Whether you’re dreaming of taking your talents to the next level or are looking to top up your retirement savings, turning your favourite hobby into a business can be an incredibly rewarding journey. Of course, it’s not quite as simple as upping production and watching the profits roll in. Setting up a small business takes time, energy and bucketloads of passion. It’s not always easy, but with a little love and attention there’s no reason why you can’t succeed.
Ready to take the next step? Here’s how to get your hobby turned small business up and running:
Create a business plan
First things first, a solid business plan is a must. This doesn’t mean you have to sit down and create a multi-page document, but it does call for a little time, thought and effort. Ultimately, your business plan will serve as an anchor for everything you do. It should outline your company values and core demographic, as well as a handful of short, medium and long-term goals.
Transforming your hobby into a business isn’t always as straightforward as it might seem, especially when it comes to edibles. For example, if you whip up the world’s best fudge and want to start selling beyond church fetes you’ll need to tick a few “red tape” boxes before you can proceed. For more information check out our article on how to get professional in your kitchen.
Develop a branding strategy
Branding plays a huge role in launching new businesses. It creates trust, builds recognition and inspires customers to take the plunge on a purchase. Get your business off the ground with a creative branding strategy that makes an impact. This can mean anything from designing a company logo to creating unique packaging. Feeling stuck? Why not enlist the help of an artistic teenage grandkid or hire an online freelancer via a platform like Fiverr?
Suss out potential vendors
When it comes to launching a local business, the absolute best tactic is to take a personal, hands-on approach. For example, if you’re trying to source vendors for your handmade jewellery you should spend an afternoon calling at different gift stores or boutiques that stock similar products. Bring in samples, chat to the managers and spend a little time networking on behalf of your brand.
Get out there
Gaining exposure, connecting with new customers and showcasing your wares is one of the most exciting parts of turning a hobby into a small business. New Zealand is loaded with opportunities for local vendors, offering everything from Lonely Planet-listed farmers markets to local craft fairs. Firm favourites include the Matakana Farmers Market, Wellington Underground Market and Queenstown Arts and Crafts Market.
Launch an online presence
These days it’s pretty much essential to maintain an online presence. This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours a day updating your Facebook page or posting Instagram pictures. But at the very least you should offer your customers an online point of reference. This is particularly important when it comes to sourcing repeat business and letting people know where to find you. Websites are a great place to start and are surprisingly easy to build with platforms like Weebly.
Farmers markets, craft fairs and local businesses are all fantastic places to sell artisan goods. But without embracing e-commerce you won’t be doing your business justice. Platforms like Etsy are a godsend for independent sellers wanting to connect with a global marketplace. Before you know it, you could be getting orders for crochet merino wool scarves placed in the UK! E-commerce websites can be a little more complicated to set up, however they’re worth the effort as they cut out the middle man and radiate professionalism. For expert advice on setting up a website have a read through our article on e-commerce best practice.
Nothing says “entrepreneurship” quite like the ability to dream big. Launching a business might not be easy but the rewards can be incredible, and this doesn’t just apply to profits. So work hard, believe in yourself and turn your dreams into a bona fide business.
Do you have experience transforming a hobby into a small business? We’d love to hear your tips!