To survive in the university is challenging for many and especially students from humble backgrounds. Although there is the HELB loan, it is not sufficient to pay full school fees and leave you with enough pocket money. I had to look for a simple business that didn't require huge startup capital and balance with academics. For this reason, I decided to start selling beauty products at the university.
Startup Capital for My Beauty Products Business
The startup capital for my business was from my HELB loan. I was receiving Ksh 50,000 HELB loan every academic year. Eight thousand would be sent to the school account as school fees, while I received Ksh 42,000 as pocket money every academic year. I decided to invest the money I was receiving as pocket money in a business.
I started the business with only Ksh 10,000. I bought a few beauty products and decided to test with them if it was a viable business. It didn't take long before I noticed students liked my products. In less than two months, I had sold all the stock to completion. I made Ksh 6,000 profit from the stock, which was good money considering that it was new. I decided to purchase larger stock worth Ksh 17,000 and mostly fast-moving beauty products.
Read also: How to start a cosmetics business in Kenya.
Sourcing Beauty Products
At the time, I was studying at the University of Nairobi Main Campus and this made it easy for me to buy beauty products at lower prices within Nairobi town. I was sourcing my beauty stock along Dubois Road. Products are cheaper there and it is easily accessible.
Best Beauty Products for University Students
Among the beauty products I was selling include perfumes, eye shadow, face cream, body lotion, mascara, primer, highlighter, blushes, eyelashes, eyeliner, eyebrows, finishing powder, lipstick and facial steamer. The beauty of this business is that it didn't have many overhead costs. I only needed to carry the products to school and show them to my classmates. Sometimes I relied on online advertising through school WhatApp groups, Facebook pages, and customer referrals.
Read also: How to start a baby shop business in Kenya.
Balancing Academics and Beauty Products Business
Doing business while in school is challenging and it requires much discipline. In many of the semesters, I used to have two days when I didn't have lectures. On such days, I would go to town to buy stock. When I had bought the stock, I would visit my friends and classmates to make deliveries for orders they had made.
When I had classes, it was even easier since I didn't have to look for people and walk long distances to make deliveries. I would carry my beauty products to school and once the lecture was over, I would show them to my classmates. I would also bring orders to those who had ordered some.
Weekends were my best days since people were free and had enough time to market and sell my products. The business didn't take much of my time once it was established and people had my contacts.
Challenges I Face Selling Beauty Products in Campus
There are many challenges that I face when doing business in the university. The main one is the inability to balance time for academics and time to sell. When I have classes the whole day, I am unable to run my business. However, during such times, I carry the beauty products to class and sell them to my course mates after a lecture.
The other challenge is the lack of finances to run my business. I have to pay my bills like house rent and cater for some academic expenses, which takes a significant percentage of my revenues. Sometimes I have to borrow money from my friends to get more stock and return the money when I sell.
Making deliveries is also challenging. Sometimes I get orders from people living away from school. I have to use fare to make the delivery and when I leave class late, I'm forced to make the deliveries past 8 pm.
Read more: How to start a furniture business.
Doing Business in Campus
A university is a good place where one can easily do business. There are no bureaucracies and you do not need to register a business or buy a business permit. You only need to establish a customer base by marketing your business. Once you are known for a particular product, people will be calling you to make orders. However, students should learn how to balance business with academics. Some students tend to miss out on class and fail their exams since they only focus on making money.