How to Operate a Small Business from Your Dorm Room (without Annoying Your Roommates)

College is a great time to learn new life skills, work toward a rewarding career, and network with individuals you may find in powerful positions later in life. The college experience, however, should not be limited to just cramming information and working toward a piece of paper.

College is a prime time to begin exploring your entrepreneurial drive.

Many of the world’s biggest companies were spawned from individuals studying away at college:

·  Sergey Brin and Larry Page went with their idea of Google

·  Michael Dell spawned one of the largest PC businesses

·  Mark Zuckerberg founded the world’s largest social network

·  Bill Gates gave us Microsoft

·  Steve Jobs launched Apple

These monumental accomplishments may be tightly paired with the tech industry, but there are countless others that have passed through college that have created incredible businesses in all areas of the marketplace.

Simply put: the dorm room may be the ideal place to start a business.

But there are a few items you should take account …

1. Find a Flexible Model

Two quick questions about your business (or idea):

·  Is it going to get in the way of your studies?

·  Can it operate without you constantly monitoring it?

Look, we all have big ideas for business, but if it gets in the way of a degree we’re already paying for that just means we’re stuck footing the bill for a ton of student loans (without having that important piece of paper).

Sure, there are those who have founded fortune 500 companies from their dorm but let’s be real and keep it grounded in reality. The business you start may go onto something great but keep your focus on what’s in front of you now, so you don’t end your time in college with two colossal failures.

Likewise, find a business model that is flexible to your schedule.

Having to answer phone calls all day, all night, all the time, means you don’t have time to attend class or study. Business models that rely heavily on shipping products may also disrupt your schedule from having to travel back and forth to the post office.

What you may want to consider is learning more about offering freelance services, drop shipping, affiliate marketing, online advertising, or web development. These are flexible business models anyone can operate from their dorm that won’t eat up too much time. Otherwise, try to keep the physical business stuff for the weekends, if possible.

2. Respect Your Roommates

It’s absolutely essential that you do not disrupt their goals when running a business from your dorm.

Constantly moving product, inviting clients to chat, creating video content, holding meetings with employees, and other aspects of business aren’t exactly suitable for small dorm rooms, especially when it comes time for finals.

Think of how annoyed you can get when your roommate stays in the common room blabbing away on their phone for many hours.

An ideal way to handle many of the items listed above is to go virtual – keep your meetings, sales pitches, and customer support online through software like Skype or

You can also look into audio equipment options from Headsets Direct, which has a huge selection of headsets that will cut down on chatter and allow you to handle your business calls virtually.

Keep an eye out for features that like noise reduction so you can keep those late night sales calls to a minimum while your roommates are busy doing their studies.

3. Understand the Legality

Two major items to consider:

·  Your college may have policies against operating a business on campus

·  Employing other students under-the-table can lead to tax troubles

Yes, you may be itching to get your business started, but it’s not worth it if it means you face trouble by the educational institution. It may only be a slap on the wrist for some instances of conducting business but it all depends on your college – some may go as far as expulsion due to a breach in student policy.

Check with the administration about the rules for conducting business from your dorm.

Also, you may be inclined to hire friends and fellow classmates as employees. Since you’re at an agile moment in your business the pay may be under-the-table, which is a big no-no for you and your employees when it comes to tax time.

If you’re going to hire others while you’re in college, check into the legal requirements, documentation, and process of using the help as freelance contractors, which should alleviate some of the issues with pay.


Being surrounded by hundreds, even thousands, of your peers who all want to do something great will give you the inspiration and drive to pursue your ideas and passion.

Operating from a dorm room will give you a taste of business.

Who knows if it expands beyond the walls of the institution?

Just remember to stay flexible to avoid disrupting your classes, respect your peers, and follow the legal guidelines.

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