Coaching

Coaching of various kinds lends itself well to a college student’s strengths and scheduling needs. It does require some networking and getting to know potential clients. The first step would be identifying what value proposition you can offer as a coach, whether in a professional setting or through a specialized niche market. Goal setting and creating actionable plans and strategies to help your clients achieve their desired outcomes is the name of the game. Here are some categories of coaching that can become solid businesses:

  • Sports or fitness coaching. For the many athletically skilled, active and passionate student-athletes at Life U, it would be a pleasure and honor to foster the personal growth of others in sports and fitness.
  • Career, professional and/or leadership coaching is another pathway to explore, though it may require more study or work experience to establish credibility. For those interested in honing their coaching skills in this area, Life U offers a Master of Science in Positive Psychology (M.S.P.P.) – Coaching Psychology track that prepares students for a career in this field.

Idea 2: Design

A creative mind is a shame to waste. If you love making visually pleasing content or products, lean into that. A design-forward business can take many forms, such as:

  • Web design services for individuals and businesses
  • Graphic design in the form of logos, website graphics, flyers and countless other design needs
  • Clothing and fashion design, especially if the approach is innovative and/or philanthropic in some manner, as consumers are beginning to think more critically about the impact of their clothing choices. Sustainably focused brands, for example, are popular, but be critical in examining the tangible environmentally friendly nature of your process rather than simply greenwashing (i.e., making products that appear on the surface to be green to assuage the public guilt, but in actuality are not).
  • Interior design. If you have a proven track record for how to transform spaces in an aesthetically pleasing manner, you can leverage that into an effective business.

Depending on the design business type, there might be certain software or inventory requirements involved. In regard to software, there may be some resources available to you through Life U’s Drs. Sid E. & Nell K. Williams Library while you are a student.

Idea 3: Service

Commitment to hard work and fair customer service can get you far as a business owner. Many entrepreneurs start out by operating and working part-time in basic, personal or home services kind of business, such as:

  • Cleaning services in homes, offices and other locations
  • Delivery services
  • Nannying or babysitting
  • Cooking, baking or personal chef services
  • Handyman services or ‘odd jobs’ for basic home maintenance not requiring extensive training
  • Cosmetology for hair styling and nail care, though professional certifications will likely be required for more advanced services, such as haircuts or hair coloring as a business.
  • Landscaping and yard care

Idea 4: Social Media Marketing and Management

Having a responsive social media presence is a huge part of gaining brand awareness for businesses of any size. If you naturally understand how to encourage engagement with your personal social media channels, that skill set is easily translatable to developing a social media management business, where you manage social media pages for a business or several businesses.

Idea 5: Digital Content Creation

If you are a voracious reader and have a flair with words, content creation and marketing could be a good path for you. Many businesses will pay well for targeted blogs, articles, copywriting, e-books and more.

Idea 6: Editing and Proofreading

If you have ever been accused of working for the Grammar Police, editing and proofreading could flourish into a viable business identity. It could start by editing the papers, reports, résumés and cover letters of fellow college students. Then, with a proven track record, you can expand that to editing articles and other written content in a professional setting.

Idea 7: Online Sales and Ecommerce

Curated online shops and pages are gaining steam. If you can offer a unique product, a product that fits a certain niche and/or deliver products in a convenient way, a loyal customer base can be built on that foundation. Item resale, drop shipping or creating and selling handmade items are some common examples that can be run out of small spaces.

Advice from a Beloved Life U Professor

Professor Marie Powell is a respected member of our Business Department with so many pearls of wisdom to share with our entrepreneurial students. Here are just a few with which we will close.

  • Be prepared to build discipline into your plan of action. This means scheduling time to get tasks done that will help you create positive outcomes for your business.
  • Create a one-pager business plan. Set your goals in a written format. It becomes a guideline that should be flexible and allows you to pivot and adjust along the way as you build your business brand.
  • Find a business that you have passion for. Boring products and services you care nothing about will die quickly and you will find yourself chasing a business and wasting time.
  • Be prepared to be to tell your story. In social media, storytelling wins over customers better than a boring, traditional advertisement. Market your product or service in this most inexpensive way.
  • Don’t be selling. Engage, create connection with your customer and approach with a human side. Be sure you understand the customer you are targeting. Be humble and caring.
  • Do research on your product or service industry. Discover what your competitors are lacking and find the sweet spot of connection to tell your customer why your product or service will give them what they want and need.
  • Let your customers tell you what they want. Listen, listen, listen. Build your business with your customer in mind, not what you think they want.
  • Keep up with how your business is doing financially. Keep track of your spending and buying.