Working hard for the money: Students turn hobbies into businesses

By Alex Hoffman

Jacob Fisher works on a lawnmower. He's owned a lawn care business since 2006. (Photo by Jacob Fisher)

Most college students anticipate looking for a job when graduation looms near, but a few have created their own jobs from scratch.

Jacob Fisher, a senior economics and finance, business management and entrepreneurial small business management triple major, started a summer lawn care business as a sophomore in high school in 2006.

Fisher said that he talked to his parents and determined that he didn’t like the employment options available to him at the time.

“My dad has a truck, and I love being outside and working with my hands, and so I was like ‘Hey, might as well start it, see what happens,’” he said.

Fisher’s not the only student to turn something he enjoys into a moneymaker.

Austin Drummond, a junior computer science and business management double major, started a business repairing iPhones after noticing a potential opportunity online.

“I saw on eBay that broken iPhones were going for significantly less than fixed iPhones.

So I thought I could turn a quick profit by buying these, fixing them, and reselling them, but I figured it was a lot less work if people broke their phones and brought them to me than me going out and buying and selling them,” Drummond said.

Drummond is expanding his work with iPhones by developing apps. Over the summer, he had a paid internship with Columbia City’s mayor’s office to create an app for the iPhone and iPad that gives citizens information regarding the city and allows them to report infrastructure issues.

Mike Ayers, a junior film production major, is the owner of an independent photography business called AYERSphoto.

“As far as the business front,” Ayers said, “all I have going for advertisement is the Facebook page ( and some business cards with the wrong phone number.”

Fisher, however, was more active in advertising in the beginning of his business, going door-to-door with flyers advertising his lawn care services.

Fisher said his biggest challenge was finding people to hire who would do good work.

Drummond said a flexible schedule is a benefit of running his own business. Ayers also said he liked the ability to set his own schedule.

“If you’re doing something you love then it doesn’t even feel like it’s a business,” Ayers said.

School still remains a priority, even with the businesses. Ayers said that he’s had to cancel paid shoots to work on a project for a weekend.

Drummond isn’t sure if he is going to continue working on iPhones or developing apps after graduation, but he said he wouldn’t mind it if he did the development for a living.

Ayers does plan to continue his business after graduation.

“It will definitely be a side project that I’d keep,” he said.

Fisher sold his business to a sophomore in high school this year, but didn’t rule out the possibility of picking it up again someday.

“Some people want to retire and open up a coffee shop,” he said. “I think I might retire and open up a lawn care business.”

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