How a student can start an online business

By James Peterson on 22-01-2018
3 comments | 222 views

A lot of students take some sort of part-time job to help them through college or university, and they often also work through holidays to earn the extra cash they need. Working for someone else is fine; the wage is there at the end of the week, and the student gets on with his or her life. There is another option, however: why not start an online business?

An online business has the same hoops to jump through as a physical business, but often without many of the costs. You still have to deal with the HM Revenue & Customs for tax, VAT and National Insurance, but you do not have the usual overheads such as rent, rates, heat and light, and repairs.

Having an idea for an online business might not be as difficult as you think. Most students are part of the generation using smartphones, tablets and the internet more than any other. Talk to friends at college or university, find out what some of their gripes are; it might just help you to find a niche in the market, and one that you can fill without a huge outlay.

Think about the subjects you are studying: could you be offering a service there? Are you a graphic artist, learning about the marketing world, or how to write computer programs? Are you an expert on beauty products, do you like writing articles, or maybe you are an excellent chef and have lots of special recipes you can sell.

Who Has Succeeded?

Most of us know the tale of how Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook while at Harvard University, and how it was originally intended just for the use of other students. Now it is one of the biggest social media platforms in the world. Four friends started Twitter in 2006 and by 2013 it was one of the top ten most visited websites. In this digital age, it should come as no surprise the social networks sites have all done well, and that there are so many of them, but there are many more online business successes.

There are lots of examples of online businesses that started in a very small way and have been a huge success. For instance, Lottoland only started four years ago with just seven employees. Now it is in several countries and is just one of the success stories of a small online business growing into something special. Imgur is an online image and hosting community started in 2009 by Alan Schaaf while he was studying computer science at Ohio University. By 2012, it had received 364 billion image views.

Shoedazzle, founded by four friends in 2009, is an online styling platform that helps women discover and buy shoes and accessories. The company can now boast 13 million users.

Bloomboard was set up in 2010 by people already working in different parts of the education sector. It is a high-quality teacher-coaching platform and has been so successful it has attracted the attention of the Gates Foundation.

These are just a few of the online start-ups from the last few years. There are thousands of them, many started while the founders were still in full-time education.  Having a job to help you through university is great, but there is nothing better than making money for yourself rather than for someone else.


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