Start-up tips: 6 smart ways students can make money
From blogging to web development, Ajinkya Potdar lists some of the coolest ways students can turn entrepreneur while they are still in school.
Photograph: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters*
The current generation of students and GenZers (those born in mid-1990s to mid-2000s) no longer want to wait to attain a degree or complete his/her education to pursue entrepreneurship.
They are inspired by the stories of Mark Zuckerberg, Ryan of Ryan Toys Reviews to shape their life goals to do something of their own. And more importantly, at a younger or earlier age than others.
According to research collected from a host of sources published by OnlineSchoolsCenter.com, GenZers have different goals.
Almost one in four students plan to pay for their own college education.
About 40 per cent plan to become entrepreneurs.
And almost half believe they'll create something that will change the world.
Therefore, it has become more than necessary to provide young students, especially those in middle or high school the opportunity to practice entrepreneurship at an early age.
In all of my training sessions, I noticed a trend that students are often lost as to the first steps they can take to explore and experiment.
One of the downsides of success stories that we read around the world are that they intimidate more than inspire.
In my experience, school students easily give up on ideas or have accepted that they may not be able to garner high valuations and financial upsides that famous success stories invariably touch upon.
As an aspiring CA (Chartered Accountancy) student, I was once advised by an investment guru that I must invest up to Rs 5,000 in the stock market if I truly wanted to understand the nuances of the trade.
His advice -- only when my own money was at stake would I take active interest in ensuring how well my investment strategies and decisions were doing.
Similarly, for aspiring student entrepreneurs, especially those who are still in school and college, I feel it is necessary to start young to get a taste of doing something on their own.
Here are a couple of entrepreneurial opportunities that they can readily make use of.
If you are good with fine arts and craftsmanship, you can start displaying and selling them online.
Create a Facebook page, Instagram business account or a Pinterest board to show off your artworks, free of cost.
If the work creates a buzz, put them up for sale at the Facebook buying and selling groups.
Direct orders via phone call can also be taken to courier the products directly to the customer's address.
If students have a flair for writing and have considerable knowledge of any particular domain that they think people might be interested in, they can begin publishing their ideas as a blog.
Blogspot and WordPress give a head-start for an amateur blogger.
Once they get the hang of it, they can explore the other web publishing platforms like LinkedIn, Pulse, Medium and Hubpages.
When content is consumed at a regular interval, they can start converting to paid readers. Creating own website for subscribers, advertisements, paid reviews and promotional write-ups comes at this stage.
Not looked at as a serious entrepreneurial opportunity, teaching is actually one of the easiest way students can begin their start-up journey.
It could be something as basic as helping someone use mobile technology or teach computers to those who are not well versed with the devices.
Tutoring younger students about something you understand better will boost your confidence, help you earn money and also provide you face to face interaction with the end customer.
Thanks to social media, putting the word out to prospective students through friends and family ensures that your advertisement costs are negligible.
4. Hobby classes
If you have taken up a hobby when you were young and have come a considerably long way in mastering the form, you can consider hobby tutorials.
You can start giving dance, music or instrument lessons right at your home, in exchange of a remuneration.
Word of mouth publicity will help you get more students and earn better.
You can also register at online services and solution provider sites.
Some websites may help you set up a virtual institute in your location for a free listing in Google Maps.
5. Web design/development
Students good with either codes or Photoshop can team up with friends and start a web design and development venture.
As businesses are gradually taking the online route, there is a surge in the need of skilled web designers and developers.
From setting up a site to its customisation and maintenance, if you excel in providing glitch-free solutions to all, sky is the limit.
Students could start developing their skills on WordPress and other programming languages to offer variety to their clients.
6. YouTube Videos
In current times 'YouTuber' is a well acknowledged profession.
YouTube has been phenomenal in setting up the stage for audio-visual content in the digital world, which was previously available in an image/text-only format.
From DIY videos, tutorials, cookery shows, comedy episodes to live vlogging, this online platform is a treasure trove of audiences with diverse interests that students can target and cater to.
Without worrying about a business space and huge investments, students should focus on their skills.
With the right skill-sets, they don’t need anything apart from a computer and an internet connection to start their own venture, right from your home.
If activities similar to the above are to be considered as step one of their entrepreneurial experience, the next step could be to intern at any start-up.
Having been involved in a business centric activity, this internship at the start-up could prove to be both more fruitful and insightful as they would be able to relate better to decisions and thought processes behind business ventures.
One of the key things for student entrepreneurs to keep is networking.
It doesn’t only imply attending seminars and meetup events but they must bear in mind that every interaction they have are links to building their network.
Whether it is a comment they receive on social media or a potential customer, all represent opportunities to increase connects.
One of the last tips I would have, not just for student entrepreneurs, but for Generation Z in general is to invest time in reading.
With increasing time being spent on screens, very little time is given to books.
Stories of famous entrepreneurs, mainly focussing on their first ventures or first steps, could serve as great motivation.
The key is to focus on what famous entrepreneurs did at a similar young age.
I’m sure many don’t know that Richard Branson hilariously failed at a business that involved Christmas trees and parakeets as a kid.
But he learnt valuable lessons about life and success which were not found in any book.
As a student, the key is to begin with any entrepreneurial venture, howsoever small it may be.
The aim is to use it as a testing lab to understand aspects of finance, marketing and resource planning.
It would also serve as a process of self-reflection where every student will realise his/her own strengths and weaknesses.
To quote the business and management legend Peter Drucker, 'Entrepreneurship is neither a science nor an art. It is a practice.'
Students need to begin practicing it as soon as possible!
Ajinkya Potdar is CEO and co-founder, Maxplore Centre of Entrepreneurship, a start-up that teaches entrepreneurship to school students.