We’ve all had the dream.
Quitting your day job to follow your passion. Turning your hobby from something you do in the basement at weekends into an internationally known household name. You’ll never have to worry about waking up on a Monday or being short of cash again.
What are the steps in between though? Whatever your passion is, it’s only a potential goldmine if you do things properly. Below we’ve listed some essential steps to give your hobby the best chance of developing into a business you’ll find success with.
Start within your personal means
Nobody ever started a brand by getting ahead of themselves.
Small brands regularly take off because they understand their limitations and the breadth of their appeal. Your little craft brand may well be poised to have an active audience who anticipate your every release, but it won’t appeal to everyone.
The key to a successful side hustle, whether expanding on a hobby or trying your hand as an entrepreneur, is to make sure it fits within your current schedule. Trying to do two 9-5 jobs in one day is impossible and will leave you drained and resenting your hobby. You never know how your life is going to change outside of your hobby. If you’re going to give up on one job, it’s not going to be the one with guaranteed income.
Don’t try and pivot to concepts you don’t understand either. If content creation and social media aren’t your strong points it’s best not to attach your brand to reams of sub-par output and instead focus on establishing the core of your brand and the quality of your services first.
Invest in a website
One of your first steps as a new business should be making sure people can find you.
Your website is the sun your business revolves around. It’s where virtual customers browse and purchase products. Where they book sessions for your classes. Where they learn about your story and get invested in your brand. Without a website the average person has no way of knowing your business exists. You can’t just stick your number in the phone book and wait for business to roll in, the world has moved on. Having a website turns your home or your favorite coffee shop into an operations office.
The quality of your website and the perception it puts across to new visitors about your website is essential. You want something that reflects your brand and its values. Even if that’s minimalist and small-time, it doesn’t mean you should skimp on the quality. Audiences have become accustomed to a certain standard of service and will move onto a competitor if you don’t match their expectations.
Find your USP
What makes you unique?
History’s greatest business ideas have all had very simple unique selling points. When transforming your hobby into a brand, think about what separates you from potential competitors and what unique attribute will attract customers.
One way to succinctly define your USP is by imagining the kind of customer you want to attract. Consider thinking about their...
- Personality: How do they currently shop and interact with similar products? Do they make this purchase frequently? Are they looking for a cheaper option?
- Needs: What are they looking for in your sector?
- Fulfillment: How does what you’re offering fulfill their needs?
The majority of artistic hobbies that succeed as businesses do so because they are run by people who love what they do. This passion, combined with a well defined USP, can help everything fall into place and set your brand apart in a crowded market
Do your research
This section could be titled “Take your time”. There’s no need to rush anything, it’ll only give you more work cleaning up after yourself. Improper planning is one of the main reasons small businesses fail. Take a step away from practicing your hobby and invest some time into research.
Through researching your competition you’ll pick up what they’re doing well, what gap they’re not filling that you could exploit and how they’re presenting themselves. Look into the market leaders and brands at the level you are, a full scope allows you to take ideas from both ends. Look into the customer base, who are your targets and what are their habits?
You’ll find things you would never have thought about otherwise, like do you need to start testing envelope types or invest in new equipment? Research doesn’t just save time and money, it helps define your ideas, company and brand.
Use social media to your advantage
You may not like Facebook, but just like with a website, if your business isn’t socially active it doesn’t exist to many people. A strong, active portion of your audience will either want to learn more about you or connect with you through social media.
Proper social media practice isn’t just about making accounts on as many platforms as possible, you need to find the platform that fits your brand and audience. Certain audiences will react differently based on the conventions of the platform.
Small businesses often neglect or get frustrated with social media because they don’t have a defined social strategy. Social media is the perfect space to develop your brand identity, letting your personal and business personality shine and highlight what you do best. So much of social media is visual, so use it to build that element of your brand.
Know your limitations
Don’t try and turn your hobby into a brand it can’t be. If you’re trying to sell your art, emulating the practices of a tech giant probably isn’t the best strategy. The success of other small businesses can often lead entrepreneurs to think that’s the only way things can be done. The truth is there are many ways to do things, you just need to know what works for you.
Try and work within a strict budget. Chances are, you’ll go over it, but it’ll help keep your research and idea sessions grounded. We may be talking about turning hobbies into dreams here, but don’t live in a fantasy. Don’t plan to expand into brick and mortar before you’ve made your first sale.
The opportunity to grow your brand after some initial success may seem tempting, but sit on that initial success for a bit and make yourself secure while further defining what makes your brand special.
Transforming a hobby into a brand isn’t quite the same as starting a new business. You’re bringing something you love and have years of experience in with you on this new venture, but it’s important to play things smart. Take advantage of platforms to build your brand the way you want to and think it’ll appeal to people. Most importantly, make sure you don’t lose the love for it.
Written by: Kayleigh Alexandra
"Micro Startups is your online destination for everything startup. We’re dedicated to spreading the word about hard-working solopreneurs and SMEs making waves in the business world. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup, entrepreneur, and charity insights from top experts around the globe @getmicrostarted."