“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle” – Abraham Lincoln
There is extreme value in hard work.
How many times have you wished that you had more money? In college, and after graduation, we all enter a time in our lives when we begin to see the value and need for money. Not a love or obsession with money, but an understanding that money is an essential ingredient of our financial stability and success.
The cliche while in college is that it is alright to live on ramen noodles, and to re-use toilet paper. I don’t want to contradict that (well maybe the toilet paper part), because I think that developing a frugal mindset when you are young is imperative to transitioning into a frugal mindset once you are older and have actual cash on hand.
A frugal mindset is important, but finding ways to increase your income while in college, and after graduation, will be just as key to your success.
Develop Your Side Hustle
What do I mean by a side hustle? I mean a side gig or a side business. Any activity that you pursue that ends up with your making money. In the quote above, we see one of the most famous leaders of this country praising the value of hustling.
I like to use the word “hustle” as opposed to a side gig or business, because I know that while in college and after graduation there are many things that try to steal away your focus. If you are going to truly make any side venture work, you have to work hard at it.
You might be the one turning down a party invitation because you have to make your latest product shipment, or finish writing an article with a strict deadline. The intent is not meant to take your fun away, but to give you an awesome opportunity for financial success and stability.
So, what does it take to make a side hustle effective while in college, and in your early 20’s?
- Low Start-Up Costs. You won’t have a lot of seed capital money. You likely won’t be raising any fundraising, and not starting a company (although that is an admirable goal and worth pursuing). The goal here is to keep your overhead low, and your profit margins as high as possible.
- Low Barriers of Entry. You don’t want to start a side hustle that is incredibly complicated, and will take a long time to get off the ground. You need a side hustle that is inexpensive to start, does not require a lot of marketing, is not government regulated, and does not rely on complex legal documents. Think simple.
- Laser Focus. You are young. If you are selling a product, it should appeal to you and/or your friends. If you are on a college campus, you have access to a captive audience of people in your exact same stage of life. This is a marketer’s dream. Take advantage!
- Hard Work. You will likely have to burn the midnight oil to make this work. College is demanding, and you don’t want to shut yourself in your dorm room and avoid your friends. You need to find the right balance, but the more you hustle at your business, the more rewards you will see.
Alright, you have made the decision that you are going to start up your side hustle. What direction do you take? Which idea do you pursue?
Using the list of filters above, here are some excellent ideas for a side hustle.
- Buy and Sell Textbooks – You can buy used textbooks from your friends and re-sell them at places like Cash4Books or Amazon. You can even use a free iPhone App from Rent Scouter to compare the best re-sell prices for the books you buy. This will ensure you only buy books that you can re-sell for a profit.
- Be a Travel Agent for Spring Break Trips – Are you pretty handy with Kayak.com and other travel comparison websites? You can charge for your research services, and help your friends find the best prices on their spring break cruise to Jamaica, or their hotel in Panama City. If you are really savvy, you can have your friends pay you up-front, then book the travel on a cash-back rewards credit card. As long as you pay the balance off each month, and don’t get stuck with any accounts receivables, this could be an excellent way to build credit, and earn some serious cash back rewards.
- Start a College Moving Company – This might sound a little strange, but it can be very lucrative if done right. College students have a lot of stuff. This stuff also needs to be moved in and out of dorm rooms every semester. Many students who live far away from the college they attend rely on their parents to move them in and out of college every year. This is a time consuming, and often frustrating time for parents and students. This is where you come in. You hire able-bodied college students to haul all of their stuff. The key here is that you don’t actually move the stuff away from the college. Your business model works because you are being paid to load a truck. You get paid to move the boxes down from the dorm room, load the truck, and ensure that the dorm room is clean. Then the parents are responsible for driving their uHaul back home. This has been done with great success on many campuses, but there is always room for a similar business model.
- Write Freelance – There are many excellent places where you can write freelance. If you enjoy writing, and would like to make some money on it as opposed to writing endless research papers, then this might be for you. You have two main options: you could look into a content farm, or you could write for more reputable sites like Demand Studios, and Textbroker. A content farm will let you publish whatever content you want. These articles are placed on their sites, and you earn a percentage of the ad revenue generated by the traffic that visits your articles. Demand Studios and Textbroker both allow you to accept writing assignments. With Textbroker you are writing for an independent client, with Demand Studios, you are writing content for one of their sites. Both of these services will pay you a flat fee, upfront, for your articles.
- Walk Dogs or Dog-Sit – Finally, if you like dogs, then this can be a great side hustle while in college. Most college towns are loaded with professors and staff members who work at the college, and live close by. Many of these same folks have dogs that they leave at home all day. As a college student, your schedule is very flexible. You likely don’t have to be in one place for more than an hour or two at a time. This gives you the flexibility to check in on multiple dogs throughout the day. You could even make some great money by pet sitting, where you actually watch a person’s home and animals for them while they are out of town. This could earn you a nice salary, and give you a nice place to stay!