Turning a favorite hobby into a business venture sounds like a good idea, right? After all, you have been involved in your hobby for several years. Everyone thinks your work is wonderful and would love to have one of your inspiring creations.
Selling to friends and family is great, but you will quickly run out of sales when your closest people complete their gift list.
The Research Begins
It is time to do some research about your product. Thank goodness for the Internet as it makes this task a whole lot easier.
First things first, take a look at your competition. Who is selling your product or something similar? What do they charge for their products? Looking up online stores will be very helpful to you.
The number one store for home created products is Etsy, and it displays exactly how many items each vendor sells. Look into pricing and make sure you can handle orders of different sizes.
To some people it’s important thing to be in the profit zone. If this is not true for you and you just want to sell a few things here and there, that’s perfectly okay.
Once you’ve looked up your competition, take some time to research the demand for your product. If the demand is high, how much time do you want to spend creating your product if you should become very busy? Can you get others to help you?
You probably know how much money you can spend to start your business. You will need supplies to make samples. Will you invest in marketing? Do you have enough time to spend budgeting each day? There are also many hidden expenses and decisions that you will need to make on a daily basis.
This business set-up is an entire different story than making up a few items and giving them away. Make enquiries with as many as a dozen (or more) online suppliers to get the best prices for your materials.
Begin Going Down This List
- Do a feasibility study of your product by tirelessly researching online, talking to people and checking with your local market.
- Get active on the social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest), or pay someone to help you build a solid list of followers.
- You will need a sales tax license and possibly a local business license.
- Check all wholesale suppliers for best and least expensive materials you may use.
- Business cards, brochures and other marketing materials are also important.
- A pretty website with a blog section will also help you gain visibility.
- Make sure you are set up with easy ways for people to purchase your products.
- You can set up a store on Etsy Zazzle or Shopify to name a few. Pick the best option for your product and your budget.
- Many cities have Small Business Development Centers, and you can get free support and help from their experts on an ongoing basis.
Very often, when you have a much admired product that has been just a hobby, you may tend to think the money will just roll in.
Unfortunately, it is not that simple. Starting a business requires a great deal of homework, patience and finding your market niche. Make sure you do not cut corners with anything, but find the best and easiest way to proceed.
It is a good strategy to start very slowly with your venture, and get all the ducks in a row before getting the word out.
A very important issue to address is the safety of your product. That is an area you may have never thought about, but it is crucial. Perhaps you have stones glued on fabric or buttons sewn. Make sure they are permanently secure so that a little kid cannot pull them off.
You have to be pedantic when considering safety. Look at all aspects of your product before selling on a regular basis.
For example, I hand paint tote bags and use nontoxic paint. I sometimes decorate the bags with glued stones, too. Even though I’m extremely careful though, it has happened that a stone would come off. So, you may think I am being over careful, but this is for everyone’s safety and wellbeing.
Check into insurance – especially if you are putting together a culinary product. You need to use a commercial kitchen in order to sell to the public and have the proper insurance.
Setting Up Space to Work
You must have a designated work space. No matter how small the space, make sure you have places to store your supplies and file important papers you will need to run the business.
It is a really good idea to have everything very organized or you will spend a lot of time searching for what you need. Organizing is something I do on a daily basis.
The next article in this series, turning a hobby into a business, will be all about the marketing and placement of your products. Today, with the Internet being the resource everyone turns to, it is a whole new world of business. In some ways, it is easier, and in others it is much more challenging.
Have you considered turning a hobby into a business? What is your favorite hobby? Do you think you could start a business with your hobby? Please share your thoughts below.