There are numerous stories about young professionals turning their hobbies into successful businesses with the sheer power of vision and dedication. Turning a hobby into a business is not a new phenomenon, it’s been around for quite some time, yet it’s not a very easy thing to do. The simple fact that a hobby is something we pursue in our leisure time, to take a break from work, makes its transformation into a commercial activity contradictory to the purpose it serves in our lives. Yet there are people who love their hobbies enough to want to occupy themselves with it full-time and this is where the ambition of making it a business comes. When you love doing something and are good at it, turning it into a business can make the entire activity extremely satisfying. If you’re someone who has passion for a particular skill and wants to earn money through it, then read on:
Love What You Do
The difference between a hobby and a business is that a hobby is something we do in our free time, as a leisure activity without any profit making motive in it. On the other hand, a business is done with a significant profit angle, where we look to gain money by establishing ourselves as a proper, even legal entity and sell our goods and services to consumers. The thing about turning a non-economic activity into an economic activity, is that at one level you need to intensely love what you do. Because a particular activity is your hobby, you might think that transforming it into a business will be easy, but that isn’t always so. You need to evaluate your real interest in the hobby, and whether this interest will sustain long enough to make your business profitable. If you think you will continue to show the same or even more interest in your hobby once it becomes a commercial enterprise, then go for it. Always be sure that the hobby captures your imagination enough to be worth the money you plan to spend on it. A lot of people have found themselves losing the joy they had for an activity once it became a full time occupation because they weren’t ready to make it one.
Identify a Market
Once you decide to turn your hobby into a business, it’s essential to identify a target audience, and a market for your goods or services. For example, if jewellery making is your hobby and you want to turn it into a business then you must identify your potential customers. What sort of jewellery do you make? Is it geared more towards the taste of young men and women? Does it have a modern touch to it? Do you create unusual styles in your pieces? In this case your audience is identified. However, there are numerous competitors who have already established themselves in the same field, hence you need to evaluate whether your product comes upto the mark of their products and how you can perhaps stand out in terms of quality and prices. It’s also a good idea to start thinking about where and how you can sell your products in the respective market. Make sure you do enough research about your market before you start a business to make the most of your startup resources and capital.
A business cannot be a one-man or one-woman show. Doing a business involves a significant division of labor and responsibility, as well as multiple areas to be taken care of, which cannot be handled by one person alone. Which is why it is necessary to start involving people in your enterprise. This needn’t be a group of experts, the best people to involve in a startup are your friends and family. Let them know about your ideas and ambitions with regard to the business, and if you and your friends have interest in the same hobby, you can even consider turning it into a business together. Along with involving people close to you, consider teaching people your skills – such as oil painting, or photography, or jewellery making. Teaching the skill you have chosen as a hobby is an excellent way to earn money while continuing your passion and even spreading it among others. This is yet another way of involving people in what you do, and more importantly how you do it. Whatever sets you apart from others doing the same hobby, is what defines your style of business or teaching. Consequently, people who you have involved in your hobby can become partners in a business as it expands. You can consider hiring some people for a test project to test the waters for your business.
Run a Test Project
Testing the waters is never a bad idea. Devise a plan for a test project with a sample audience to test the interest your product generates and how much business you can expect to get. You can even consider starting your business as a part time enterprise while still continuing your current job. Starting a business part time will give you can idea of the effort and time it will take to keep the business going and earn a decent profit as well. However make sure you approach a part time business with the same determination and deliver the same quality of service to customers as you would in a full time business. A test project must be evaluative and helpful for your business, not a deterrent. If you find yourself unable to carry out a test project for less than half the stipulated time period you planned it for, then stop and reconsider.
Create a Business Plan
If your test project goes well, and you find yourself increasingly immersed in your part time enterprise, then it’s time you create a proper business plan to take the idea forward. It’s all good to want turn a hobby into a business and have successful test project as a key motivating factor as well, but when it comes to business in full throttle, it’s an all new ball game. To make a business out of a hobby, you need to look at not only how you can earn and make profit out of the skills, but also how others can benefit from your enterprise. Make a list of ideas you have in mind, and start working with a friend or family member on a plan. How do you want to start marketing your products? How will you distribute them? How do you plan o fund the initial expenditures and where do you plan to look for funding? Do you want a brick and mortar store or do you plan to operate online? All these questions are worth considering. Rest assured, business has no age and you can be as young as a school or college student or a retired professional to turn your hobby into a business. It’s all about a lot of love for the hobby, a common business sense to start with and plenty of will power as well as patience.
Have Experience on Board
A mentor is not always a pre-requisite, but he/she can be a source of constant inspiration and help whenever you need it. Having experience on board in the form of a person who has done some form of business before – be it a parent, or a friend’s parent – is a great plus. If you don’t know anybody whom you can consult regarding business questions and decisions, then ask around. You’re bound to find somebody who knows a person closely related to the working of business because of the sheer number of people who are engaged in business activities in the world today. However, even if you do find someone whom you’d like to make your mentor, ask them if they’re ready to help you and accept their decision with a smile. Don’t be disheartened if one or two persons do not believe in your ideas and philosophy as much as you do, the important thing is to keep looking for a person who can provide the necessary working knowledge and guidance to you with the commitment of being a mentor to you as your business grows.
When it comes to starting a business, capital is everything. You need to be absolutely clear about the amount of money you have for initial investments and how much working capital you will need in the months to come to get the business smoothly running. All this should ideally be figured out along with your business plan and according to the figures you should start raising money and looking for additonal funding. If you have a job currently, then save up as much money as you can for your business and start looking for donations from third parties. There are a lot of organizations which give seed money to startups depending on how powerful their business model is and you must aim for a strength and substance as the guiding principles of your business. You can even look for funding options online on websites such as www.gofundme.com . This websites is an excellent example of how useful the internet can be for new businesses. You can even consider loans, but as they always say, borrow only as much as you can repay. When it comes to the financial aspects of a business, you can even establish yourself as a legal identity once your business starts to grow, into a corporation or LLC (Limited Liability Company) – a business which is it’s own legal entity and the owner is not personally responsible for the LLC’s debts and other liabilities. Consult a legal authority in this matter and take decisions after due consideration and knowledge.
The best way to spread the message about your new business and put it out there for people is to develop a strong online presence. The world wide web is an extremely powerful tool of communication in today’s world, and the million connections we make through the web can be used effectively to do a business as well. The easiest way to begin is to create a Facebook page and start sharing it with friends. This can be followed by creating a website for your business where you can give all necessary information about your business and what you have to offer to a consumer. Use other websites such as LinkedIn to connect with business people around the world and use social networking to your advantage. Most people who run small businesses along with their regular jobs even rely on blogs to reach out to people. Blogs are easier to make than a full-fledged, professional looking website and serve the purpose more or less. They also save money and are already embedded in a larger network of the blogging platform which provides viewers. You can of course opt for your own domain name and use platforms such as WordPress.com to make a website.
Find a Physical Space
To make your business feel more real, to take it out of the realm of a hobby and to truly transform it into an enterprise you must work to find a physical space for your business. This needn’t be a proper office space, it could even be a spare room in your house which you can dedicate for your business work. As your business grows, you can expand and go for a bigger space, but in the beginning even a small home office suffices. The function of this space is to give you and your team a working environment which is dedicated only to the business. The atmosphere of a dedicated space makes the whole business more real. Some of the other steps you must take is to set up a bookeeping system to log your business’ income and expenses, employee salaries etc., a business checking account for your money and perhaps a credit card on the business account. Like we mentioned earlier, establishing your business as a legal entity is also worth considering over a course of time. The more real your business feels to you, the more involved and productive you will be.