What's Next? 11 Small Business Ideas for Recent College Grads

Updated June 01, 2023
Catherine Cohen
Written byCatherine Cohen
Zachary Ace Aiuppa
Edited byZachary Ace Aiuppa
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The job hunt after graduating college is a time full of uncertainty and emotions. With current economic fears, COVID-19 precautions, and high unemployment, recent grads are struggling even more to make their way into the workforce. If you're having trouble finding traditional employment after graduation, it might be a good time to ditch the standard 9-5 job and take your future into your own hands.

Remember, there is no one right way to start your career. The job market has evolved in the past few years, opening up many new opportunities and breaking preconceived notions of how someone should begin their journey into employment.

Here are some small business ideas to help you do what you love and be your own boss. This list also takes into account the realities of quarantine and social distancing. You can do any of these ideas while keeping up social distancing, and then continue to evolve your enterprise when life begins shifting back to a more open society.

1. Bring Your Crafts to the Market

If you have a crafty hobby or skill, maybe even one you recently mastered during quarantine, bring it to the e-commerce world. Homemade projects have always been attractive to customers because of their uniqueness factor.

Whether you make jewelry, home decor, clothing, or graphic design prints, anything you create can be sold on websites like Etsy or Shopify to help start your online business. You can display your crafts on social media to build hype and show your consumer audience what products are available.

Another way to build traction for your business is to show your buyers how you craft your products with quick videos on social media platforms such as Instagram or Facebook. Showing the creation process of the items you are selling gives the audience the full experience of where the product came from and the time taken to create it.

2. Share Your Social Media Skills

If you are a recent college graduate, you probably have some experience with social media. You can use those skills to help others develop their businesses with your knowledge of social media strategies.

There are many ways to profit from these skills, including online strategy classes, personal consulting, and using your social media to promote other brands while giving tips to your followers. Getting to help out and be a part of other people's small business stories while starting one of your own builds a great community of people driven to develop their passions and become successful.

3. Teach Fitness

If you love health and fitness, be a part of others' health journey. To become a fitness instructor, you must become certified, which you can do through online programs such as acefitness.org. Once you are certified, you could normally become part of a studio and start instructing. With gyms closed amid COVID-19 restrictions, you could start now by sharing personalized workouts online or working directly with clients over video software such as Zoom.

Another fitness component many people search for is meal prep and advice. Sharing eating habits and specific meal ideas to help in overall health can transform the fitness services you offer into a more well-rounded experience. These can be shared on social media or as an add-on to direct client work.

4. Show Your Foodie Adventures Through a Lens

Everyone loves to snap a few pictures of their food from time to time, but if you enjoy it more than most, maybe sharing this food content to an audience could be a start for you. Sharing food photography has become a huge source of content on social media, especially on Instagram, which can lead you to a small-scale personal business. Once you have the equipment, come up with a photography business plan to market your services to clients.

Start by building up a strong portfolio of your photographs to show future employers. Once you have built up a unique and effective photography style, you can reach out to restaurants and offer your services. You could take photos for their menu or for promotional purposes. During these times of social distancing, restaurants are struggling with capacity restrictions. Your clients can use your photography to promote themselves online to prompt take out orders and overall awareness of their food.

5. Inspire Others With Your Recipes

Maybe your love of food belongs in front of the camera rather than behind it. If your talents are in making your own recipes, why not set up a business to share that knowledge with the world? People always want inspiration and help in the kitchen. You can share recipes, show videos, or even put all your recipes together into a cookbook; the possibilities are endless.

One rapidly growing platform for this type of content is TikTok. Many people are growing a following through 60-second videos sharing their unique recipes and cooking tutorials on this app. The quick nature of these videos gives the audience what they want in a short amount of time. It also entices them to try your recipe even more because it gives them the impression that it's an easy process.

6. Master Beauty Skills

People are always in need of personal beauty services like manicures, haircuts, and eyebrow waxing. If you take time to master one of these procedures and have some upfront costs for supplies, you can start your own business with personal consultations for clients. With the COVID-19 rules in place, big salons are still not easily accessible. With proper health precautions, you can take your skills to client's homes and save them a trip.

7. Freelance Your Writing

Content is king, and businesses always need people to write copy. If you had some success writing papers in college, take what you know and try to find some writing jobs on platforms like Upwork and Contently. Freelance writing can be done from anywhere and is usually paid by the hour or word. You choose your own way to operate. Once you have proven your writing skills and ability to abide by deadlines, networking and referrals from clients will help stabilize your name in freelance.

8. Tailor and Perform Clothing Alterations

If your parents ever taught you how to sew that annoying button back on your shirt or how to hem your pants, take those skills a step further, and start your own alterations business. You would only have to have direct contact with people when doing the initial measurements. After that, you can work at your own pace from home, and they can pick up their item when it's finished. The only startup costs would be the supplies needed to make the alterations.

9. Launch a Cleaning Service

If you consider yourself an organized, clean person, realize the value of your skills and start your own cleaning business. Many people don't have the time or motivation to keep up their space's cleanliness as they should. Build up a client base, take the necessary health precautions for the current times, and deliver your services.

Along with general cleaning services for the whole house, an idea to differentiate your business from others is to specialize in a specific area. You can specialize in kitchens with knowledge of how to treat different types of appliances. If you master a particular area, that will become your specialty, and more people will bring you in for your expertise rather than a general cleaning job.

10. Detail and Clean Cars

If cleaning buildings isn't your strong suit, maybe cleaning and detailing car interiors is. With a few startup costs for supplies, you can clean and detail clients' cars while they carry on with their day. Once you build a client base, start getting referrals to really make your mark and get people talking about your work.

11. Help Others Build Their Resumes

In college, learning how to make a killer resume is vital to the job-hunting experience. Take those skills and help others who haven't had the chance to learn all the tips you know. Start your own resume building/revising business. People can hire you to make their resumes competitive and presentable all through lessons you learned in college. It's rewarding to know you have helped someone get a step closer to their dream job while you are in the same boat.

Take the Leap

If none of these ideas appeal to you, look for the self-employment option that fits your own skills and dreams. Even in the midst of quarantine, there will always be a demand for the goods and services small businesses provide. The basic principle of entrepreneurship is the same — find an unfilled need and fill it.

Choosing this entrepreneurial route might seem scary, but the time after graduation is a great time to take the leap and start your own small business. Create the life you want to live by doing what you want on your terms. The big picture might seem daunting, but there are many resources to help you get started.

Swyft Filings is one great resource to relieve some of the stress. We'll handle the paperwork you need to become an official business and do what you love. Just talk to our helpful business experts today, and we'll help you take the next steps on your self-employment journey.

Originally published on October 25, 2022, and last edited on June 01, 2023.

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