5 Questions Before Turning Your Hobby Into a Business

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Turning your hobby into a career can be satisfying and lucrative. But you need to ask these five questions before taking the plunge.

Do what you love and the money will come, it’s often said. And countless successful entrepreneurs can testify that the saying is true.

Still, most of us find it hard to resist the lure of safety and security promised by a full-time job, no matter how boring the work is.

Each year, millions of young people head straight into the workforce from high school or college to begin a stable — though not necessarily satisfying — career.

Imagine how much happier they would be spending every day doing what they love while also making a reasonable living.

How can you make that happen? Turn your hobby into a business.

But before you give it a try, consider these questions:

Can my hobby be monetized?

Whether you’ll make money depends on whether your hobby provides a unique or in-demand product or service for you to sell. Not sure? Here are a few income-generating ideas:

  • Sell your goods. Set up a consignment agreement to test the waters, or open up shop on your own. Another option is to advertise your goods through online marketplaces such as eBay, Etsy or Craigslist.
  • Use your talents. For example, if you’re handy around the house, highly organized or a natural at color schemes and home decor, use those talents to get paid.
  • Teach your skills to others. Show others how to make something you created, or equip them with the skills to provide a service at which you excel.
  • Take your hobby on the road. Host live events for enthusiasts who share your hobby.
  • Write away. The Internet isn’t going anywhere, and neither is the content that keeps the wheels turning day in and day out. Present yourself as a subject-matter expert and create a blog, a series of e-books or content for websites.

Have I scoped out the competition?

Consider the competitive landscape. If there’s competition in the field you’re looking at, there’s a proven market — but you also will have to offer greater value than your competitors.

If there’s no competition, you’ll be on your own to convince consumers that they need what you’re providing. That’s a tougher sell.

On a positive note, if you do convince customers to buy, you should have the marketplace to yourself — at least for a little while.

Is my product or service competitive?

Test your product on family and friends in exchange for their honest opinion and feedback on how much they’d be willing to spend for it.

If friends and family aren’t exactly your target market, consider gathering feedback by setting up focus groups or creating a survey from an online platform such as SurveyMonkey.

If consumers aren’t willing to pay enough for your product to cover your costs, head back to the drawing board.

Do I know where to go for help?

You’ve probably heard that a small business should have a “business plan.” But do you even know what that means? Do you know all of the other steps a new business must take?

Fortunately, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers some great information in the article “10 Steps to Starting a Business.”

You can also tap into the wisdom and advice of veteran and retired entrepreneurs through the SCORE program.

Is this really what I want and need?

Before you commit, ask yourself if this really is what you want to spend your days doing.

Even if the answer is yes, do you have the capital it takes to get things up and running and to sustain yourself during the startup period?

You will need to think hard about whether or not the business has the potential to financially support your family and lifestyle.

Still ready to proceed? Consider taking things slowly for some time until you get adjusted and demand grows for what you provide.

During this time, pay off high-interest debt such as credit cards. Being rid of that burden will ease the transition from the stability of your day job to the uncertainty — and excitement — of running your own business.

Have you converted your hobby into a business? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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