Do you get the feeling you’re destined for something greater? Then it could be time to turn pro.
Nearly 33% of workers in the US are self-employed. And many are independent entrepreneurs turning their passions into business projects. The power of the internet has empowered a new generation of people to find advice, tools, and platforms to launch their own business.
But starting a business from a hobby isn’t always easy. Here’s how to build a business from your passion, step by step.
Before you even start down the road, you need to ask yourself the million dollar question: “Would I enjoy this if it were my job?”.
The truth is, there’s a world of difference between doing something out of passion and doing it as a job. That’s not to say the two never overlap, but when you work at your hobby full time, it can quickly lose its luster. Inspiration will only carry you so far.
If you know you can force yourself to work at your hobby even when you aren’t feeling it, then you may have already found the right mindset. If you still prefer to dabble, you may need to re-evaluate your ability to make the leap.
Set Your Goals
When you build a business, you need goals in mind.
If you’re making a business from a hobby, your business goals might not resemble the goals of a mega-corp. If you’re more interested in helping a community than maximizing profit, for instance, then keeping the job enjoyable may beat out stress-inducing growth.
This isn’t a dichotomy, as business exist everywhere on the spectrum between passion projects, growth-focused, and profit-oriented. Figure out what’s important to you before you get started.
Research the Industry
If you’ve only ever worked at your hobby out of passion, then you may not know much about the larger ecosystem in play when transitioning to a business.
For instance, you’ll need to get an idea of what people are willing to pay for your product, what overheads will go into your business, and what kind of competition is out there — along with the methods your competitors are using to market and sell.
This all demands a lot of research, of the kind you don’t have to worry about when working on a passion project.
Develop a Business Plan
A business can live or die by the integrity of its business plan. This is where you’ll get to the nitty-gritty of exactly what you’ll do and how you’ll execute it.
A lot of work goes into a good business plan, as you’ll need to capture the structure of your business, your expected sales and profits, and identify the challenges you’re likely to encounter.
A strong business plan will, in effect, front-load the problems of your business into the planning phase, reducing the issues you’ll encounter later on. A business plan can also be a useful tool for securing any financial support you may need to launch your business.
And a Backup Plan
Of course, things may not turn out the way you want them to. There’s a vast gulf between a hobby and building your own business. It’s not insurmountable, but success is far from guaranteed.
That means you’ll need a backup plan if things fall through. The simplest backup plan takes the form of some classic advice: don’t quit your day job. But a financial cushion or a strong support network can also help you recover from a business endeavor gone awry.
It’s vital to be realistic about your situation and to track what you’re putting into your business so your costs don’t run away with you.
Form a Brand
One of the stranger aspects of the hobby vs job equation is the way your passion will transition into an entity of its own. Branding is part of that transition, moving the core of your hobby away from you as a person.
When you turn a hobby into a business, you have two primary options for branding. You can simply operate under your name and use your identity as your brand, or you can come up with a business-specific brand.
The former is useful if your business will remain a one-man band. When customers see you as a person rather than a business, they can be more willing to support you.
The latter may be preferable if you’re planning to open something like a store, with employees and a business identity separate from your own.
Break Into Marketing
If you struggle to promote what you create even to your friends and family, then it’s time to discard all shame.
Frankly, a business can only survive through self-promotion. And once you become a business, most of the social rules around boasting need to disappear. A successful business shouts how great it is from the rooftops.
Once you enter the wide world of marketing, you’ll find out how fraught it can be. You’ll need to invest more of that pesky research into finding promotional strategies that work for your brand and put your product in front of the people who need to see it.
Discoverability remains a big problem for small businesses, even with the power of the internet. Expect to hit several failures in marketing before you find success.
Track Your Success
One key difference between a hobby and a business lies in the way you track success. With a hobby, your metric for success usually begins and ends with whether you completed something.
In business, things get a lot more complicated. You’ll need to factor in overheads to know whether it was worth doing what you did. Finishing a project is no longer the condition for success.
That means you need robust ways not only of tracking income but also of tracking profit. Companies spend thousands on analytics tools. While it will be simpler for a small business, that should give you some idea of how complex tracking success can be.
How to Build a Business Explained
By now, you should have a good idea of how to build a business from your hobby. The path won’t be easy, but building an operation from the ground up doing something you love can carry huge rewards.
Reading to begin your journey? You can start here.
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