If like me you are sick and tired of all the doom and gloom stories about continued austerity measures, public sector and welfare reforms then it’s time to start thinking about your Plan B.
If you’ve never thought of starting a business or you’ve decided that it’s time to take a new direction, the first place to start at is to ask yourself – what am I interested in? Then on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest) how passionate are you about that interest. If it’s less than 5 – I’d say forget it, keep it as a hobby! But anything over 8 means you are on to a winner.
The interesting thing is that many of us have a hobby that we thoroughly enjoy. When we partake of the activity, we lose track of time because we are fully engaged, flexing our creative muscle AND enjoying yourself more than we ever are when we are at work. So if you, like many women out there who has a latent desire to turn your part time hobby in to a full time business and wavering on making the commitment, then here are my 7 reasons how you can turn your hobby into a profitable lifestyle business.
1. Share Your Talent
Have you been passionate about your hobby for a long time? Can your hobby be a solution to someone’s problem? Do you want to show others how to benefit from your expertise? Could your interest turn you into an expert? Would others be prepared to pay for your knowledge?
If you answered yes then these are good reasons to take that next step.
2. Ditch the Worker Bee Syndrome
No matter what level women are in the workforce; from the secretaries to the senior managers there are hoards of women wishing they could create a more rewarding career. Even They get up, go through the motions and go to bed at night and then wake up the next day to repeat this monotonous pattern, all the while craving greater job satisfaction and fulfilment. And it’s not always about the money. There are many women earning lucrative salaries from their C Suite, the envy of those below them, but struggling to stay engaged in their roles because their jobs no longer satisfies, challenges or makes them happy.
The greatest joy about self-employment is that you create your job specification and role based around your strengths, motivations, talent and values. Make no mistake, you may be working longer, unsociable hours but the fact that you are the master of your own destiny means that you are fully engaged, doing something you love, every single day AND making a profit!
3. Make Your Customer Your Best Friend
It’s great to be passionate but it’s important that you do your research about your potential business sector; identify your niche and allocate your limited resources accordingly.
Turning your hobby into a business is no easy feat. Switch roles for a moment. If you are the consumer, this propels you into a great position to work out what is missing in the market and what gaps need filling. Think carefully, what changes would you like to see in the market? How can you make it better for others with the same hobby and provide services to meet this need? Once you can answer these questions you will be in a better position to fine tune your offering to resolve their issues and satisfy their motivations.
Thorough research into a market before setting up business, is vital to your success because it allows you to strategically target the core customers who will buy your products. Without this knowledge you are liable to make numerous mistakes that you can avoid if you have undertaken good, quality research,
Don’t underestimate the value in knowing, understanding and making your customer your best friend (on paper) because it will give you a profitable head start.
4. Start from the Dining Table
Writing your business plan is crucial at this point. By researching your business needs you will know how much money you need; if you need to borrow from external agencies and where to position your resources more effectively.
Some of the most iconic businesses have started from spare rooms, garages and a dining table. Think Dyson, Microsoft and even Virgin was reported as starting from a pub beer mat!
Depending on what your hobby is, you may already have the tools you need to set up your own business. If your hobby is oil painting, photography or making cupcakes for example, and you wanted to start selling your products, you already have everything you need for your basic business start-up. However, taking it to market will require additional costs for equipment etc. to ensure that your business can meet the growing demands for sales, packaging, distribution regulation etc. whilst remaining feasible and competitive.
With the rise of virtual working, smart technology and remote offices, start-up costs are less prohibitive than a decade ago. If you are starting from home, don’t forget to forecast future moving and staff costs if you intend to take your business to the next level.
But more importantly, don’t forget to incorporate your personal budget into your start-up costs in order to pay your bills. Without a regular pay packet you need to know how much capital you need to run your household (especially if you the sole breadwinner) because women are notorious for starting their business under capitalised.
5. You have connections
Don’t underestimate the value of your ‘black book’ and how you can tap into your contacts to spread the word about your business; make recommendations and generate sales!
Depending on how long you have being crafting your hobby, you may have developed valuable personal and professional connections over the years. People who share your interest in your hobby; been members of classes or workshops you have attended or are/been members of clubs you have joined.
Not only does this put you in a position to bounce your ideas off likeminded people (a mastermind group) but it also enables you to gather valuable marketing ideas and strategies to take your business to market faster than if you did this alone. And that’s not all.
Over time you will be able to use your social contacts to not only make sales but develop leads with people who you can form contras, partnerships and/or joint ventures to extend your profit pipeline.
6. Passion Isn’t Just for Porn Stars
I always tell my start up customers that nothing they are bringing to the business world is new unless they are an inventor or scientist.
So what makes your small business stand out in a crowded market place where people are offering similar products and services to your own? Like it or not our business and personal brand becomes entwined so it is important that you reflect your positive, personal attributes and values on every occasion, because people buy people!
Who wants to hang out with the miserable, boring and lacklustre when you can bring the fun, vibrancy and positive energy to your business. And this is where passion comes in.
Passion is a great self-motivator when it comes to business but remember many people have forged successful careers and businesses without it. The value of passion for a micro, solopreneur and small business owner is that the excitement and passion you feel for your hobby, when you channel it into a business, will show through to your customers and stakeholders and that enthusiasm becomes infectious.
People are more likely to buy from a company that has a passion for their product, than if it is a half-hearted attempt at making some money. But don’t be lazy. Passion without focus, action and determination is still doomed to fail. Use your passion wisely.
7. Stop wondering…what if?
How many of us are living lives designed by someone else? Doing jobs that our parents through were sensible and secure? Not going after the role that really excited us but worse still, not taking that leap of faith and creating a business based on our truest, latent desire?
Ask yourself, would you be happy to continue your life as it is or if you knew you could not fail (and money was no object) would you have the courage and conviction to turn your pastime or hobby into a viable business that would give you the freedom and fulfilment you desire?
Well just think, how would you feel if a few years down the line, you came across a successful business with the same ideas that you had? Meanwhile, you are still working for someone else, in a job you don’t like. Life is too short for regrets and remember the richest place in the world is the graveyard where too many valuable dreams, hopes and desires are buried.
Work With Sonia
If you would like to learn how to turn your hobby or interest into a viable business then why not join Sonia Brown MBE and Lee Currier, Regional Enterprise Manager, NatWest for a free inspirational, informative and interactive business booster workshop on Monday 14th July 2014, between 5:30pm – 8:30pm, Birmingham.
To book your place and/or further information visit: