As schools all across the valley open their doors to welcome in students fresh from the summer, opportunities arise for parents to start anew as well. Now that the school year has started and you’re able to settle back into your routine, it’s time to consider how you want to occupy yourself until June.
Why not take that hobby of yours and turn it into a sustainable business?
With the advent of the internet, small at-home businesses are able to reach a global market, making it possible for anyone to use available technology to launch their businesses and keep them going. People are able to hone their craft and then sell the fruits of their labor all over the world via the internet, using sites like Etsy and Amazon Marketplace. By considering the thing you’re passionate about in context with what the market is demanding, you can run a viable business based on doing the thing you already love.
So, what do you need to consider before starting up?
Finding a Niche
Maybe you’re an amazing woodworker or your candle-making skills are top-notch. Maybe you love embroidery or painting, or maybe your dream is to become a graphic designer. Regardless of your hobby, it’s important to identify a niche within that field. There could be thousands of people who sell candles online, each of them competing with big names like Bath and Body Works or Yankee Candle. How do you stand out among the crowd?
Finding a niche can set you apart from your competition from the get-go. Sure, there are other people who make candles in mason jars, but do theirs smell like books or fresh cherries? Are theirs made from sustainable wax or delivered with a booklet about the candle-making process? Are theirs shipped in biodegradable packaging? If there are unique facets of your business that you can promote successfully, you’ll be able to claim that niche for yourself and stand out automatically.
Time is Money
Another major factor you need to consider before turning your avocation into a vocation is the costs associated with such a big change. Can or will you have to quit your full-time job to pursue this new business? How much money do you spend on supplies to build the object you’d like to sell? If your passions are technical or digital, then how much money per hour could you make performing your skills? You’ll need to create a budget for yourself and stick to a well-researched financial plan.
If you’re able to ramp up productivity before quitting your full-time job, you’ll be able to get a feel for your hobby as a business. Set aside a few hours in the evening or on a weekend morning and try to establish a client base. Do research into how you can become an expert in your field before even entering it completely. This way, you’ll be better prepared for the switch when you do finally make the full transition.
Building a business takes time, and for some people a slower dip into the pool makes more financial sense than a cannonball.
If you won’t be relocating your hobby to a physical storefront, it’s especially important that you build an online presence for your new company. This can be as simple as creating just one Etsy landing page and promoting yourself there, but “more than 50 percent of small businesses agree social media helps them increase sales,” according to Steve Olenski from Forbes. The traffic that comes through your social accounts will likely be a large contributor to your customer base, so it’s extremely important that you market yourself accordingly wherever you can.
Luckily, nowadays it’s incredibly easy to partner with marketing experts online. Websites like Upwork, Toptal, and Guru are a great starting point for new business owners looking for branding help. Hire an artist to come up with a logo and use it on your packaging materials and website. Hire a content editor to go through your website with you. Hire a programmer to build a website in the first place! With so many freelancers all over the world who are experts in their fields, you can get branding help from everywhere.
A Business Address
If you are indeed working from home, now is a good time to consider renting an office or getting a membership in a coworking space. Coworking spaces are shared workplaces that people use for a variety of reasons. Some are new business owners who, like you, need a space to meet with clients that isn’t their garage. Some need a place to go for a few hours to video chat a client, and some just enjoy the sense of community that’s fostered by places that encourage coworking practices.
By renting an office space, you’ll be able to register your business with a proper business address, one that’s separate from your home and fully dedicated to the hobby that you’re capitalizing on. You don’t need to sort through personal bills and endless grocery store advertisements to get to the business mail. The better organized you are, the more you’ll feel like a real business.
So what are you waiting for? Drop the kids off at school or wave goodbye to the school bus. It’s time to make some candles!
Written by: Hannah Isaac
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