Turning your hobby into a business can be a life-changing and rewarding experience. Being paid to do what you love may seem like a no-brainer. However, starting your own business will be hard work, and you won’t have the security of a guaranteed steady paycheck from an employer. Whether you decide to throw caution to the wind and make your hobby your career or ease into it slowly, it’s important to consider a few key items.
- Be realistic: Yes, you love making soy soaps and beeswax candles for your friends, but is it a viable business? Is there a market for a $25 vanilla candle? Can you turn a profit? Can you live off your savings until your business takes off? What about things like health insurance and retirement?
- Be really realistic: You may be willing to make 100 bars of soap per week for fun, but what about when you need to make and sell 600 per week to make money? Can you still enjoy your passion when you’re under the pressure of doing it full time?
- Don’t quit your day job: At least, don’t quit your day job right away. It’s important to get as much of the business up and running as you can while you still have a regular income. This will allow you a little more freedom when it comes to spending money on things like web design or initial inventory. By continuing to work a day job, you can also focus on saving to cover your costs before you start making money off your new business. You’ll have to put in a lot of hours, but a little added security in the beginning will make the transition easier.
- Get educated: Think about the types of skills needed to run a business such as financial planning, accounting, or public relations. Do you have a solid understanding of the necessary skills? If not, take a course at the local community college or sit down with a family friend who also happens to be a CPA. Knowing how to do things correctly the first time around will save you a lot of time and energy when it comes to tax time or getting the word out about your business.
- Set it up: Before you jump into the “fun” part of the business, make sure you have all the accounts and space necessary to get off to a good start. Designate a particular area of your house as an office — or rent space somewhere — and create a schedule. Giving yourself some structure will help you be successful.
- Create a solid business base: Create a business plan to help give you an idea of what needs to happen long term. Build a website and social media presence, and find the best way to market your product. Is it a craft that would do well on Etsy? Is there a professional association you could join to get your name out there? Is there a local store that might sell your jewelry on consignment? Check out conventions where you can buy a booth for the day to meet potential customers and sell your product.
At the end of the — very long — day, owning a business that allows you to follow your own passion can be the greatest thing you ever do for yourself. It’s important to have a solid support system (both financial and emotional) and also carefully follow a few steps to get your business off the ground. Yes, it will be challenging and there will be days where you miss the safety of your cube. But if you focus on the fact that you’re doing what everyone wishes they could do, chances are you’ll be happy you followed your dream.
About the Author: Tiana Tucker is an inbound marketer for, Nursing@Simmons, an online family nurse practitioner graduate program. Tiana enjoys feeding her healthy obsessions with digital media, design and travel in her spare time.