You’ve heard the stories: the office manager quits her job and becomes a successful wedding cake decorator, or the talented dressmaker makes the leap and opens a hip downtown boutique. Transforming a hobby into a lucrative business may sound like an impossible dream, but thousands of people are getting paid for doing what they love by turning their passions into profitable enterprises.
Inside every hobby is a goldmine waiting to be discovered, but you must find your unique twist. Before you wave goodbye to your day job, check out these five steps to help you turn your hobby into a profitable business.
STEP 1: Research Your Market
You may love sewing unique garments, but will people spend the money on what you have to offer? The only way to find out is to start doing some market research. Find out what people, like your family and friends, are prepared to pay for your products or services, and whether it will be enough to make a profit. Scope out the competition. Who are they? What are they doing? And how well are they doing it? Is there anything you can adopt from them, or improve upon that would make you stand out?
STEP 2: Figure Out How You’re Going to Make Money!
Consider all your costs. Every business is different, but common startup costs include bookkeeping setup, logo and branding, business cards, computers, website costs, advertising, stationery, supplies, inventory, and possibly office space.
Then consider what you can charge. Will what you bring in cover what’s going out? If not, how will you finance your enterprise? Do your savings cover all the initial costs, can you use existing credit (like I did when I got started), or will you need to borrow? Can friends or family lend you the money, or will you need to turn to banks or investors?
STEP 3: Determine What Skills You Need
Entrepreneurs don’t succeed by passion for their products alone. Take inventory of your skills and be honest about your strengths and weaknesses when it comes running a business. Do you know how to market yourself, and to convince people to work with you above all others in the field? As an entrepreneur you are constantly selling your products, your vision, your company, and yourself. Are you ready to be this type of person?
If you’re lacking in any of these areas (and everyone has one or two things they’re just not that good at), then find out how you can strengthen those weaknesses. Can you work with a consultant, hire a contractor to take on those roles, or enlist a mentor?
STEP 4: Map Out Your Milestones
It’s good to have big ambitions, but give yourself a reasonable timeline to transform your hobby into a lucrative career. Keep your eye on the prize, and set specific and measurable deadlines.
Your initial timeline of milestones will include all the processes, tasks, and objectives to see your company safely to the launch pad and into its first year of business. These might include developing your product or assembling a portfolio, and setting a desired launch date. (Of course, don’t let any of this stop you from getting out there and making money right away if you can!)
STEP 5: Get the Word Out!
Now take a deep breath and launch your new enterprise. There are lots of ways to do this: You could announce your website, attend events, hand out business cards, pound the pavement, do a mailing, etc. There are a hundred different ways to get the word out and market yourself. Choose at least three to get started!© Copyright 2011 Ali Brown