How to Start Turning Your Hobby into a Business

Do you have a hobby you spend hours doing in your free time? Do you dream about turning it into a business? Have your friends and family told you how amazing you are at your hobby and you should really make a business of it? With so many reasons to love being an entrepreneur, you've probably considered taking the leap. It's a big decision and shouldn't be taken lightly. Check out these guidelines to help you establish if starting a business is right for you and how to get started:

1. Determine if the Hobby is a Viable Business

Even the best ideas can fail if you don't do your research to see if it's a viable business idea and make a plan. The U.S. Small Business Administration has a great Size Up tool that allows you to see how your business stacks up with the competition in order to succeed. It will benchmark your business against competitors, map your customers, competitors and suppliers, and locate the best places to advertise. Also, the Census Business Builder: Small Business Edition is a tool that offers demographic insights to help you choose the right locale for your business.

2. Determine if the Hobby is a Viable Business For You

No, that wasn't a typo. It's also important to figure out that even if the hobby could be a successful business, will it work for you, personally? Ask yourself these 5 questions: Will you enjoy doing your hobby when you have to do it on a deadline? Will you enjoy doing it when it means that if you don't, your probably won't have a roof over your head? Are you really committed to this hobby? Are you inspired by a challenge? Can you sell "yourself" or the things you create? You can't know exactly what it's like to be a full time entrepreneur until you are one, but do your research to make sure it's something you want.

3. Determine Your Why

Do some soul searching and figure out why exactly you want to start on this endeavor. You love your hobby, you hate the demands of your 9 to 5 job, your current job doesn't fit the lifestyle you want to live, you want to be able to provide more financially for your family-whatever the reason is, and maybe it's multiple reasons, find a concrete answer. In tough times, which will definitely happen when starting a new business, it's important to be able to always come back to your purpose and remember why you started down this crazy journey. You'll be able to renew your passion and keep pushing.

4. Do it for Free

If you don't love it enough to do it for free at the beginning, do you really love it enough? Give away some samples, offer to speak at a conference at no charge, teach a free class- whatever relates to your business, get your name/product/brand out there. This will give you valuable experience and build your network bigger and quicker than you could have by starting out charging top dollar. Hopefully the people that received the free services will be more willing to give you some quality feedback and help you improve in the future. Customers that come to you via referral are more likely to stay with you in the long run.

5. Develop a Plan

The idea sounds great in your head, but make sure to get in down on paper and establish a formal plan. Work out all of the kinks now in the planning process. The SBA is a great resource for creating a business plan. Present your business plan to friends, family, mentors, or anyone who will listen. Ask them to challenge you with questions. Anything that comes up that you don't know the answer to will be an opportunity to find the answer and better establish your business.

6. Save, Save, Save

It's crucial to build up a savings account of money to cover both your personal and business expenses. Everyone has differing opinions about how much money should be saved. Some say as little as 3 months while others say as high as 2 and a half years' worth of expenses. Track your spending, make realistic predictions as to how much money your business will cost, do the math, and save until you hit that number. It can take a long time before your business begins actually making money, so it's vital that you are prepared.

7. Take the Leap

You've researched, planned, prepared, and dreamed of this moment. Now it's time to take the leap! It's scary, exciting, and thrilling all at the same time; but most importantly, it's rewarding. Following your passion and turning something you love into a business is truly fulfilling. Good luck!

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