Starting a business isn’t for everyone: how many times have you thought (or heard) something like that? Sometimes it’s pure gatekeeping, but more often than not it’s an expression of a belief that most people lack the dedication, endurance or initiative to go into business for themselves. It isn’t wholly unreasonable, too: the fact of the matter is that most people will never try it.
Times change, though, and we do our best to adapt — and in light of the lockdown protocols put into place to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, people everywhere are considering things that didn’t previously interest them. Some have lost their jobs, or been furloughed with no clear indication of when they’ll be able to get back to work, while others have been left with more free time than they know how to use and a general sense of anxiety about what the future holds.
Regardless of the exact cause, there are currently a lot of people out there who are seriously interested in starting their own businesses — and the typical course is taking a hobby and building on it. Here are five steps for turning a hobby into a home business:
Confirm That There’s A Market
You might have a hobby that you really enjoy and are very good at, but there’s no guarantee that there’s a market for doing it professionally. Before you put any more time into the project, you must check to see if your business idea is actually viable, which means doing online research to look for comparable companies and relevant consumer searches.
Let’s say you really liked writing poetry, for instance, and wanted to launch a business for writing custom poetry. It’s an interesting idea, but is it financially justifiable? You don’t just need people interested in getting custom poems: you also need them to be willing to pay for them, and pay enough to make it worth your time.
If you’re really unsure, reach out to relevant people on social media and ask them what they’d pay for whatever it is you intend to offer. If the money is there, proceed. If it isn’t, go back to the drawing board and think about what else you could do.
Build Your Business Website
Since the cost of keeping a website live isn’t exorbitant, it’s best to get something in place as soon as you’re sure that you want to pursue your business: that way you can have a bigger selection of domains (there are fewer available every day) and start building up credibility with search engines (Google doesn’t like linking to really new domains).
(Note: you will need your business name before you do this, because it should play a big role in determining the domain you choose, but that should suffice. Everything else comes next.)
How you should do this depends on the type of business you’re building. I suggest using some kind of site-design wizard to save time, money and effort. Why not give Wavoto a try?
It has a fantastic click-and-drag design process, and you can even use ecommerce if you pick either the Entrepreneur plan or the Professional plan.
Create Your Brand Elements
Aside from your company name, your brand will be empty at this point, so you need to start fleshing it out. A decent modern brand needs a high-quality logo, a slogan (or set of slogans), a mission statement, a color scheme, and a signature tone (serious, wacky, frivolous, sarcastic: almost anything can work, it just depends on the target audience).
I suggest using some kind of template for brand guidelines
. There are paid services that make it optimally easy to design complete brands, but if you don’t want to pay for something like that then you certainly don’t need to. You can get along fine with templates, particularly if you also make use of tools like Photoshop or Sketch.
Branding is so important because it’s hard to stand out otherwise. Modern businesses often have tight profit margins, so they can’t necessarily offer the best prices, and use generic product ranges (often dropshipped through popular marketplaces like AliExpress
) so they can’t stand out through quality. Attaching a strong brand to a product listing makes all the difference.
Set A Clear Budget And Timeframe
How much money do you intend to put into your home business, and how long are you going to give it to demonstrate its viability? These are things you need to figure out now so your project can’t get out of control down the line. If you don’t set a specific budget, you can fall into the trap of consistently topping up the funds in the hope that things will turn around — like a gambler who thinks that the next coin is sure to win the jackpot
and get all their money back.
As for time, well, knowing that a business concept has a market doesn’t guarantee that your business in particular can be successful. Maybe you don’t have anything special to offer relative to the competition. If things aren’t going to work, you need to know when to cut your losses and move on, so you might give yourself six months to pick up some momentum.
If you haven’t achieved any profit (or even any meaningful revenue) within six months, stop what you’re doing and seriously think about where you want to go next. If you do choose to continue, then at least you’ll be fully aware of the situation.
Win (And Impress) Your First Clients
Getting your first clients is perhaps the hardest part of starting a business. Once you’re up and running with some glowing endorsements to back you up, you can pitch very confidently to prospective clients, but you’re likely to be exceedingly nervous trying to convince people to give your unproven business a chance.
Do whatever you think will help here, and don’t be too proud to ask people you know for help. See if any of your friends or family members have acquaintances who might give you a shot. You can charge a minimal rate, or even work for free: the point of the process is to prove (to others and to yourself) that you can do a great job, not to make money.
And when you secure some opportunities, you have three objectives: do fantastic work, convince the clients to keep working with you at a standard rate, and get strong reviews
from those clients so you can have an easier time winning clients in the future. Once you have some wind in your sails, you’ll be on your way to success.
Turning a hobby into a real business isn’t easy, but now that we’re all stuck at home in confusing times, it’s a great time to give it a chance. Following these steps won’t assure you success, but they’ll point you in the right direction and give you a great chance to prove what you’re capable of. Good luck.