Start Your Own Business in College
Student entrepreneurs are making big bucks doing jobs they invent
Texas Tech University junior Daniel Vitiello is pulling in more than $25,000 per month off other people's pain in the tech. Vitiello, a self-described "household handyman," founded an iPhone repair business in July 2010 after a friend dropped her device and begged him to fix it. He checked local shops' prices and charged less, advertising on Craigslist because it was free. Within a couple of weeks he was fixing five to 10 phones a day, at a profit of about $40 per phone.
Then he spotted a story on MSNBC about a guy in New York fixing iPhones, and sent an E-mail to the local NBC affiliate asking if they'd like to do a story on him. They did. The story aired nationally, bringing in calls and E-mails from aspiring entrepreneurs wanting to start their own iPhone repair businesses. So in January, Vitiello started United iPhone Repair, which offers start-up help, tutorials, and parts supply for similar businesses across the country. As of June he was servicing 45 such firms, with 10 of them run by college students.
Many people know that Google and Facebook were started in dorm rooms. But a business doesn't have to be a household name, or even a dot-com, to make real money. Enterprising students are learning that the best, and most lucrative, jobs on campus can be the ones they create themselves. And they're doing it in ever-increasing numbers.
The nonprofit Entrepreneurs' Organization in Alexandria, Va., which coordinates a college student competition, received 1,768 entries last year -- compared to the 750 it received in 2007. "The Internet has made it easier than ever to start one's own business and to do it cheaply," says Ryan Meyer, a spokesman for the group. There's also been an explosion in on-campus business plan competitions, as well as the size of the prizes. Rice University in Houston, for example, had prizes of $10,000 in 2001, but in 2011 had more than 400 applicants vying for prizes totaling $1 million.
Ali Grace, a senior at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, funded her study abroad in Paris and two summers interning in New York City with the proceeds from her eponymous jewelry company. Brittany Rose, who just graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University , pulls in plenty of cash from her cheerleader training business. While she was a sophomore in desperate need of a job, a family friend pointed out that Rose -- who'd spent her freshman year at Avila University in Kansas City, Mo., on a cheerleading scholarship -- already had experience as a cheerleading coach. She started giving private lessons, then expanded to after-school programs teaching multiple students at once. Her business, More Than Cheer, now has more than 300 clients, a dozen instructors, and an ever-growing roster of cheer and dance camps and classes.
Of course, running one's own business has its costs. For one, grades can suffer: Rose got a D in one class because she was in Florida at a cheerleading competition and wasn't able to complete her final project. Plus, she says, "After starting a company, school just didn't challenge me like it used to, and I lost some of my interest in it." Bryan Roy, who founded the swimsuit calendar firm Hottest College in America at the University of Arizona , admits to having skipped classes in his senior year. Garrett Gerstenberger, a University of California -- Santa Barbara senior whose T-shirt screen printing business last year grossed $160,000, had to drop his double major and approaches his classes as "a game," he says; he figures out how little he needs to do.
All of the students think empire-building is worth the lower grades. Says Rose, whose business tripled this year while she took fewer credits: "I won't need to move back in with my parents, and I will be self-sufficient." And if anything were to happen to her business, she says, she would be more attractive to prospective employers for having tried it: "People always want to hire someone who can handle running their own company."
If you're thinking of becoming the big (business)man or woman on campus, student entrepreneurs caution that your social life as well as your grades will likely take a hit. How to balance student and academic life with work? Vitiello makes a daily to-do list and prioritizes three to five things that must get done, while Rose broke projects into bite-size pieces and took "baby steps" every day. Grace puts work and academic obligations on a calendar so she can see what she'll have to focus on when and make plans. "Start school projects when they're assigned and don't wait until the last minute," she suggests.
For the sake of efficiency as well as your grades, if you're a business major, use your company for every project and class you possibly can, students advise. Not a business major? Take business classes as electives and follow the same advice. No class, however, can guarantee a hot business idea. For that, Gerstenberger recommends throwing yourself into student life. "You'll have a better idea of how you can profit," he says.
Rose's primary advice: Do it now. "There will probably never be time in your life when you will have less responsibilities," she says. Your enterprise might not be the next Dell, another dorm room start-up, but with the right idea and proper implementation, it could be a life-changing and debt-reducing experience.
For more career and personal development advice, visit iHaveNet.com Careers
- Seven Deadly Words You Should Never Use
- Best Employment Security Plan for Older Workers
- Start Your Own Business in College
- Despite High Unemployment, Millions of Job Openings
- 6 Ways to Network While You're in College
- How to Get the Salary You Want Even in This Economy
- The Quitting Quiz
- Can I Afford to Quit My Job?
- Green Your Commute
- Many Once-Standard Workplace Benefits Disappearing
- 5 Factors to Consider Before Relocating for a Job
- How to Take Off After a Layoff
- Unemployed for Life?
- Employers Increasingly Trimming Or Cutting Disability Benefits
- Boost Your Mood with This Simple Trick
- How to Create a Career without a Full-Time Job
- Become Unbreakable: 10 Tips to Create More Personal Resilience
- Get Over Yourself! Learn This Secret to Boost Your Confidence
- Steve Jobs: 5 Secrets of Success
- Do One Simple Thing to Immediately Increase Your Power
- Take Charge of Your Professional Development
- 6 Ways the World of Work is Changing
- Mastering the New Freelance Economy
- How to Deal with a Gap on Your Resume
- 6 Things You Must Do Today to Stay Sane in an Insane World
- How to Make a Career Back-Up Plan
- Navigate the Booming Computer Science Market
- How Higher Education Affects Lifetime Salary
- Unfinished College Degree Means Less Money
- Start Living Your Miracle Life
- Workplace Benefits That Are Rapidly Disappearing
- 5 Common Resume Misconceptions
- How Social Media Can Help 50-Plus Workers Find Jobs
- How to Run a Meeting that Won't Tick Off Employees
- Job Opportunity for Entrepreneurial New Grads
- LinkedIn Offers New Options for Students
- 12 Ways to Be More Creative at Work
- Can You Answer the Miracle Question?
- Getting Ahead in Hard Times
- Why New Graduates Should Consider Entrepreneurship
- 6 Tips for the Hopeful Entrepreneur
- Think Startups are Fueling the Recovery? Not So Much
- How the Crippled Housing Market Affects Job Seekers
- 5 Business Lessons You Can Learn From Mark Zuckerberg
- How to Use Twitter to Change Careers
- Tips for College Grads Starting First Jobs
- 5 Ways Your Negative Friends Can Drag You Down
- Job Market Sucks? Not for Techies
- How to Land a Job in Tech Even if You Don't Write Code
- 5 Creative Ways to Showcase Your Resume Online
- Can Profanity Help Your Career?
- Business Schools Hope to Shatter Sturdy Glass Ceiling
- Failure Is Now Fashionable
- How to Mesh In-Person and Online Networking
- How Facebook and Your Free Time Can Get You Fired
- Why You Should Ditch the Quest for the Perfect Career
- Best Travel Companies to Work For
- The Oprah Effect: Ultimate Star-Maker Moves On As Should We
- Companies with the Most Older Workers
- 9 Companies Hiring Now
- Find New Law Jobs in a Slow Economy
- Make a Difference (And a Fortune!) Sharing Your Advice
- Business Management the Dog Way
- Healthcare Jobs on the Rise
- Can I Afford to Take a Sabbatical?
- How to Position Yourself to Change Careers
- How to Create Superstar Employees: Beyond Work-Life Balance
- The 10 Worst Cities for Job Seekers
- Hate Your Job? 3 Ways to Find a Better Job
- Alternative Career Options for Burned-Out Lawyers
- Where the Engineering Jobs Are
- Top 25 Companies for Work-Life Balance
- Tips for Communicating Well at Work
- Where the M.B.A. Jobs Are
- Not Too Late to Find a Summer Job or Internship
- When Surviving is Not Enough
- Navigating the Digital Job Market When You're Not Tech Savvy
- What Your Name Says About You in the Workplace
- Yoga Teaching Increasingly Popular as Second Career
- 9 Tips to Stop Caring What Others Think
- When Using Job Boards It Pays to Go Niche
- New Site Helps You Use Facebook for Your Job Search
- Tips to Create More Energy and Confidence
- When Your Dream Company is Hiring on Twitter
- Grads May Find More Jobs at Entrepreneurial Firms
- 3 Steps to Create a More Powerful Self-Image
- Switching Jobs in Bad Times: Should You Make the Leap?
- Extra Income: Bring in the Cash
- Treat Your Career Like a SmartPhone
- And on the Side, I'm an Entrepreneur
- Trouble at the Office
- How to Invest Your Time and Energy for Maximum Success
- Is It Time to Go Back to School?
- A Balanced Life is for Losers
- Thinking of Starting a Business? Look Before You Leap
- The Most Effective Ways to Look for a Job
- The Death of the One-Page Resume?
- Brighter Job Outlook for Class of 2011
- Quitting Fear Inc
- How Morning Exercise Can Boost Your Career
- Women's Day: Life (and Work) Lessons Every Woman Should Learn
- Stop Waiting for Permission
- Proactive Job-Search Strategy: Pitch Your Dream Company
- Cover Letters That Work
- Change Your Life and Create a Personal Revolution
- Taking a New Job Without Burning Bridges at the Old Job
- The Right Job at the Right Time
- The Quickest Way to Radically Improve Your Life: Use Radical Change
- 8 Workplace Perks for New Parents
- Reach Your Goals More Quickly: Use Incremental Change
- What the .Jobs Domain Means for Job Seekers
- Finding the Right Skill Set
- Project Management Tips From the Pros
- 10 Best Cities to Get a Job
- How to Be a Smart Job-Hopper
- How Job Seekers Can Build Their Online Brand
- Take Your Resume to the Next Level: Video
- 5 Smart Tactics for LinkedIn Self-Promotion
- Rise in Social Media Jobs Means Opportunity for Job Seeker
- Want More Clout? Stand Up Straight
- Hang Onto People Who'll Help You Advance
- Best Jobs 2011: Emergency Management Specialist
- 10 Jobs That Offer a Big Bang for Your Buck
- Best Career Advice: 2011
- Career Advice Hits of 2010
- Careful Actions Can Lead to Good Luck
- The Top 50 Companies to Work For
- Never Let Excuses Drag You Down Again
- Why Power Naps at Work Are Catching On
- 6 Steps to Polish Up Your Resume
- 6 Tips for GenY on the Job Hunt
- Be Wary About Chancing a Workplace Romance
Careers - Start Your Own Business in College
Copyright © 2011 U.S. News & World Report