Do you have a product or service that you enjoy offering to grateful friends and family members? Perhaps you've been thinking lately that going professional would be a great way to earn some extra money, or even start your career as a small-business owner. While many successful businesses have been built on a hobby's foundation, so have many failed ones. Here are a few precautions--and tips for proceeding if you decide this is the right move for you.
Loving what you do isn't enough
What are your reasons for wanting to turn your hobby into a business? If your only reason is really enjoying your hobby, this simply won't cut it. While having passion for what you do can be a factor in running a successful business, there are so many other considerations in starting up and running one. Also consider that even if you love what you do, running a business will still be work, and you may find yourself loving what you do less and less when you're required to do it instead of wanting to.
Make sure the logistics work
Let's say you edit and offer suggestions on your friends' term papers and are thinking of offering your services campus-wide for a fee. How long does it take you to read and critique a single paper? How much time could you devote to this enterprise without affecting your own studies? If you took on more essays, would you still be able to offer the time and care you're currently taking, which is what makes your service valuable? Could you charge enough to make it worth your time? Figure out all the pertinent logistics before leaping ahead.
Scope out the competition
Sure, your friends might love the mittens you knit them at Christmas, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll be willing to pay for them. Take a trip to the businesses in your area that offer the same services. Compare their pricing with what you're planning to charge and compare quality, too. Can you offer something the competition lacks? If not, it might be hard to draw existing customers away.
Don't skip any steps
Even if you've been at your hobby for years, going into business with it is still an entirely new venture. You'll need a business plan, including cost and earnings projections, space and supplies needed, and so on.
Enlist friends and family to help with the transition
Making the people close to you part of the business launch perhaps will alleviate some of the tension you might feel over asking them to start paying for the services you've always given them for free. Ask them for testimonials and other marketing help. You can offer them a discount for their help, which could further dissipate any awkwardness.
Manage your time like a professional, not a hobbyist
When this was your hobby, all you had to think about was making the product and perhaps filling a few orders. Now you need to think like an entrepreneur, budgeting time for all aspects of your business, such as research and development, marketing and more.
Turning your hobby into a business can be a great thing. You likely have a built-in customer base who knows you're passionate about your offering and will happily help you spread the word. Just take the necessary steps to ensure that your passion can sustain all the headaches (albeit often rewarding ones) that come with owning your own business.