You may have dreamed about quitting your corporate day job and making your living selling crafts on Etsy, or getting rich off that line of hipster tees you laboriously made over a span of a few weekends, but the path from hobby to business can seem mysterious. Scaling up your hobby into a business takes determination, hard work and a long tail. Fox Business notes most people ease into entrepreneurship slowly rather than jump in full time. Get your feet wet with these five tips to turn your hobby into a moneymaker.
1. Get Organized
Chances are good your small business office is your home — which can quickly become crowded with inventory and shipping materials. Dedicate a separate space to your home-based ecommerce business, then get organized. Keep extra packing and shipping materials in the basement, and store your T-shirt inventory in plastic storage bins or on hangers in the guest closet. However you organize your wares, develop a system and take time to maintain it. If you’re not organized, you’re apt to misplace needed items.
2. Upgrade Your Equipment
Before diving in, upgrade your technology. A reliable, fast Internet connection is a necessity for online businesses, so consider switching to a high-speed internet provider such as CenturyLink or whatever high-speed provider is near you to alleviate headaches caused by outages and slow speeds. Consider purchasing a label printer for easier, cheaper shipping of goods and a digital camera to take better pictures of your inventory.
3. Find a Mentor
As you work out the kinks of your new business, you may feel overwhelmed or unsure of what to do next. A mentor offers critical support in these times and can serve as a sounding board. The SCORE program connects retired businesspeople with novice business owners in need of advice, and may be an excellent place to find a mentor.
4. Learn To Scale Up
To turn your hobby into a business, you’ll need to scale up your workflow and product creation. If you screen print those T-shirts yourself, you’re limited by how much you can create in an hour or day. If you scale up and outsource to a printer, you can create hundreds of T-shirts. To pay off the up-front cost of having T-shirts printed, you’ll need to sell more. Every hobby will need to negotiate this phase to become a successful business.
5. Track Your Finances
Since business expenses are tax deductible, you’ll want to keep track of your expenses and, of course, your income. Set aside business receipts in a separate envelope, so you can find them at tax time. Track revenue to gain an understanding of how your business is doing. In slow times, experiment with a different sales strategy or tweaks to your product line to see if you can push sales.
These tips will help you get started on the path to your business. To see it through, you’ll need determination, motivation and courage. At first, you will juggle multiple roles, but if you persist, you just may be able to quit that day job.