According to the Wall Street Journal, enterprising Americans are starting their own businesses at record speed, with over 3.2 million new businesses registered in 2020. Many of these businesses have developed out of hobbies – and it’s entirely possible, in a lot of cases, to shake things up a bit and turn something you love into a money-making career. So how do you know if moving on from unpaid enjoyment to well-paid work is an idea that makes sense for your own hobby, and what are some of the must-do tasks to carry out before you move forwards?
Due diligence pays off
Before you dive straight in, make sure you’ve done your research – identify which specific areas of your hobby you want to turn into a business, which of these you excel at, and which may need further work. Consider whether they are reasonably likely to result in profit, and if you need formal training to progress, factor that in too. Take starting a photography business, for example – you will need to think about narrowing down to a specific niche, the skills and props you’ll need to invest in, and what area you will be working in – different locations offer different opportunities. Undertaking effective research will help you to assess and understand any risks, and think about how you might mitigate these – and to identify the right time to launch your business once you’ve figured out all the timescales involved.
Financing the change
Businesses always need a bit of money in order to get going, and start-up costs can be significant – especially if you want to dive straight in instead of gradually ramping up your work as a side hustle. Investigate the market demand for the products or services you plan to offer, check out local and online rivals, and verify that you’ll be able to make a living from what you propose to do. Fully understanding the financial feasibility of your hobby-to-career project will help you plan how much you’ll need to invest to make your dreams a reality, and how long it’ll take you to actually make a living once you begin trading.
Know your niche
What can you offer that will set you apart from the competition? Take some time to identify the potential audience for your wares, and think about what might make your own business appeal to them more than others. Offering initial customers the opportunity to try before they buy can support you to generate some custom and reviews early on, which will be hugely beneficial when you begin trading more seriously – and it provides a great opportunity to assess and tweak the way you are trading in order to provide an excellent service once you feel ready to enter the mass market.
Knowing your audience can also help you figure out how best to market and promote yourself – even without a big investment, it’s possible to advertise effectively using technology you already have. Create a compelling online presence that really sells your stuff, and identify relevant keywords, hashtags and search engine optimization techniques to improve your visibility before you get started. Sponsored social media posts can allow you to target your ideal customer base, and are very reasonably priced compared with other promotional options; email marketing systems can be very effective too.
Getting going with turning a hobby into a business can be exciting and stressful all at the same time. By making sure you do as much research and planning as you can, you’ll tip the scales to favor the enjoyment aspect, and ensure you have a robust, reliable business that will thrive and grow, letting you love the work you do for years to come.