Do you have a creative hobby that you love to do in your spare time but have never been paid for? Perhaps you are a great photographer, or you have a talent for making short films. Maybe you make unique cushion covers that visitors always comment on. Some of you may also make products and provide services without charge to your friends and family but would like to see if you can be paid for those same products and services.
Well here are some tips to help you to begin the process of turning your hobby into a business.
Start a side project
This is an important place to start because you might be so confident in your offering that you decide to dive in head first without any real evidence that you have a viable business. You may discover that although you are great at making plasticine figurines, nobody wants to pay you for them! (By the way, this is not a fact backed up by research so all the plasticine figurine making community, keep doing what you do!)
It is better to start finding out if your hobby can be turned into a business by beginning it as a side project. This way you have less risk if it does not turn out to a viable concept. You can also save some money, which you will need if you do decide to make your side gig your full time business.
Another benefit of starting your business on the side is that you may decide that you prefer your hobby to stay exactly that, a hobby! You may not enjoy sharing your hobby with customers who will ultimately have some influence over what you provide. This is a real consideration and starting your business as a side project will reveal that to you.
Research your market and decide if you have enough potential customers
Market research is a crucial element in turning your hobby into a business. You need to know if there are enough people that will buy your product or service. Do they need or want what you are offering? There are many ways to carry out market research which I will go into in depth in another article. For now though, start thinking about the types of primary research, for example interviews, questionnaires and surveys that you can carry out and the forms of secondary research (the research efforts of other individuals or organisations) that you can learn from.
Learn from your competitors
Be aware and up to date with what is already being offered in the market. If you want to produce ceramics to sell, research what your competitors are offering and recognise the similarities and differences in your products. If you are going to sell to the same customers, consider why that customer would purchase your ceramic products instead of your competitors. Understand your competitors’ strengths and think about how you can improve on their offering. Also look at how they are reaching their customers. Do they use a method that you may not have thought of? Know and understand your competition but remember to keep your own identity.
Seek opportunities to promote your business
Your business needs a chance to grow and you need to create opportunities to reach potential customers. There are many ways that you can promote your business such as having an internet presence, attending networking events, displaying at business conferences, selling at markets, giving talks about a particular subject area that is linked to your business and so on. Be confident in sharing your business with others and making them aware of what you do and be creative in the ways that you try to reach potential customers.
Listen to your audience and prepare to adapt
The best way that you can get honest feedback on your product or service is by listening to your customers and potential customers. Give your customers an opportunity to leave you feedback and be prepared to hear both positive and negative comments. No matter what the response, it can help towards the growth of your offering. Perhaps your customers say that they want your products to have a different finish, maybe your payment methods are too time consuming, and perhaps your website is not user friendly. Sometimes customers may want you to add other elements to your product or service because they are so impressed with your current offering. Whatever the feedback is, make sure that you give your audience an opportunity to respond and make sure that you act on that feedback.
I hope that these tips have motivated you in taking the first step in turning your hobby into a business. Please let me know what hobbies you would love to be paid for and the support that you need to begin on this journey.