Ever dreamed of turning your hobby into a business? It can be a rewarding way to make a living.
Want to monetize your hobby and become an LGBT entrepreneur?
Are you an artist, artisan, crafter, treasure hunter, up-cycler, baker, farmer or the many many other hobbies that find or produce stuff? Is your storage area starting to overtake the garage and house? Have you considered selling at local weekend markets? Maybe it’s time to think a little larger and reach a global audience. Maybe it’s time to turn your passion into a business.
If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, business will be much more fun. Connect with other LGBT entrepreneurs, startups, business leaders and professionals here on OutBüro – the LGBT business, entrepreneur, and professional global community.
You may consider local and regional farmer’s markets and rent a booth. This typically is renting the space and often comes with power (but check to be sure). If there are no such local markets, there is yet another business idea for you. Start one. These markets provide a fairly low cost to participate and have a limited schedule often being once a month to once a week. Find one that fits your schedule. Attend a couple times to get a feel for the other vendors and the crowd it draws. Approach local stores, shops, cafes, salons, and others to inquire if your product might be a fit for their location and customers. Shopping local is a huge trend so be part of it.
Local is a great start, but why stop there? With the continued growth of online shopping and affordable e-commerce platforms, many of the traditional barriers to launching a small business are gone. You can likely start or grow your own business and sales nationally and globally all from the comforts of your home office.
When turning your passion into a business here are some things to consider:
1. Be prepared to lose some love
Once you turn your passion into a business, you’ll never feel the same way about your hobby again. The idealism of doing what you love for a living will crash head-on with the reality of:
- tracking sales and cash flow
- hitting targets
- managing inventory
- watching competitors
- filing taxes
- finding the right staff as you grow
You are in control of your business. For some, the business side becomes a little overwhelming and begins to take personal fulfillment out of the once hobby. Luckily, you get to choose how much you grow as a business by the actions you take. It is absolutely 100% OK to keep it very small just as it’s 100% to go as big as you can. It’s your business and you decide what’s right for you.
2. Balancing creativity and commercialism
When you create something for personal fulfillment, you can make it however you like. But when that creation becomes a service or product, you often have to work within boundaries. Maybe you make the world’s most awesome blueberry muffins, but will you be happy making over and over again exactly the same each time?
You have to ask:
- how long does it take to make?
- what does it cost to produce?
- how much do I need to sell it for?
- how much will it cost to ship?
It’s a very different approach to creativity. You should also remember that the thing you want to make might not be the exact same thing your customer wants to buy. Be practical about it. Changing your offering to meet market demand is not selling out, Emma says, it’s the reality of running a business.
I’m sure you’ve seen the metal garden figures of dogs and cats. They are made of raw metal and often incorporate gears and springs. They are super cute and there is an assortment of styles. That started with a metal works artists who wanted to turn a hobby into a product that was enticing to the consumer and at affordable prices. If you’re moderately successful, be ready for copycats too wanting to jump in on your success.
If you’re going to turn your passion into a business, be prepared for compromise.
3. Listening to feedback is vital and sometimes brutal
You’re enthusiastic about your hobby and the business idea that flows from it. That’s awesome. It means you’ll have a lot of energy to pour into your new venture. But don’t assume your market will be as excited by your product or service as you are. When you turn your passion into a business, it can be difficult to keep perspective.
Try testing ideas with your market to find out what works and what doesn’t. Get as much nonbiased feedback as possible. While you may get some constructive criticism, don’t take it all to heart. Remember that you cannot please everyone, but still take it seriously because if similar comments keep popping up you might need to take a hard review and be open to change. Keep your cool and always be thankful for the feedback, even if it’s not delivered in the kindest manner. Some people are harshly honest. Don’t get your feeling hurt. Learn, adapt if needed and grow from it.
4. Building your brand with free content
If you want to start your business online, a great way to attract customers is to offer content on the topic. Just be prepared to invest the time to research and build the content. Add value to your customer’s experience.
For example, if you offer local honey, you might consider content about bees, their lives, their process and maybe video content of the process for starters. If you can get a bee to wear a helmet with a live camera that would be awesome. You might consider information on Honey Cookoffs, ways to use honey holistically and recipes.
What kind of content might you be able to accumulate, regurgitate into your own voice and offer in your niche that connects you with your audience?
5. A pragmatic approach to social media
You don’t have to be active on every social media platform. Find out where your audience spends their time and focus there. It sounds obvious but this simple piece of research can save hundreds of hours of lost effort.
With an audience that’s really visual and predominantly women Pinterest and Instagram may currently be the most relevant social media for your business. You may still want a Facebook presence, but you might find other social media channels to garner you more attention.
6. What you should think about when hiring staff
As you grow, you will need to expand the workforce. That’s a huge deal. Suddenly, you are responsible for other people’s livelihoods – not just your own. The decision about when and who to hire was driven by three factors.
- Make payroll
Have enough funds in the bank to at minimum cover three months of salary and benefits.
- Grow revenue
Start by filling positions that could add revenue such as a sales rep or someone who can take over tasks to free you up to focus more on the sales. Afterall, without the sales, nothing else happens.
- Add capability
While it’s tempting to hire staff that will do the jobs you don’t like, it’s more important to hire people who have skills that your business lacks.
Check out the short article on Hiring your First Employee.
7. Separate your personal and professional goals
When you turn your hobby into a business, it’s easy to lose track of time. Both the passion and the business soak up a lot of energy – making it hard to get your work-life balance right.
It’s important to remember your personal goals. If you want to travel, start a family, or just spend less time working – try to plan accordingly:
- Hire people who can take work off your plate.
- Give up control and delegate tasks to your staff.
- Don’t feel obliged to pursue every business opportunity – turn some down.
Turn your passion into a business
Turning your passion into a business is an exciting prospect. Just be prepared to have a different relationship with your hobby when things get going. It’s also important to:
- test and refine your idea with your target market
- prepare for compromise – you may need to tweak your vision
- prepare for a long haul
It’s probably wise to hold onto your day job while you find your feet. Once you’ve put in the time, however, the rewards can be great. You could earn money doing what you love.