15 Profitable Small Business Ideas for Students – Earn While Learning

Opportunities often come unexpectedly, sometimes when you’ve got the least amount of time for them! Whether you’re immersed in studying or starting a family, embracing a business idea can be life-altering.

Here’s a curated list of small business ideas that you can start alongside your studies (or life’s other challenges):

Here’s a list of small business ideas that you can accomplish alongside your studies:

Social media

If TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram have proven anything, it is that it is easy to make money off social media.

Simply advertise and promote a business, product, or brand, and these businesses will pay for this promotion. Naturally, some things are easier to promote than others, i.e. food, nail products, makeup, kitchen gadgets, etc. However, do it right, and you can easily earn a steady income as an influencer, all while you are working or learning.

Start a website

Creating your website is a lot easier than it used to be thanks to sites such as WordPress, which allow you to buy static, editable websites that you can begin using right away.

Simply pay a small fee—or opt for one of their more basic free designs—and you can begin blogging right away. The key to getting it right is blogging about something you’re passionate about and being consistent in your focus. So, if, for example, you’re passionate about transforming your face into different famous people or characters, then that should remain your focus throughout. Once established, you can begin monetizing your website by testing out products that make these transformations possible.

Become a YouTuber

Vlogging about your passion through an assortment of videos is certain to get you noticed by companies, especially if you’ve got a decent-sized following.

As your channel becomes more successful, thanks to YouTube ads or opportunities for sponsored content, you can start getting paid for every video that you post. Again, it is just a matter of picking a topic, i.e., games, comedy, music, make-up, etc., and putting simple guides and reviews online. As your audience grows, so will the opportunities businesses throw at you, as you’ll be a simple yet effective way for them to promote their products without spending a fortune on their advertising. In many ways, you’ll be working for them as an affiliate, but you won’t be promoting just one business on your blog, but many.

Pet Sitting

Imagine getting paid to walk and snuggle animals daily. You can.

We live in such a busy world that more and more people are relying on pet sitters to check on their furry friends during the day. Now, pet sitting can range from taking someone’s dog for a walk daily to looking after someone’s pet in their family home while they are away on holiday. All you need to get started is proof of experience, customer recommendations, a strong client portfolio, and an assortment of animal care qualifications (check out our online animal care courses here), and pet owners will soon be asking for your help.

Sell on creative marketplaces

The recent pandemic and spate of lockdowns encouraged many people to re-evaluate how they spent their time.

In a lot of cases, people were able to fully embrace their hobbies and use the likes of Etsy to sell what they’d made online. You can do the same. If you’re creative and have a product that you know would be popular, you too can use these creative marketplaces to promote and sell your homemade products to a large and varied online audience.

Just remember to set realistic timeframes and turnarounds for your products so clients will always leave a positive review. If you’re honest about the time it takes to create a piece, clients will be more understanding and willing to wait. Pretending you can always get them done and posted quickly could come back to harm you when there is a rush of work to complete.


Websites such as Amazon have made it even easier for you to get your work published and in front of prospective readers.

So whether you fancy creating an online magazine or you’ve got a story you want to share, it is now possible to self-publish and have your work printed on demand. Amazon, for example, gives prospective self-published authors the option to pay them a small fee every time someone asks for a printed copy of their book (print on demand). Similarly, they will convert your novel into an eBook format so it can be bought and read on a kindle. This means that as long as you’ve got a good story, have done your due diligence, and have had it thoroughly proofread, you can self-publish without fear of rejection from a publisher.

Upcycle and sell for a profit

If you’re particularly creative, you can take your upcycling skills and use them to revive clothes and furniture, then sell them for a profit.

You’ll need to be able to showcase a portfolio of work to help strengthen your sales pitch and entice viewers into giving you a chance. A strong portfolio will also give you the freedom to charge the prices you want, as viewers will be able to see exactly what you are capable of making.

Buy and sell graphics

If you’re good at web design or web development, then there is a chance to take these skills and use them to work as a freelancer.

Freelancers have the freedom and opportunity to decide their rates and workflows, so you can easily continue your learning journey while using your graphic skills to make some money. At the same time, you can gain valuable work skills and experience by tending to a variety of different client needs and demands.

Get paid to queue

It may sound odd, but there are many people out there who are willing to pay you to queue on their behalf. Whether this is physically in a line or on the phone, they will pay you to endure the misery of waiting instead of themselves.

Offer Zoom lessons

A lot of businesses were forced to resort to Zoom to conduct meetings and lessons while everyone was in lockdown. In the wake of this development, there was an opportunity for businesses to engage with people who wouldn’t have used them in the past because of distance.

And they are still happening, even though lockdowns are a thing of the past. So if you’re bilingual or have a skill you can teach via Zoom, i.e., art, baking, dancing, gymnastics, etc., you can use platforms such as Zoom and Skype to collect a breadth of new clients.

Sell original work on Etsy

We’ve touched on this idea briefly, but Etsy is one of many platforms that helps small businesses promote and sell their homemade creations online.

From bakery goods to jewellery to clothing to wall art, you can essentially take your hobby and sell your work on these sites, all while you continue working and learning at the same time.

Become a freelancer

Freelancing doesn’t solely relate to web design and blogging. You can also work as a freelance writer, illustrator, admin support assistant, personal assistant, customer service assistant, and much, much more. And the bonus is that you can control how much you work and when you choose to work, giving you the freedom to explore other avenues as well.

Offer transcription services

For instance, you can offer to transcribe lectures for a fee, or you could offer these services to businesses that need meetings and phone calls transcribed.

In turn, there is a market for video, TV, and film transcription, so if you’re a fast typist and have the focus to transcribe long videos, you could make money making these videos, meetings, lectures, etc. accessible to those who can’t attend or who are hard of hearing.

Start an essay or thesis proofreading business

If you’ve got a critical eye, are great at spotting errors, and can read quickly, then you can offer other students a valuable service.

You see, the most lecturers can review an essay is 10%. Yep, they are only allowed to offer assistance on a small amount of your work. As a proofreader or editor, you can help other students salvage marks that could be lost due to silly mistakes that are hidden away in the remaining 90% of their work.

Offer a tutoring service

Not everyone feels comfortable speaking to their lecturer about the syllabus or their struggles with understanding class materials. They prefer someone they can relate to.

As a tutor, you can earn up to £30 an hour, helping other students interpret and understand the syllabus (yes, the syllabus you are learning yourself) and help them reach their goals. This particular one is especially good if you aspire to be a teacher one day, as you can gain great teaching experience that will help you determine if you want to do an online teaching course.

And these are just a handful of business ideas you can explore while you’re learning.

As long as you aren’t doing anything illegal, have the right licence, insurance, or qualifications, and aren’t compromising your own learning experience, you can take your mini business idea and use it to earn an income while you learn.

To discover more about business management and how you can turn your hobby into a career, take a look at our range of online courses today.

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