Top Tips: How To Start an Online Business as a Student?

Life as a student can be tough. Juggling your studies, meeting and making new friends, working out a budget, and living independently for the first time in your life!

If you have desires to start your own business in the future or you just want to make a bit of extra cash to get you through your studies, starting an online business in university could be exactly what you are looking for.

Some of us here at Homes for Students fancied ourselves as mini entrepreneurs back in our schooldays, selling Tamagotchi’s and burned copies of CDs and DVDs (you might have to ask your parents about these!)

So we are completely on board with that get-up-and-go that you’re feeling right now.

With that being said, let’s take a look at our handy guide on how to start an online business as a student!

Why Start An Online Business In University?

How to start an online business as a student

There are so many questions about how to start an online business as a student, and we totally get that it can be confusing/daunting!

But you should know, starting an online student business is a great way to take control of something, be your own boss, and find that bit of excitement that might be missing during these strange times.

It also helps to get you in the mindset of hard work and determination that will be needed in any future career that you choose.

You might not run your own business once you leave university, but by doing it now, you’ll learn some key skills that will stand you in good stead.

You might be thinking about how much money you can earn from an online business in university, as a way of paying the bills, having some extra cash to play with or saving up for the future.

Other student businesses might be about learning specific skills, like marketing a business or customer relations, with a view to the degree you are studying and your future career plans.

In some cases, students might open a business to make the most of a skill and hobby they are good at, or just to have fun with friends who you will be working with.

What Are The Best Business Ideas For Students?

How to start an online business as a student

There are so many great ideas for student businesses, especially those that can be performed online.

You can create any online business that you can think of, as long as you understand your skills, the marketplace, and the desire for the products or services that you wish to sell.

Online Tutoring

One of the most popular online university businesses for students is to offer tutoring and mentoring to other students who might be struggling with topics that you have already mastered.

You could offer coaching and mentoring to students who are younger than you and at an earlier stage of the university course that you are also doing.

Tutor Direct is a great website to take a look at to kick-start your tutoring career!


It is no surprise that the most popular and successful student entrepreneurs are those working within the technology sector.

Apps and online services aimed at students can be very successful and profitable if developed in an effective way.

There are many different areas that this could include, such as the aforementioned tutoring online, selling items of clothing, and even offering advice on living at uni!

It could also involve promoting local businesses, restaurants, takeaways and linking with them for promotional offers to your customers, or planning live events for music, comedy, film, and the arts.

Arts & Crafts

If you are artistic and have always liked making things, selling these items online and getting involved with local arts and crafts fairs and the could be a good step to take with an online student business!

The type of art you make and sell and the size of the operation is only limited by your imagination.

You could offer art and design services to business, become a homemade greetings card designer or create jewellery.

Clothing And Textiles

The student market is a vibrant one when it comes to clothing, textiles, and furniture.

If you are a dab hand at making your own clothes or upscaling furniture by using whatever you find around you, you could sell these items online at a price that isn’t too expensive for the student market, but still makes you a small profit!

These are just a few examples of popular student businesses online, but there is really no right or wrong answer to what type of business you run as a student.

What To Consider Before Starting A Business?

How to start an online business as a student

You must first think about a few things before going ahead and starting the business.

By running through this list, you might decide running an online business as a student isn’t for you, or it might give you an idea of how big you should aim for alongside your studies!

The Costs

For a student business, consider something that doesn’t have high start-up costs.

The fewer the overheads the better, as you do not want to pay out for business premises or have huge material costs. The burden of student debt is enough without adding more on top.

The Time

Don’t choose a business that will take over your life and leave you without much time to study, rest or have leisure time with friends.

Your studies are vital to your future life and you should balance your business idea with your studies.

Market Research And Product Knowledge

One of the key points on how to start an online business as a student is understanding the market and whether or not the products and services that you wish to offer are actually viable.

Speak to your friends and your fellow students about what they like and don’t like generally and look at how your favourite brands caught your attention.

How To Advertise Your Company

You might not have any budget to spend on social ads online, but that shouldn’t stop you from advertising your company and building your brand.

Use Tik Tok, Snapchat, and Instagram to post ads or to slowly build your brand in an exciting way. Ask your early adopters to share your products and services and incentivise that.

Regular content that is engaging, goes a long way to connect with users who could become your loyal customers.

Don’t discount traditional methods though, using university networks to advertise your business.

Every single lead and interaction matters, so put on a smile and aim for great customer service at all times! 🙂

What About Tax?

Eek, it’s the dreaded T word!

Just because you are a student, it doesn’t mean that you are exempt from paying tax on any products or services that you sell.

However, you should only inform HMRC of your business if you are selling enough items on a commercial basis that goes beyond making and selling individual items for friends.

If you are selling multiple items via a website or other online platform and you are earning more than £1,000 in sales, you should be prepared to pay tax and national insurance on your profits.

HMRC are pretty friendly though and a quick phone call should provide you with all the information you need.

And there you have it! This is just the start of how to start an online business as a student. Whether you want to build an online business empire or just want a bit of extra pocket money to enjoy student life, we hope we’ve been able to help you in some way. There are so many different student businesses to open in university and we’re sure that yours will be a success! Need some more advice? Check out our 10 online jobs students can do from home blog post here!

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