JB and I started My University Money the year after we graduated from university (I guess technically I’m still in university while I take a master’s degree in education). We both moved to rural areas and suddenly found ourselves with a lot of time on our hands, but more importantly, less distraction vying for our attention. As students, I think it is safe to say we both had a lot of “free” time. Only this free time quickly disappeared as our schedules became monopolized by student government, residence events, intramurals, and of course the notoriously busy social life that being a student often entails. When all these time commitments suddenly disappeared and we didn’t know what to do with our time, we eventually arrived at the idea of starting a website. We thought it would be a fun experiment, a way to engage people from around the world, and a new hobby. It didn’t take us long to arrive at our theme since we had both enjoyed helping other students during our time at University together. In the past 16 months we have learned an incredible amount of information about how the world of blogging works, and how many ways there are to make money online. The more I learn, the more I wish I had started building a presence on the web (besides my Facebook account) a long time ago.
Admit It, You’re Not Really That Busy
University is the perfect time to start a cool little web-based side business. There are an unbelievable amount of ways to make money online, and I’m not going to get into a full-fledged discussion on that right now, suffice to say that there is probably something out there for everyone in terms of a way to make a tidy little profit. The lifestyle and calendar year of university is a perfect fit for the flexibility of a web-based business. Students’ schedules can be all over the place (who doesn’t love an afternoon nap right?), but generally they have a fair amount of downtime to play with. The majority of university graduates have intense periods of study and writing time during their school year, and then 6 week stretches where there is substantially less overall work to do. These blocks of free time are the perfect openings for building up a web portfolio of writing content that you can either use to start your own sites, or for freelance work. There is so much writing, designing, and web-based work out there, that you can take on as much as you want at any given time.
A Bastion of Learning and Innovation
The other main reason that university would have been the perfect time to start a web-based side gig, is that post-secondary students are in innovation incubation chambers whether they realize it or not. The flashy example would be Mark Zuckerberg and the now famous “Social Network.” While there is always the potential for the next Facebook to come out of late-night brainstorming (often fueled by some “bottled creative juices”), there is also plenty of room between failure and something iconic like Facebook. When you are in university you are surrounded by high-energy, young people who often have a thirst for knowledge and a lot of motivation. They don’t have a lot of responsibilities, and are unburdened by having a mindset that is stuck in one spot due to their past experiences. Plus, most students will work for cheap and are used to really crappy jobs, this should give most young web-entrepreneurs access to a great labour pool to help out with whatever project they choose. Imagine getting 4 or 5 people together and making a website about a common hobby, or putting your heads together and creating a marketable service for the dozens of freelance sites out there. The possibilities are endless and definitely a lot more fun than many of the student jobs I’ve seen (call centres anyone?).
I wish I had started doing SOMETHING web-based years ago, and I’m not even sure which area I would choose. Even if I would have just identified a few decent domain names it would have been a big help. When it comes to creating a presence online, time is vitally important. You need a little seasoning to ensure the search engines like you, as well as time to build a solid reputation. I can’t believe all that I have learned in 16 months, imagine if I had started 32 months ago? What about 64 months ago? I might even be making a full-time living off of the net by now if I had started back then. The great thing about starting up an internet business from your dorm room is that you can start up a business from your dorm room! Every modern student I know already had the requisite sunken costs which are basically limited to a computer and an internet connection. For a hundred dollars and a dozen or so man hours of research time to immerse yourself in internet fundamentals you can start working towards building your own online empire whenever you have a spare hour. This is a huge entrepreneurial advantage over past generations when bricks and mortar-based companies needed substantial capital investments to start up.
Take a look at the info-graphic below to see just how good starting a business can be in the UK
The Success of Small Businesses – An infographic by the team at AXA Business Insurance
It’s a Big Pie… Go Get a Piece!
We’re more than happy to share what we’ve learned with people who want to start their own online business. Just drop us a line and we can at least point you in the right direction. We had a lot of help getting to where we are, so we don’t mind “Paying It Forward” (great movie btw). The best time to start is yesterday!