By Christopher Bennett, Instructor, Computer Systems Institute, Elgin, Illinois

According to an October 2012 article in Money Magazine, the average class of 2011 college graduate owes $26,600 in student loan debt. This fact could lead some young, entrepreneurial-minded individuals to question whether or not they could do better by investing $27,000 into a small business of their own. While many entrepreneurs, admittedly, could earn as much or more than they do working for themselves if they worked for someone else, the freedom and potential for personal success far outweighs the risks for some.

Even today, only about 40 percent of all American adults have earned a four-year degree. Since several of America’s most notable corporations are either headed or founded by high-school or college dropouts (Bill Gates, Harlan Sanders, David Green, David Oreck, Dustin Moskovitz, and George Eastman, to name a few), it has been proven that one need not have a degree in order to succeed in business. I thought I would share my shortlist of modern businesses young entrepreneurs might consider.

Three Businesses for the Entrepreneur without a Degree

Automotive Repair Shop

In order to start or open a car repair shop, one need not have a college degree. With automotive service rates varying from $60 to $90 per hour in some communities, along with a modest mark-up on parts installed, an auto repair business can generate enough cash flow to provide a lucrative paycheck and profits for the owners. The owner of the shop should have good knowledge of mechanics and perhaps have earned an ASE certification in at least one automotive mechanics discipline. Additionally, to run a service business well, good people skills are required too.

Computer Repair and Managed Services Company

Although computers have become rather disposable over the past few years, so have the staff IT personnel many businesses today. Often, organizations scrap their staff IT roles and outsource them to companies like HP. In a local community, there is often a market for contracted network and PC maintenance companies to support smaller businesses within the community. To start a managed services company, one might consider passing a vendor-neutral certification like CompTIA A+, Network+, or PDI+. Additionally, sales skills are important to building the relationships that will lead to winning contracts.

Internet Playdate Café

Another new business idea that may be a great opportunity for people who love to be surrounded by happy children is an internet playdate café. Parents of young children can sit and sip lattes or hot chocolate, prepared by baristas, while their children play in a play area in the center of the coffee shop in the parents’ full view. One example of this concept is called CafeNPlay, located just outside of Chicago.

Regardless of whether an individual has completed a four-year degree, there are many entrepreneurial opportunities available today for those who truly have the will and spirit to invest the time toward a new venture.