How to Start a Dropshipping Business While in College

Most college students have limited budget for room and board, tuition fees, and books, which explains why many of them work after school and in between classes either as full-time or part-time employees. Yet, there are legendary CEOs who started out in college dorms, like Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Paul Allen and Bill Gates (Microsoft), Michael Dell (Dell Computer), Daniel Ha (Disqus), and Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian (Reddit).

Is it possible to juggle classes and a startup business? The answer is a resounding “yes.” With today’s automation in e-commerce, you can literally start an online store within a few hours and begin generating income, even if you have no previous coding skills. You can learn more here. 

These 2 essential tools are crucial for your new online store startup: a reliable dropshipping app and a Facebook Ads account.

Dropshipping is a business model in which the store owner doesn’t keep the products nor fulfill the orders. The items will only be purchased by the store owner from the supplier only after they have been bought by the customers. The orders will be shipped directly from the supplier to the customers.

Thus, a dropshipping business is ideal for those with limited, or even non-existent, startup capital like college students. It’s literally low risk, high reward, and provides a real-life experience, especially for business major students.

Now, here are the 3 essential steps in starting a dropshipping e-commerce store.

One, select an e-commerce platform that comes with a reliable dropshipping app.

For instance, if you use Shopify, you can install Oberlo dropshipping management app that simplifies the whole process of sourcing pre-vetted suppliers, pricing and changing prices globally or per item, connecting with suppliers, and automated out-of-stock notification.

Two, make sure that the products sold are highly sought after.

To find best-selling items on Amazon and eBay, use Jungle Scout and ShelfTrend. Since your dropshipping store isn’t on Amazon or eBay, you only use these data analytics platforms for informational purposes that you can apply in your store.

Three, promote with influencer marketing on Instagram and/or Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads.

While you must find your own influencers on Instagram, who are “minor celebrities” among their followers, Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads are paid campaigns. It’s recommended to start small and do A/B testing to find the best performing ads.

Since Instagram is now a part of Facebook, you can manage the ads in the same account. Choose among Facebook Ads: domain ads, multi-product ads (carousel), offer ads, video ads, lead ads, canvas, sponsored mentions, and dynamic ads. Instagram offers photo ads, video ads, carousels, canvas Story ads, and Story ads.

About the Author

Jennifer Xue is an award-winning author, columnist, and serial entrepreneur based in Northern California. She is also a digital strategist for several e-commerce and app companies. Her byline has appeared in Forbes, Fortune, Esquire, Cosmopolitan,, Business2Community, Addicted2Success, Good Men Project, Positively Positive, and others. Her blog is