10 Tips To Turn Your Hobby Into A Business

10 Tips To Turn Your Hobby Into A Business

by Jane Haskins, Esq., February 2017

Whether it's a lazy day of fishing or an afternoon of baking, our hobbies bring us joy and rejuvenate us after a long work week. It's only natural to daydream about turning a hobby into a full-time business, but to create a successful business, you need more than just skills and passion. Building a sustainable business takes planning, commitment, and a business attitude.

Here are some tips on how to get started.

1. Know Your Goal.

Do you want a full-time business so you can quit your day job? Or are you just looking for a little extra cash to cover expenses? The more you'll depend on the income from your hobby-business, the harder you'll need to work at it.

2. Brainstorm all the ways you could make money from your hobby.

You may need to do more than one thing to create a financially sustainable business. For example, if you're a quilter, you could sell your quilts, but you also could teach quilting classes, open a quilting shop, or design and sell quilting patterns.

3. Be sure you'll still enjoy your hobby if you're doing it for money.

Making money from your hobby may mean meeting deadlines, pleasing demanding customers, and doing your hobby even on days when you don't feel like it. You'll have to manage marketing and finances. Be sure you're willing to juggle all these balls before you turn your hobby into a business.

4. Get really good at what you do — before you quit your job.

To make money from your hobby, you've got to be good at it. If your skills aren't yet up to par, make a plan for improving them and put off your business idea until you're ready.

5. Write a business plan.

When you write a business plan, you'll evaluate the market for your hobby-business and prove to yourself that it's a viable business idea. You'll learn how much money you need to get started, you'll set goals, and you'll plan how you'll market the business to your customers.

6. Adopt a business mindset.

A hobby is something you do at your leisure. When you make it a business, you must show up to work. Think of your hobby as your second job and make it a priority in your life.

7. Learn about marketing.

You can be the best in the world at what you do, but if you don't market your business, you'll never get customers. Read up on small business marketing and observe how similar businesses promote themselves. Set up a website for your new business and get comfortable using social media. Start making connections online and in your community.

8. Create a brand and stick to it.

Your brand is your business identity and what you'll be known for. A strong brand helps your loyal customers recognize you, just as people instantly know that golden arches mean McDonald's. Decide on a business name, logo, font, and/or color scheme that reflect your business's “personality" and use them consistently in your website, social media, and other marketing.

9. Get your first customer — even if you have to work for free.

Your first customer will give you confidence in your business idea and will make it psychologically easier to market yourself. If necessary, do your first job for free in exchange for a nice review or testimonial.

10. Put your finances in order.

You must report your business income and expenses on your tax return and pay quarterly estimated taxes. You may also be required to collect sales tax. The easiest way to keep your business finances straight is to set up a bank account for your business, to keep business and personal finances separate. Meeting with an accountant and investing in accounting software can help you started on the right foot.