It's a tough job market out there for everyone, but especially recent college graduates. With little firsthand experience, it can be difficult to land that first job, which is of course necessary to gain experience in the first place. Finding a job in your field is certainly desirable, but for some the calling of launching their own business offers more promise than interview after fruitless interview. Instead of waiting around for their dream jobs to open up, many recent grads are choosing to start careers as entrepreneurs. Here are eight low-cost businesses you can start as a new college graduate.
Did you dream of working in the fashion world, but couldn't find more than a few low-level opportunities in the field? If you have a great eye for design, you can strike out on your own and start an independent clothing company. Knowing how to sew or silk screen will help you get off the ground, but you'll eventually need to find a good manufacturer to reach the next stage of growth. As with any business, high-quality products combined with great marketing skills are the keys to success.
Thanks to social media and the 24-hour news cycle, creative individuals like writers and graphic designers can use their talents to produce high-quality, shareable content for businesses and media outlets. A growing part-time economy of freelance and contract workers makes it easier than ever to market yourself as a professional freelance content creator. This can also be a great way to build up your skills should you choose to seek a full-time job later on.
In today's tech-obsessed world, most people have smartphones, tablets and laptops that they use daily. With constant usage, there's a good chance that at least one of those devices is going to crash or otherwise break at some point. If you're a techie who can fix these issues with relative ease, you can offer to repair people's electronics for cheaper than what the big retailers charge. Get started by marketing your services to students at your alma mater who don't want to wait for the campus IT department to fix their hard drives.
If you spent your undergrad years tinkering with sound-mixing software and staffing the DJ booth at your college radio station, starting an event entertainment company could be the right path for you. With only your music collection and your laptop, you can get people out on the dance floor at weddings and birthday parties, or simply provide background music at more-casual events. DJ equipment is a big investment, but plenty of companies offer daily rentals of speakers, subwoofers and other accessories that you can use until you save up enough to buy your own.
Were you constantly hitting the gym after class? Turn your passion for fitness into a lucrative job by becoming a fitness instructor or personal trainer. You'll have to put in a small amount of time and money to get certified, but organizations like the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America offer online certification programs that you can complete at your own pace. Once you're a certified trainer, you can look for openings at local gyms or work one-on-one with clients at their homes. You can also find numerous programs for certification to teach fitness classes like yoga or Zumba.
Are you a wiz with software tools like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop? Many small businesses are clamoring for an affordable way to gain access to professional branding, such as logos, banners and signs. If you're about to leave college with a toolbox full of graphic design skills, consider launching a freelance design business that caters to other entrepreneurs. Once you establish a network of contacts and a reputation for quality designs, you can leverage past work into new jobs and possibly even set yourself up with a full time job right out of college.
Do you have a knack for knitting, jewelry making or creating other small crafts? If you can produce a lot of items quickly, you can open up an online storefront and sell your creations to the public. Startup costs are extremely low if you purchase your materials in bulk from a craft supplier, and if you can turn orders around quickly, you'll make a profit in no time. You could even turn your store into a full-time gig.
Social media consultant
Want to put that marketing or communications degree to good use? Consider starting a social media consulting firm. Small businesses often have to take care of their own social media marketing. But, with so many other responsibilities, the company's owners may be too busy to come up with great strategies for each of the growing number of social channels companies are expected to utilize. As a consultant, you can help businesses determine the best tactics, posting schedules and content for your clients' target audiences. As their follower counts grow, so will your business.Credit: Anita Rahman
Adam C. Uzialko also contributed to this article.