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How To Start A Business From Your Dorm (Or Living) Room

The benefits of starting your own business in college are endless. You can earn some money to help pay for school while getting business experience and contacts that will help you land your dream job. Or better yet, your business becomes so successful that you don’t even need a job when you graduate.

how-to-start-a-business-from-your-dorm-roomMy biggest regret about how I spent my college years is that I didn’t apply some—or all—of my free time to entrepreneurial pursuits. If you’ve got time between classes, your college dorm room is a great place to start a business. After all, Microsoft, Dell, Apple, Facebook, Netscape, and FedEx were all started by college students.

If you want to start a business at college — or from home — here are a few tips:

Start small.

Established entrepreneurs can attract millions of dollars in venture capital with a good business plan and a few handshakes. Chances are, you cannot. Focus on easy business ideas that you can implement by yourself or with the help of a few friends—and with money you already have.

Focus on something you enjoy.

In life, we end up doing a lot of things we don’t enjoy—we take classes and work jobs outside of our areas of interest because we need to graduate or put food on our tables. Your own business, on the other hand, should be doing something you like. Finding a business you enjoy won’t only make you happier in the long run, it’ll also increase your businesses’ chances of success.


Find other students at your school who are running their own businesses or who are interested in starting. Go to dinner or throw a party to pick their brains and find out how you can help each other.

Be realistic.

Some business ideas seem better in theory than they are in reality. Almost every college has an entrepreneur who thinks he or she is going to revolutionize the way students buy and sell used books by setting up a book exchange; in reality, it’s very difficult to pull off. On the other hand, while business ideas like selling baked goods or providing a babysitting or tutoring service for local families won’t win any ingenuity awards, they can be set up and profitably run pretty easily.

Do your homework.

The internet is chock-full of resources that can help college entrepreneurs succeed. Check out the Collegiate Entrepreneur’s Association and Entrepreneur Magazine for starters.

Do you have experience running a college-based business? What was it and how did it work out?

Published or updated on September 5, 2008

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


We invite readers to respond with questions or comments. Comments may be held for moderation and will be published according to our comment policy. Comments are the opinions of their authors; they do not represent the views or opinions of Money Under 30.

  1. mirirai says:

    after noticing the high sexual activity on my campus, the word “condom” kept ringing in my head. at the time they were given out for free and distributed in toilets, hostels etc but those were of very low quality and people just ignored them( you can imagine the consequences). i then approached a company that imports from malaysia wanting to buy and sell. turns out they liked the idea and now i’m getting them for free. all i do is sell, get a commission and a bonus too out of every batch. not to mention the priceless contacts and networks that i have gathered. it sure is good to start at college. if anyone has ideas on how i can grow my business please notify

  2. I did this! I did my first paid wedding shoot 10 years ago ( yikes ) for $60. I was only 19 when I started my business. ~Amanda

  3. Brian Brooks says:

    I had an idea that I always wanted to implement. It kind of started as a joke but I always figured it would work to some degree and put a little extra money in my pocket. I have my own business now and don’t have the time but would love for someone to give this a try. At office supply stores you can buy NO SOLICITING sign for as little as two bucks each. So I thought of going door to door selling NO SOLICITING signs. I figured if i charged five bucks more than I paid maybe I could make an extra 40 to 50 bucks a day, or more. At the least I am sure you could at least make some one laugh and if they were not interested I would say, “no problem I will see you tomorrow”. So if anyone is looking for an idea feel free to try this one and post your results back here. Good luck.

    • Kellogg says:

      @Brian Brooks, I LOVE your idea! I told my husband and he thought it was both hilarious and genius. I hope someone actually does it!

  4. I too wish I would have been a little more productive. In comparison to everyone else I went to the military with I was very productive, I did come out of the military with a degree so that was good.

    Now that I’m married with a child, working through a masters and everything else im doing I wish I hadnt wasted so much time during my military / college experiences.


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