It’s easy to get lost in our hobbies. They’re the way we relax and unwind – how we flex our creativity and learn new skills. And for some, there comes a point when we want to take our hobbies to the next level, turning them into a business opportunity. And why not? What better way to put money in your pocket than doing something you love?
But if you truly want to turn your pastime into a revenue-generating side hustle, you’ll need to take the right steps to get there.
Before you turn your hobby into a business, you first need to look at the opportunity for making money. After all, you can’t really call it a side hustle if you’re not earning any income. And there’s nothing worse than starting a business that’s doomed to fail from the beginning.
A good place to start is by looking for people who are already making money in this industry. Begin by finding three to five other entrepreneurs in your same niche. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same product/service that you want to provide, but make sure it’s something similar. From your research, try to answer the following questions:
- What is their product or service?
- How are they making money?
- What are their biggest challenges?
- Who is their audience/target demographic?
- How are they promoting themselves?
- What are they doing differently than other competitors?
- What could they do better?
When doing this initial research, you’re trying to uncover a few key points. You want to make sure that someone will be willing to buy your product/service. But you also want to make sure that the market isn’t already saturated with businesses.
In some cases, it may also make sense to reach out to these entrepreneurs for advice.
Your First Sale
Getting a side hustle off the ground can be stressful. You don’t have to be a tycoon right out of the gate. Instead, just concentrate on the first sale. This can be from anyone – your neighbors, your coworkers or even your mom! It doesn’t matter where you get your first business; what matters is that you’ve gained some experience. When it comes to starting a business, this early win will be a great stepping stone for future success.
A big mistake that new entrepreneurs make is doing too much, too fast, and with too little experience. Tackle a single task at a time, especially at first. Before you know it, these successes will build upon each other.
A Business Plan
Once you’ve scoped out the competition and discovered the opportunity, you then need to start creating your business plan. Along with your initial research, you’ll need to also look at things like infrastructure and a profitability plan. There are many reasons an aspiring entrepreneur would want to have a business plan. It will allow you to set early objectives/goals, create a strategy, woo investors and more.
While there’s not a single way to make a business plan, there are some useful plan templates available online. From here you’ll need to consider the nuts and bolts of your business, such as the company description, your marketing plan, the management of the business and a plan for securing small business financing.
For some, this deep planning time may sound like a drag, but it’s a necessary evil if you want your hobby to grow into something more.
As the adage goes, you’ve got to spend money to make money. But when you’re first transitioning your hobby in to a side hustle, don’t be afraid to start small. Instead of betting the farm on your first go, start by looking for easy sales to grow your experience and customer base.
When you’re ready to seek out financing, be sure you do it the right way. For larger investments, it usually doesn’t make sense to put those funds on a credit card (unless you’re in drop shipping or a similar niche). Instead, go with a lower-interest personal loan. This will allow you to use the extra capital to grow your business at a faster rate.
There are other opportunities for covering these startups costs as well, including angel investors (someone with plenty of capital to invest in a startup), crowdsourcing and small business grants.
No matter the industry, you’re going to have to attract an audience. Here are some of the best ways to grow an audience when you’re first starting out.
Niche Creep – Find forums and blogs that are about your niche. Add comments and present yourself as an expert. There are opportunities for engaging these already interested readers and pulling their business.
Social Presence – Everyone talks about doing social media for their small business, but few people actually do it well. The best way to get a new audience on places like Facebook and Instagram is by giving something away (like a guide or a course) or hosting a contest. This way, you can make an easy connection and begin building a list of people who you can sell your product/service to.
And – because of Facebook’s algorithms – you’ll likely need to spend money promoting these ads if you want new people to see them.
Referrals – Once you have a client, try to turn them into an opportunity for referral traffic. A referral is someone who buys your product/service on the recommendation of someone else. This is especially true if you’re selling something that a person will usually buy more than once. To get a referral, sometimes you can offer a deal on a future product, which will inspire them to share the good news about … you.
Leech onto Greatness – One of the best ways to get more clients is through riding on the tails of other businesses. Go to a business with a similar niche and offer to give free samples to their clients. This will benefit the successful business because it allows them to give a bonus to their customers, and it benefits you because you are allowed the opportunity to be in front of a new clientele.
When getting a side hustle or small business off the ground, the hardest part is actually starting. Using these tips, take the first step today and turn your hobby in to a side hustle.
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