Skip the wait: 5 ways to build a business before you graduate

14th June 2022

It’s no secret that many South Africans face tough financial situations. An overall unemployment rate of 34.9%, a youth unemployment rate of around 50%, and a graduate unemployment rate of over 12% highlight a pretty scary situation. Getting a degree may not be enough, which is why many students are taking matters into their own hands and starting their own businesses. If you’re itching to join the hustle while you’re at school or varsity, but have no idea where to start, it’s chill. 

Here are 5 ways to come up with a money-making, legit business idea:

1. Try something related to your degree, certificate or diploma

It makes sense to flex the muscles you’ve been working on, right? For example, if you’re a digital marketing student, explore the options of starting a social media management agency. Or, if you’re a programming student, think about apps that don’t exist – but should. You can look for indirect links to your qualification, too. If you’re studying to become a vet, perhaps start a grooming salon or a pet-sitting service. 

2. Give tutoring a shot

Are you an academic whiz? Why not make money by helping others learn better? This can be done by tutoring others either in-person or virtually. Investigate whether your university offers an official tutoring programme – they may already have a job lined up for you! This isn’t just a way to make some extra cash, it’s a great networking opportunity, too.

3. Leverage your tech skills or age, for business ideas

While Industry 4.0 and Covid-19 have increased the number of people on smart devices, many still need help navigating digital spaces. If you’re looking to start small, why not start a business helping the older people in your area learn to use their devices or apps?

4. Serve people on campus

Everyone at your campus is facing some sort of problem and it’s up to you to find out what it is and help them solve it. Do your lecturers need coffee delivered to their classrooms? Do your classmates complain about waiting in long lines for the printer? What about the walking distance between the car park or bus stop and the lecture-rooms? Perhaps a food delivery service, a “we queue for you” service or on-campus shuttle service may be the solution to these problems. Investigate what people need but can’t get, and then find a way to provide it to them.

5. Sell something

Whether it’s vintage clothing that you sourced from out of town, or jewellery that you get at the marketplace and sell to your neighbours, some items will never go out of fashion.

Worried about the risk of low demand? Here are a few things that will never go out of fashion:
  • Food: If you’re skilled at cooking or baking, put those skills to work – there’s always a new way to tantalise someone’s taste buds.
  • Education: You don’t necessarily need a university degree to teach someone. Perhaps you were good at poetry in high school. Or perhaps you’re a skilled netballer or cricketer. Why not get some valuable people management skills (and money) while helping others learn something new?
  • Clothing: Why not study what’s trending and make or sell a few clothing items. Being able to give people what they want to wear is a great way to build a successful clothing brand.

Whatever entrepreneurial road you choose to take, building a successful business before graduating is possible!