At last count, there were more than 22 million one-person (single owner with no paid employees) businesses in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census. Some of these sprang from the minds and hands of hobbyists ready to turn their passion into a money-making enterprise. If you’re ready to join that club, these suggestions will prepare you to turn your hobby into your next successful business venture.
Finding Your Niche
You know what you love to do and how to do it. Now you need to determine if other people want what you have to offer, says Entrepreneur. A little market research will tell you if your business offers something people will pay for. Check out eBay, Etsy and other online venues for similar offerings. Research local retailers without an online presence as well.
Look beyond the obvious niche where you might sell your product or service. Let’s say you like to make miniature structures, such as buildings, cars, people and trees, for use in model train layouts. Could those also be used in doll house sets or school dioramas? Find areas that could benefit from your efforts and turn them into business opportunities.
What Else Do You Need to Know to Start Your Successful Business?
Is there some aspect about your hobby that you would like to do and know better? Make sure you take time to improve yourself and learn as much as you can about your hobby before diving headfirst into a small business.
For example, if you’re a gun collector and have always wanted to know how to restore antique weapons, Penn Foster offers an online accredited gunsmithing program that will teach you basic metalwork, firearm assembly and of course, antique firearm restoration. Plus, taking advantage of an online school means you can continue turning your hobby into a business.
Do you want to do this full time or part time? Set some manageable goals early on. The No. 1 goal should be to avoid is turning a part-time hobby you love into a full-time business you hate. If you’re not sure if this might happen, start small and work your way up. You may be happy earning a little extra income from a 20-hour-per-week business while you stick closer to your normal routine.
Offline Sales and Marketing
Our digital economy has not replaced offline marketing options just yet. If you’re not completely comfortable with online sales, there are other options you can consider while you’re getting caught up online.
Look at local craft fairs, galleries and consignment shops, suggests Fox Business. If you like demonstrating your product, craft fairs are a way to meet people. Some galleries and consignment shops let you set up a display where you can work with your craft while people shop. These options often only charge you a space rental fee, with some venues taking a percentage of your sales, as well.
You could also open a small workshop in your house that’s open to the public. Invite other vendors to the open house and you may meet someone interested in partnering with you that has a complementing skill set.
Alternatives to Selling
Perhaps you’re not interested in selling a product. There are still ways to make some money from your hobby, advices Forbes. Teach other people what you do. Host classes in knitting, cooking or piano repair. Or, use online conferencing platforms such as Skype or Google Hangouts to teach others online.
Approach local community colleges and centers to give talks related to your hobby. For example, local community groups may love to have you talk about civil war weapons and uniforms or a community college course might love to invite in a guest dance teacher to give a special lesson. If you also love to write, online self-publishing is an avenue to consider, as it is an easy way to become an author. Resources like Lulu.com guide you through the process of getting a book up online and ready to sell.
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