Great Small Business Ideas for Newly Graduated Adults

Many college students and new graduates dream of starting their own business. The Harvard Review survey conducted in 2021 found that about 18% of graduating college seniors planned on creating their own businesses. Many colleges offer a major in entrepreneurship, which teaches how to start and run a business. But one thing the classes don’t cover is what business the students should run. That’s up to the students themselves.

So it’s crucial that when wanting to start a new business upon graduating, you know what your business is. What will it look like? What other skills do you have? What interests you? Most successful business owners find a problem that needs solving. Then, they come up with a solution and test the idea.

This could be anything from solving flat meatballs to keeping dogs hydrated during a walk. Not everything needs to be original, though. You could want to start a more typical business like tutoring or real estate. There’s still a lot of research and planning involved in figuring out what will make your establishment stand out, but at least you won’t need to invent something new.

Regardless of the type of business you’re starting, you’ll need to formulate a business plan. Determine how much money the start-up costs will be. If you don’t have enough money, you must apply for a loan or find investors. This is just the beginning of starting a business. If you’re one of the 18% mentioned above who wants to start a business but aren’t sure what to choose or how to start, we’ve put together this list of great small business ideas to help you get started.

1. Freelancing

If you’ve got a knack for copywriting, editing, illustration, photography, or web design, starting your own freelance business requires very little money. While the completion is in this area, and artificial intelligence has made things a bit challenging, there are still plenty of clients to be had if you’ve got something unique to offer.

Start by finding the area in which your talents lie. Then find your niche; what are your interests? What are you knowledgeable about? Develop a portfolio and create a website where visitors and potential clients can see your work. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and spiffy.

Scan job sites, advertise your services on social media, and be on the lookout for other small businesses that are looking for assistance with their marketing. Freelancing can be great because it offers flexible hours and remote work options, and you can decide what type and how many projects you want to take on. There’s a variety of work, so you won’t get bored.

One day, you may be writing about hopper shops or a grain pump service, and the next you could be researching a hydroseeding company or surrogate costs. It allows you to work another job while you build a client base. As the business grows, you may be able to quit your day job and maybe even hire a few other freelancers. According to Indeed, the average freelancer makes about $31 per hour.

2. Tech Support

Do you have a knack for problem-solving and know computers inside and out? If you answered yes, you may want to consider a tech support business. Since just about everyone has some technology in their home, support professionals are in high demand.

You only need a phone, a website, a computer, and knowledge. Your services can be advertised at schools, coffee shops, libraries, and on social media, so business marketing costs almost nothing. As a tech support person, customers will call or email you about their issues. It’s your job to determine the problem, troubleshoot it, and talk them through a solution.

In some cases, you may need to provide house calls or have the client bring their device to you. As your business grows, you can consider branching out and offering support services in other areas like website development and security. The average salary for this profession is $63,000 a year. But this can vary significantly by region and reputation.

3. Tutoring

If you love helping people gain new skills, starting a tutoring business is a great way to get your feet wet in the small business world. Tutoring, like most small businesses, allows you the flexibility to make your hours and decide your workload. If you only want a few clients a few days a week, that’s up to you.

Like freelancing, determine where your strengths are. What skills do you have that can help others? It doesn’t necessarily need to be school-age children or related to academics. Suppose you’re a fabulous cook who offers private cooking classes.

If auto body is your niche, purchase a few old cars, like repairable Corvettes or trucks, and provide services that teach people how to do simple repairs. Coaching and endurance training are always in demand, so if you’re athletically inclined, offer sports clinics. While you’ll need to start small with a limited clientele, if you do well the possibilities for expansion are endless.

After deciding what type of tutoring you want to focus on, make sure you have the right supplies – books, computer programs, etc. Then, build a website and advertise on social media. Parents of younger children are always looking for a good tutor, so put the word out in your neighborhood, to friends with kids, the local library, etc. A professional tutor can make up to $100,000 a year.

4. Private Investigator

When people graduate with a degree in criminal justice, they often aspire to become a law enforcement officer or lawyer. Both of these professions can take time to get started. Lawyers must attend law school and police officers must wait for departments to conduct their extensive testing and selection process. A great business to start while waiting it out (or even if you are not interested in those professions) is that of a private investigator.

You must be licensed and insured, but offering private investigation services can be exciting and lucrative. As a private investigator, you’ll work with various clients and companies. Contrary to popular myth, an investigator does much more than hide in the shadows waiting to snap a photo of a cheating spouse.

They help find lost or missing loved ones, help with fraud investigations, disability claims, and lawsuits, learn to care for missing property, and help determine the cause of accidents. A private investigator uses a combination of technology and good old-fashioned footwork to help clients resolve issues. They use contacts such as police officers, a bondsman, attorneys, and other court officials to aid their work.

A good private investigator must be discreet, have good observation skills, and pay attention to detail. A business of this type can be a full-time job or a side hustle that can continue after you’ve embarked on another career. Depending on how many clients and the depth of assignments, a private investigator can make about $60,000 a year to start.

5. Financial Advising

If you have a flair for numbers and accounting, a financial advising firm could be the start-up business you’re looking for. Why go through the arduous task of many finance recruitment interviews, when you can be your boss? In addition to some serious math skills, a good financial advisor must be well-educated on the stock market and the ins and outs of sound investing.

Financial advisors help people decide where they should be placing their money to gain the biggest return. They work with clients to develop a financial portfolio, including stocks, retirement funds, college funds, real estate, and other investments. The advisor will then monitor all aspects of the portfolio, advise the client of any fluctuations, and suggest changes when needed.

Having a financial advising company means you can make your hours and work when you want. But you may want to invest time in this business to gain clients and their trust. Reputation is everything when dealing with other people’s money. If you do a great job at the start, word will soon spread, as will your business.

This is one business that will have some overhead costs, like renting office space. You’ll need someplace to meet with clients in a professional setting, and that’s not going to be cheap. You’ll also need a good computer and a lot of financial software to help keep you and your clients organized.

6. Start a Self-Care Business

Now more than ever, the self-care industry is a big business. As more and more people are learning not only the physical benefits but the mental and spiritual benefits of taking care of oneself. The self-care industry has many sub-areas in which you’re likely to find a niche.

It’s not just about beauty and skincare anymore, and you don’t need to be an influencer or creator to be successful. It’s not necessary to have your brand (though that’s certainly possible). More and more, the self-care industry is catering to the changing needs of men and children.

Even the traditional beauty care products used by women have extended to include men, as they’ve begun to realize they have unique skin and haircare needs that traditional products may not address. Small startups like Squatch and Hims have evolved into million-dollar businesses by targeting the male audience. Other subsets of the care industry include aromatherapy products like oils, meditation products, and services like life coaching. What area you focus your business on depends on your interests, talents, time, and money.

For instance, if you’ve got an interest in and knowledge of skincare and beauty products, you might want to become a reseller for a well-known brand. This will involve a lot of outreach and marketing to gain a client base. You’ll also need to work for a cosmetics fulfilment company that can house, assemble, and package orders for you. This is another business that you can start small and expand as demand for your product increases.

8. Golf Cart Consignment/Dealership

Golf carts have become extremely popular over the past decade. No longer are they just for middle-aged men tooling around the course. Their usefulness has been recognized by sports and event venues, college campuses, retirement communities, and airports for their compact convenience of transporting people and packages.

You’ll also find them in use on farms and ranches, as well as gated communities for when people can’t or don’t want to walk but don’t feel like firing up a car or truck. The great thing about deciding to start a golf cart business is, you don’t need to be a golfer or even know much about the carts themselves, but you will need to learn. You can choose to start small and work with a knowledgeable mechanic. Purchase a few used carts in need of repair or refurbishing.

You can potentially do this in your garage at the beginning to save on overhead costs, or you may consider renting a small space. If you have the funds or can manage a loan or investors right out of college, you might feel like a golf cart franchise. Many brands offer franchise opportunities and require varying degrees of investment and time.

Remember that a golf cart franchise has many facets, including selling, repairing, marketing, and business finances, so it’s a good idea, when considering this one, to think about taking on a partner or two. Who knows, if your business grows, you may want to branch out and specialize in luxury golf carts or specifics like all terrain golf tires or become a custom golf cart seat manufacturer   

9. Purchase a Franchise

If you’ve saved your pennies or are able to get a loan/investors, you may want to consider purchasing a franchise. A franchise is a single business building that operates as part of a chain. For example, McDonald’s restaurants are not owned by a single person. Most are owned and used by individuals who split profits with the corporation. While owning a McDonald’s may be out of reach for most recent grads, there are quite a few that are within reach, like a Club Pilates or Kona Ice business.

Starting a business right out of college can range from breezy and easy to complex and challenging, depending on what type of business you’re looking to get into. However, they all take a substantial amount of planning and commitment. Before jumping in feet first, consider interning or shadowing at an established business similar to the one you wish to start.

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