How to Turn a Hobby into a Business in 8 Steps (2022)

How to Turn a Hobby into a Business in 8 Steps (2022)

Tips for Turning Your Hobby into a Career

1. Start Small

There are plenty of reasons to begin earning money with your hobby before you try to make it into a career, but let's start with the most obvious: money. In order to get started, you'll need at least a few months of expenses saved up, independent of the startup costs associated with your business, to make sure that you'll have something to live on while you're getting things rolling.

Beginning your business while you're still working at your old job will also give you a better idea of whether there's an actual need for your product or service, and how much work goes into producing it, which will give you the information you need to work out the particulars of your finances down the road. (More on this in section No. 5.)

Although working two jobs can be exhausting and a juggling act, it's a good way to make sure that you'll still love your new career when you're doing your hobby for money, not love alone.

2. Make Connections

Social media has made it easier than ever to make connections with like-minded people, which is an incredible boon to a small businessperson. LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc., can help you virtually meet other people in your industry.

Just remember to proceed with caution: some people will be less than willing to offer business advice to a potential competitor. The best approach is to forge connections before you start asking specific questions. Now is not the time for a blanker form letter, asking strangers if you can pick their brains. The goal is to become part of a community, not mine the competition for ideas and run.

3. Do Market Research

Via your newfound online communities and real-life connections, get a rough idea of how much other businesses charge for the product or services you offer. Sometimes, this is as easy as looking at online marketplaces and seeing what people charge.

Get a sense of what the landscape is like, and how your business will fit into it. What do your competitors offer? What needs does your business fulfill that theirs doesn't? How do you differentiate yourself from your competition?

4. Make a Plan

A business plan is the least glamorous part of starting a new venture, but it can be essential, especially if you're thinking about looking for funding from outside sources. Even if you plan to run your business on your own savings, a business plan can help organize your thinking about your new adventure and expose any unforeseen problems.

5. Plan Your Finances

As part of your business plan, calculate your monthly expenses, projected income, and total startup costs, including any new equipment you might need, and costs like membership fees for professional associations, online marketplaces, or accountants or tax preparers.

You'll also need to plan on paying quarterly estimated taxes, including self-employment tax.

Eventually, you'll have to decide whether to remain a sole proprietor or to choose some other form of business organization, including limited liability company, S-corporation, and so on.

6. Get the Word Out

The internet makes it easier than ever to let people know that you're hanging out your shingle. In the olden days, you might have had to allocate a significant part of your budget to advertising and lead generation, but now you can get started simply by posting on your favorite networks and letting people know you're open for business.

Just remember that if you're still working at your day job, you might need to be discrete.

Make sure your company doesn’t have a policy against freelancing or working part-time, and that your business doesn’t rely on any trade secrets you’ve picked up from your job. If all those conditions are satisfied, think of a one-line description for what your business does, and share it with the world.

7. Reassess Your Goals

Even with careful planning, you won’t know what it will be like to run your own business until you do it for a while. So, it makes sense to reassess your goals at intervals to make sure that you’re on track.

Most likely, you’ll discover that your goals will change over time. You might find out that you love one aspect of your work more than others, for example, and decide to place more focus on that area. Or, you might learn that the market for your product is weaker than you expected, and change direction slightly to capture more business.

The best thing about working for yourself is that your job will evolve. Understand that, and you’ll be prepared to change tracks when necessary and succeed.

Key Takeaways Consider Turning Your Hobby Into a Side Gig First: Starting small enables you to learn what you like and don’t like about doing this kind of work. Find Out What the Market Will Bear: Do market research to find out how much you can charge for your products and services. Create a Business Plan: Calculate your expenses, including startup costs, and estimate potential income. Be a Good Community Member: Use social media to help you build a network with others in your new field – and don’t forget to give as much as you get from your new colleagues. 

5. Work with a Mentor

Business owners don’t have to go it alone. Find yourself a mentor when you start your company. There are numerous places where you can meet a mentor; at your local business meetings, through social or business events, or online.

A mentor has already been in your shoes, and they know what pitfalls lay ahead for you. Working with a mentor reduces your learning curve, allowing you to learn from their mistakes. The mentor identifies pitfalls where your business may suffer, and you get to avoid a setback that could last for years and nearly cost you your company.

Most successful business owners have a mentor, and they continue the relationship even after they experience success themselves. It’s a lifetime commitment, and you’ll become close colleagues and friends over the years.

However, some people may struggle to meet a mentor in the real world. Fortunately, the advent of the internet connects people all over the world. As a result of internet freedom, you can find thousands of mentors online that are willing to help. Look through business chatrooms and learn all you can from the members.

Some mentors even offer paid programs to teach you how to succeed in your niche. Spend some time reviewing mentorship programs to find a mentor with a style that’s suits your personality and business ethics.

Video

Your First 6 Months in Business: A To-Do List

Getting your business off the ground is an exciting journey, but it’s not without challenges. There are a lot of moving pieces, a lot of decisions need to be made and a lot of money needs to be spent. If you’re not ready, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. So much of getting your business running…

1. It All Starts with Desire

In the book, “Think and grow rich,” The author, Napoleon Hill, talks about the most important characteristic for entrepreneurs. The first chapter, entitled, “It all starts with desire,” shows the reader the importance of wanting to achieve your goal. When your heart fills with a burning desire to achieve your goal, the universe will move out of your way and give you what you want.

This book teaches entrepreneurs that the fight for survival in the business world comes from within. You need a sharp mind and plenty of mental fortitude to persist through the dark times in your company – and there will be dark times.

However, when you have a burning desire to achieve your goal, you’ll think about your situation harder. Those individuals that don’t have a vested interest in what their company produces are more likely to fold when they experience difficulties.

Follow your Passion
Follow your Passion

By building a desire to succeed with your business venture, your RAS will find opportunities to help you out of your current situation. The reticular activating system, (RAS), is the region of the brain that identifies patterns in your life.

For instance, have you ever bought a new car, and found that you start to see them everywhere on the road in the days after your purchase? That’s your RAS at work, focusing your attention on what you value.

The brain is a miraculous and complex organ, and we still don’t understand its full potential. However, by tapping into your desire, your mind finds a way to help you achieve what you want. You may start to experience eerie coincidences that benefit your company. The key takeaway here is that “what you think about, you bring about.”

Vincent Zurzolo, founder, Metropolis Collectibles, , Metropolis Gallery

Hobby: Comic book collecting

Background: “I loved comics since before I could even read,” Zurzolo said. “I remember looking at my big brothers’ collections and just being amazed and astonished by the colors, action and art. I started buying and selling when I was around 15 with a neighborhood friend.”

When Zurzolo graduated from college, he contemplated getting a marketing job, but was more excited by the prospect of buying and selling comics. He started small, selling comics on the streets of Manhattan and at conventions and through mail orders and private sales from his home office. “I steadily grew my business and moved up the ladder by continually bringing great books to the market,” he said. Today he runs three successful comic book businesses: Metropolis Collectibles, a vintage comic book dealership in Manhattan; ComicConnect.com, an online consignment and auction company; and Metropolis Gallery, an art gallery in Manhattan dedicated to comics and fantasy art.

Best Advice: “The most important thing to do in life is something that makes you happy,” he said. “Most people spend more time working than anything else except sleeping, so you might as well make it something you enjoy.”

Zurzolo said it’s also important to tune out negative comments that might come your way. “When I was in my twenties, I always got asked what my real job was and if I could really make a living doing this,” he said. “It put a chip on my shoulder, but I don’t get asked that question much anymore. There are so many ways to make money. I’ve seen people make a living selling all types of collectibles, from Pokémon cards to matchbox cars.”

How to find a hobby 

If you’re looking for new ways of filling your time, there are plenty of options to choose from. In fact, we’ve dedicated a whole article on how to find a new hobby. As the world slowly starts to return to normal, there will be more options than ever before when it comes to trying something new. 

Some considerations when looking for a hobby include: 

  • Are you looking for something more creative or active? 
  • Are you seeking escapism or tangible gains? 
  • Is there something you used to enjoy doing but haven’t had the time to keep up? 
  • Do you want your new hobby to be similar to existing ones? 

4) Write/speak about your passion:

If you’re passionate about something, then shout about it! Whether it be through the written word, or talking about it at events; believe it or not, you can actually get paid for merely sharing your passion and knowledge with others . The rise of blogging has made it easier than ever for people to become experts in their field and there are lots of opportunities for industry professionals to speak at events, so be proactive and put yourself out there! Once you have built a bit of status for yourself within the sector, it could well be turned into a career.

2. Be Persistent

For Jim and Mary Competti to turn their love of gardening and DIY into the successful Old World Garden Farms blog, website, and upcoming book, they had to work. Hard. “We worked a little every day to build the farm and create the website,” shares Mary.

“It’s okay to dream,” says Jim, “but that’s not enough—you have to take action on your dreams —every single day.”

So, how do you get started? According to the Compettis, the best way to learn persistence is by sticking to a schedule. “Be sure to work at some part of the business or hobby at least 15 minutes every day,” they advise. Now, of course, if you’re really trying to turn your hobby into a career, you’re eventually going to have to start ramping that daily time up. But 15 minutes a day is a great place to start.

3. Maximize your time

For many people, working a full-time job and then spending extra hours pursuing a hobby isn’t practical. Between kids, significant other, friends and social requirements, you simply don’t have enough hours in the day.

In the initial stages, you’ll have to get creative about how you use your time. Perhaps you need to wake up an hour earlier than you’re used to and get some stuff done before your regular job.

Alternatively, it could mean involving your kids in your hobby so you can spend time with them while still accomplishing new things.

4. Be honest with yourself

Determine if you’re willing to make sacrifices to make your business succeed. If, for example, you will be launching a side hustle while keeping your 40-hour-per-week job, and you sleep about seven hours each night, that leaves 79 hours of free time per week. Even if you add parenting responsibilities, exercise, and housework to the mix, you are still left with hours to fill. How do you want to spend them? Giving up Candy Crush and Netflix sounds great on paper, but will you?

To transition from hobbyist to professional, you need to determine how many hours it will take to produce a salable product or service, and build an audience or client base. You may need to work long hours for a long time before you’re able to make a profit. And there’s no one else to pick up the slack when you’re feeling sick or tired. Of course, once you have the budget for employees, freelancers, or interns, you can delegate to your heart’s content.

“Working for myself, doing the things I love — I couldn’t ask for more,” said Ella Stern, a personal development counselor. “My work genuinely doesn’t feel like work because I’m incredibly passionate about what I do. Being your own boss gives you freedom, flexibility and the power to control your finances. But it’s not always an easy ride.”

If you’re serious about turning your hobby into a business, then you should map out exactly how many hours you will devote to your endeavors. For best results, block out chunks of time in your computer calendar or day planner specifically for your business and stick to it.

Brainstorm ideas for diversifying revenue streams

Brainstorm ideas for diversifying revenue streams (Photo credit: kantver, Depositphotos.com)

1. Create a plan

In order to begin monetizing your hobby, you have to devise a game plan. This plan will obviously have to be tweaked along the way, but it’s worthwhile to have a strategy in place from the start.

This is something Tom Hess, a successful guitar teacher, regularly tells his students if they express an interest in someday becoming music instructors as well. He advises them to start part-time and gradually shift into full-time work.

“Fill up all your available time on nights and weekends with students and save all the money you make (do not spend a penny!),” Hess says. “Once you have saved enough money to cover four to six months of expenses, quit your job and go all-in to build your guitar teaching business even further.”

This may not be your particular game plan, but you need one of some kind. There’s nothing smart about diving in blindly and hoping things work out.

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