10 Web Businesses I Would Start If I Were In College!

If I were in college, and the University of Maryland was over 25 years ago for me, I would be looking at the world through a prism of the possibilities, not the world of high unemployment.

While the Tea Partiers, Democrats, and everybody in between is castigating the economy for their lost job (and I want my country back stupidity), I am saying wait a second. I look at the true reality for a tech savvy college kid, and I can come up with at least 10 businesses I would start right now… It is one of the best times to be a college kid and start a small business and we should promote them to do so.

For a 40-something person like myself it all seems gloom and doom, and for those in retirement, about to get to retirement, it is even more gloomier. We are perhaps about to enter into a 20 year cyclical downturn that may match the Japanese downturn from 1990 to now… This means potentially deflation, a double, triple dip recession, which kind of looks like a group of parabolas you could call a depression when you get right down to it.

So, why would I start these businesses if I were in college?

Because, in the middle of all this doom and gloom there is a glimmer of hope. We are, as you know, in the most connected period, because of the internet and mobile devices that man has ever been in. We are at the precipice of greatness and capability for those who can capture it. With just a notebook PC or iPad and a connection we have the world at our feet. The glass is truly half full. You just have to reach out and grab it.

Also interestingly enough I get a request to be an intern from a college grad or student every once in a while. I don’t have time for that… If you had sent me a proposal to do some business that helps me either increase sales or reduce costs, then we may have a conversation. Be bold, not helpless. Be at my level, not beholden to anyone.

Here are my ideas for college student businesses.

1. Customized Scrapbooks

If I were a young lady in college and had the desire, this is an easy one to get into. Just advertise on your web page that you will put together a physical or virtual scrapbook for people from their online photo albums (would be nice to have a physical book), and you will do a wedding, bar mitzvah, graduation, birthday, etc.

Skills you need for this service:
– ability to be able put a listing on Craigslist
– ability to know how to use Picassa, Flickr, Facebook?
– know how to work with scissors and glue?
– have a sense of design…
– lots of friends and relatives to test out your service.

2. Website Testing Service

This is where you fully test out stated and production websites for companies for a small fee. There is one big competitor out there, can’t remember their name. But there is room for more, a lot more companies that test things like usability, browsers working, new functions.

What you need for this service:
– probably a good idea to have a website.
– be detailed oriented.
– know how to SEO your site, know Craigslist, know some online marketing.
– a good game player probably would do good here.
– go to networking parties, meetings locally to find clients.

3. Substitute Game Player/Substitute Person Online

I hear that there are gamers out there, who are hired to be some rich kid’s substitute, while they are out and about. If it is not games, you can hire yourself out to be somebody or monitor things for people. Some people may actually want somebody else to go through their mail and monitor the details.

What you need for this business:
– be an excellent gamer.
– ability to use Craigslist and facebook for promotion.

4. Verification Services

There are tons of verification services out there, and people pay them all the time to verify who somebody sales who they are. But essentially, in the end, nothing is stopping you from going into the business. Look at the dating business these days, everybody needs small time private detective services. And being local, a real local kid who can check up on things is an opportunity to get paid.

What you need for this service:
– learning google, yellow pages, white pages
– ability to read a map, know how to call people
– some social engineering skills (good on the phone)
– ability to use craigslist and facebook, maybe a website.

5. iPhone/SmartPhone Glass Fix it Now Service

While there is a guy already fixing phones at every corner in america, it is not yet too late to jump in the fray with a new service, especially on campus. I happened to break my iphone glass and I went to a guy at the mall to fix it for like $79 bucks…

What you need for this service:
– Contact Apple, look for companies with fix it materials online.
– dexterity
– ability to work with glue
– ability to get flyers around town, maybe a billboard, use the free space.

6. Cellphone Reseller Service

Everybody has these old phones. Your job is to go around and buy the old ones, for very little and resell them to those who want em. Turns out that a used iPhone is worth a pretty penny. Refurb them, do what you have to with wipees…

What you need for this service:
– Ability to work with Mr. Clean wipes
– Ability to put up flyers with ads, and be creative.
– Ability to negotiate.
– Ability to work with ebay.

7. Lead Generation Services

Lead generation means taking somebody’s information and selling it to others who want. How do you start? You need to find a client or industry that needs leads. Examples are many, including local restaurants, car dealers, car wash, insurance, online colleges, organizations, cruises, airlines, websites (big one). Just ask what they will pay for a lead, and then go and get the leads.

What you need for this service:
– Good business sense (something I have lacked over the years)
– Good with managing data (Excel, google docs for newbies)
– Good negotiating skills.
– Creativity.

8. Skype After Hours Service

This is an old business, but it can be reborn in the world of Skype. Let’s say there is a website and that website only has hours between 8am and 5pm. Let’s say you are around from 5pm till midnight. You have the website state that they have after hours, using Skype. They list your skype number, which should also be Video, and if the customer misses something during the day, you take notes from the customer and leave it for the website. This is new twist on a very old phone service. Funny thing is the video skype service is probably better than most ecommerce companies current non-video offering.

What you need for this service:
– PC, notebook with webcam and mic.
– a decent shirt, no nudity.
– ability to use email and skype.
– a clean space to get the call, no ugly dorm room background. not sure how to make this happen, but it needs to be professional enough.

9. Lease It

This business model came to my attention when I ran into a local kid leasing books the local college. Turns out this business is booming, both nationally through big sites and on campuses around the country. So probably have heard of this one. This leasing deal turns out to be a pretty good solid couple thousand dollar a semester business if run well. And it goes way beyond books, perhaps lease play stations, Wii’s, maybe others only want these things for the weekend and don’t want to own or store it themselves.

What you need for this concept:
– some storage space.
– negotiating capability.
– ability to put up flyers and create a website.
– contacts and friends

10. Help By The Skype Hour

This is just a shot in the dark, but once again the old 900 number concept maybe on its way back, except this is using Skype. You need however, to not take the call until they have completed the paypal payment. What are you going to sell… Hmm, lots of things to sell help on… On a college campus I would say: Choosing Classes, Math Tutoring, English Tutoring, Game Tutoring (maybe) and any other knowledge you got. If people need it, they will buy it. I would say a brush up tutor service right before finals may be the way to go on this one. And the Skype part is probably a new twist on this.

What you need for this one:
– ability to set up and use skype.
– some kind of skill.
– ability to use craigslist, dorm boards, school paper.
– ability to set up Paypal.