This holiday season I decided to make personal gifts for a few of my friends and family members so I knitted them winter scarves. I’ve been knitting since I was a child. It’s a fun hobby and an excellent stress reliever. My scarves were a big hit and it was suggested that I start selling them online or placing them on consignment in boutiques.
Now I love making money and I’m always looking for new sources of revenue. But I’m also a small business expert, so I know what constitutes a genuine business opportunity and what doesn’t. Turning my hobby into a business venture isn’t a smart idea. Allow me to explain.
1. Full-Time Commitment
Many people today are finding joy in turning their hobbies into a full-time business. The most important step if you’re considering turning your hobby into a business is to make sure you’re ready to make it a full-time effort. Some people try to run a full-time business on a part-time schedule, and that’s not going to cut it. You must devote 100 percent of your time and energy to your business venture in order to build success. I already have two businesses that occupy my time. I’m not in a position to make a full-time commitment to a third.
2. Personal Satisfaction
Another important factor to consider before you transition your hobby into a full-time business is your enjoyment level. If your hobby becomes your job, will it cease to be a pleasure? It’s common for people to burn-out on the hobby that once provide much enjoyment. Think about it this way. Have you ever eaten a certain food, over and over again and then suddenly found you didn’t want it or particularly care for it anymore? Sometimes too much of a good thing can ruin the experience. Personally, knitting is a release for me. I don’t want to “have” to do it.
3. Where’s the Beef?
Can you truly make money from you hobby to justify a full-time effort? Do some market research and determine how much you could charge for your product. Is it enough to make it worthwhile? Consider my scarves. If I knitted 40-60 hours per week, most likely I could only knit 4-6 scarves. I’d have to charge a lot of money for each scarf to make it a viable venture for me, and I doubt a consumer would be willing to pay such a high price.
4. Organize Using Professionals
In addition to being ready to devote the time it takes to build your business, you should also make sure you set it up appropriately. It’s important to get the professional advice you need. Don’t hesitate to hire professionals such as lawyers and accountants. In other words, stop treating it like a hobby and start treating it like a business. Getting the right advice in the beginning can make a huge difference down the road.
5. Minimize Start-Up Costs
Its smart business to keep your initial start-up costs low. Familiarize yourself with inexpensive resources that can help you build your business professionally without breaking the bank. For example, there are website design and hosting options which allow you to create a jazzy website for a minimal cost.
6. Ask for Help
You don’t have all the answers; isolating yourself when you’re trying to build a business is risky. Get out and talk with other business owners and professionals. Don’t be shy. Ask questions and learn from other successful business owners. Most entrepreneurs are happy to share what they’ve learned on their journey.
7. Spread the Word
Build it and they will come. Nope! It doesn’t work that way with small businesses. You have to spread the word about your business venture. Learn how to leverage inexpensive marketing tools such as social media platforms, networking and email marketing.
Did you turn something you enjoy into a small business? Share your challenges and successes in comments.
Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning entrepreneur and journalist, author of three best-selling books, multi-media personality and contributor to ABC News and other outlets, public speaker and attorney. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.