Everyone has heard the saying, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”. And like many people, you may have dreamed of creating a job for yourself where you could follow your passion and enjoy your work instead of just getting through the day. If you have a hobby that can be monetized – whether it’s quilting, painting, photography, cooking, growing vegetables or raising chickens for eggs – you can turn it into a business that provides an extra income or even sustains your household.
If you’re thinking along these lines, the first step is to make sure that you do your homework. Begin with a realistic assessment of your proposed business, to determine if there is a market for it. Ask yourself if you would still love your hobby if it became work, with all the investments and logistical and financial challenges that it involves. Once you can be sure of the marketability of your products or services, you need to invest some time into drawing up a business plan and doing the necessary paperwork.
And finally, before the big launch, you need to learn all you can about marketing, because that’s crucial to ensuring the success of your business. Creating your brand, with a distinctive name, tag line and logo will help to set you apart from the competition and create a lasting link with your customers.
Research the market
Your skills in photography or baking cookies may be appreciated by all those who know you, but if you want to use them professionally to set up your own business, you will have to do some market research first. This will tell you if there is a larger market for your products. Your research will need to look at the industry, current trends, competition, and customers, as well as how to organize and operate your business.
This may seem like a tedious step if you’re starting small, but the effort you put in now will help you in developing a business plan later on. You can use market research tools like surveys, face-to-face interviews, and focus groups, and also look at sources like trade publications, competitors’ websites and government publications to decide if your proposed business is viable.
Test the waters
When starting a new business, it’s not a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket. Before you invest a good chunk of time and money, do an informal test drive. Try out your recipes on your friends and neighbors, take your craft items and jewelry to a seasonal market, or sell a few items online. Give away free samples and ask for feedback. This will also help you to refine your product and delivery processes. Once you’re sure you can handle all that it takes, move on to formalize your new business.
Write your business plan
When you’re ready to take the plunge it’s a good idea to have a business plan. A business plan can be a very simple document that lays out your goals and shows you how to get there from where you are at the present time. This will help you plan and focus your efforts as you launch your business. If you need to apply for a bank loan or any other kind of investment, you will need a more formal business plan, and all the hard work you did for the market research will pay off.
A good business plan will have a profile of your business, the financials, the customers and your marketing strategy. It’s also a good idea to include an assessment of possible obstacles and how you will negotiate these. Of course, no plans are ever written in stone, and you will have to modify your business plan as you go along and learn more about the details and challenges of running your business.
Do the paperwork
Once you can show that your hobby is a business, you can claim business tax deductions. That’s an excellent reason to register your business, whether you decide to be a sole proprietor or LLC. A sole proprietorship is a simpler structure but registering your business as a limited liability company (LLC) or incorporating it will keep your personal assets safe in case of business losses.
When choosing a name for your business, keep in mind that you will be using it for marketing as well. You will also need to apply for an Employment Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS and open a separate business bank account. Next, you’ll need to find out if you need any licenses and permits, and how to obtain these. The administrative necessities can seem intimidating but you can get a lot of help and advice from state and local bodies set up to help small businesses.
Master the art of marketing
Ultimately the success of your business depends on your ability to market your products or services. This will allow your business to grow and flourish. While your early customers may be your family and friends, you will need to expand beyond that circle to succeed. The essence of marketing is to identify your customers and how to reach them. To do this you must create your unique brand identity.
Creating your brand is central to marketing. Your brand is how your customers see you, and you should put some effort into thinking about your name and tag line. You’ll need a logo for your business, and the next section looks at how to create a logo that’s striking and memorable. Once you have your logo and brand, it’s time to take the show on the road. The internet is one of the best ways to connect with customers, and you should build an effective online presence with a website and active social media accounts.
Get a memorable logo design
Your logo is the first impression that potential customers will have of your business, so you need to put some thought into its design. A logo is a visual representation of your business, combining images, text, and your business name to convey information about your products, values and vision. You can design your logo yourself using online logo makers, or hire a professional designer.
Online logo makers are simple to use even if you don’t have any training or skills in art and design. You can use them to create a professional logo design in very little time and at lower costs than hiring a professional designer. This makes them a good choice for small businesses with limited time and a limited budget. Another alternative is to run a logo contest, which will give you hundreds of designs from professional designers to choose from.
Turning your hobby into a business puts you on the road to making a living doing what you love best. Monetizing your skills takes some effort, and it’s a good idea to have a road map before you start, even though your path will inevitably take some unpredictable turns. Beside developing your products, a focus on marketing is essential for success. Creating your brand, with a recognizable name and logo, will help to connect you with the customers you need to establish and grow your business. We wish you the best of luck on your journey!