What do Microsoft, Dell, Napster and Facebook all have in common? Aside from being among the most notable companies of the last quarter century, they were all also created by college students. Sure, you may not be the next Mark Zuckerberg, but starting a small business while you are in college is definitely possible. Consulting is a great way to start because it can help you make valuable connections, while also generating some income to cover tuition, meals, and your very expensive textbooks. Companies often hire consultants to provide expertise they don’t have in-house.
Start by think about the things you’ve done, in school, outside of school and during breaks. Think about the kinds of things you like and are good at. And think of the kinds of things your friends ask for your help or advice on.
Here are our top 4 opportunities for starting consulting business from the comfort of your own dorm.
1. IT consulting
Information technology is one field in which having years of experience can actually work against you. If you’re still in college, your skills will be fresh and you’ll have a lot of other people to bounce ideas off. If you don’t feel confident promoting yourself as an IT consultant to businesses, put the word out on campus that you’re available to help all the English and History majors with their computer issues, and build from there. Keep in mind that protecting yourself with IT consultant insurance will help keep you from getting into trouble if anything goes wrong.
2. Social media consulting
College students are often on the cutting edge of social media trends. One reason why is that they know the businesses of driving engagement across social media platforms. Use this knowledge and experience to advise companies on their social media strategy. Take them beyond Facebook and LinkedIn, and introduce them to Instagram, Google+, Pintrest, Yelp and other channels to get their messages out.
3. Graphic design
Graphic design consulting relies more on your creativity and talent than years of experience. Grab your portfolio of projects from your graphic design classes, make yourself some fancy business cards, or even better a website featuring all of your work, and get started.
4. Website design
You may have designed a web site for a campus group or club, for a fellow student, or just for your own blog. Use those sites as samples, and you can branch out to designing websites for companies.
Just remember, even if you start your business while you’re still in college, it’s still a real business, with real rewards and real risks. Make sure you protect your business with errors and omissions insurance. Did you know that, as a consultant, you can be sued by a client who isn’t happy with your work, even if you’ve done nothing wrong. And your client, using something called a waiver of subrogation, can pass a lawsuit on to you if it results from your work on a project.
Consulting can be a great way to earn some money in college, and to pave the way for your continued success after graduation.