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Build a business while at uni with just $20

Young student sits on the grass with a laptop.
Study disruptions provide an opportunity to think outside the quadrangle. (Source: Getty)

The past 18 months have seen university campuses temporarily shut down, leaving students juggling new lifestyles and more eager than ever to use their spare time to begin building a business.

There is a notion that starting a business means you need to have significant capital to be willing to invest.

While true in some cases, if it’s your first time, there is nothing wrong with bootstrapping.

Two years ago, at the start of the pandemic, I permanently deferred university to focus on building my brands.

I was fortunate enough to be able to invest a small amount, but if I had to do it all over again with next to nothing, this is exactly how I would do it.

What are you selling?

If you decide the product route fits best, I highly recommend checking out the dropshipping business model.

Although imperfect, it's a good structure to help you grow your capital and understand marketing and advertising.

Alternatively, you can sell a service, in which case hopefully the only fixed cost will be your time.

But, depending on your pricing structure, for example 50 per cent up front, you can use that cash flow to fund the service.

The fixed costs:

Trying to build a business on a lunch-money budget will be difficult, but the best use of those funds should be towards branding related items.

This will play an integral role in converting your initial sales.

The most important is your website domain name. For roughly $10 or less, you can get your hands on a branded .com domain (I suggest using GoDaddy).

Your goal should be to not only provide a quality product or service but to have your branding look the part.

Another misconception is that building a website will cost you a lot of money and time, however there are thousands of free Shopify tutorials on YouTube, which can help you create a website that does the job in a few hours.

When it comes to paying for the site, Shopify offers a free 14-day trial to new accounts, which should hopefully provide the perfect window to get your first sales to pay for the next month of your subscription.

Free marketing methods:

Facebook groups are an extremely underrated place to garner your first few sales.

Depending on your line of work, there will be niche communities you can join and subtly plug your product or service.

An example of this would be if I built websites, I would find a local business community and promote my services.

If you are selling a service, it’s important to have a portfolio. So, you might even consider doing some initial work at cost to build that foundation.

Micro-influencer affiliate marketing is another strategy that can prove effective for anything e-commerce.

People stand in a circle looking at their mobile phones.
Find your audience where they spend most of their time. (Source: Getty)

Reach out to a large group of influencers within your niche who have between 5,000 and 50,000 followers and offer them either a free product or a revenue share on all sales they make. Please note that this strategy is purely a patience and numbers game. You will get a lot of declines but don't be discouraged.

TikTok and Instagram reels are the two perfect places for easy organic growth.

Due to the explosion of short-form content, these platforms now compete, so make the best use of this and post as much as you can.

A single video has the potential to go viral and promote your business to new clients.

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