Making a living doing what you love could be a dream ‒ so long as you get it right.
Do you work to live or live to work? If you're currently in a role that is far from your ideal job, you might have flirted with a tempting notion: Should you turn your hobby into a full-time career? You already adore spending your free time doing it, so why not make a living at it?
It sounds too good to be true and, in some cases, it might be. The realities of starting up alone or making a small business work are tough. But that's not to say that there's no point in trying. Preparing as best you can will help you thrive in this risky endeavor. So, to make sure you're primed for wild career success, you will need to tick the following boxes:
You're making it work part time
Ditching your day job to make your hobby a career might sound like a dream come true. However, before you dive in head-first, it's wise to test the water. One of the savviest ways you can determine whether you have a viable business on your hands is to start small. Launching your venture on a part-time basis will give you an understanding of the market and help you figure out whether there's a demand for your services.
If your business idea is one you can execute online, you might be able to fit it around your current nine-to-five role. Alternatively, you could look into cutting your hours back in your existing job to make more time for your hobby (or soon-to-be career). Take the time to figure out what works for you and your lifestyle. Needless to say, you should ensure that you have a healthy enough income to sustain yourself while you give this a shot.
You've built a loyal audience
Selling a commercial product or service? You're going to need an audience. Whether you're knitting socks and selling them on Etsy or positioning yourself as a branding expert, you need to let people know what you have to offer.
Before you even think about throwing in the towel at work, you should work on building an audience for your services. That way, when you decide that you're ready to launch and give it a go, you will already have a pool of potential customers to whom you can promote.
Social media will be a vital tool when it comes to reaching people. Setting up on channels on platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter early on will help you gauge interest in your business. Plus, learning how to promote yourself online is a challenge in itself. Spend some time reading blogs on sites such as Hootsuite and Buffer to get started. Should you want to dig a little deeper, you could also consider taking an online marketing course.
You've done the market research
You may be certain that you've got a million-pound idea, but that's no assurance that the rest of the world will fall head over heels in love with it. For that reason, you need to conduct market research in the area. This step will also allow you to decide how much you should charge for your services and what competition is out there already.
The simplest way you can get started is to look at similar businesses and services online. What companies or individuals are already out there? How would you assess their brand and offering? Could you offer a superiour service and, if so, how? Compile a report based around these questions and you will have a basic understanding of the market.
You've written a business plan
Turning your hobby into a business isn't all fun ‒ there will be some dull moments if you want to do it right. If you're hoping to go it alone and become a limited company or even a sole trader, you need to write out a business plan. Doing so will allow you to deeply understand your idea and figure out whether it will work as a career path. Luckily, there is advice on how to write a complete business plan on the government website, which makes things simple.
By downloading one of the templates online, you will find that writing your plan is actually quite straightforward. While the process may seem labourious, it is an essential part of setting your future goals and identifying any possible pitfalls ahead of time. The planning process gives you the opportunity to truly assess whether this pathway is right for you.
You've got savings to fall back on
Think you're going to start making money overnight? Think again. Unfortunately, 20 per cent of new businesses close within the first year, according to a report from The Telegraph. What's more, when you first start your company and get running, the chances are that you will be making losses rather than bags of cash.
With that in mind, ensure that you have some savings in the bank to keep you going. If you're thinking of turning your hobby into a career but don't have a safety net, you might want to delay the transition and spend some time creating one. Having that extra level of security means that you can survive without an immediate cash-flow and weather the storm that will most certainly come your way.
Before you take the leap, it could also be worth getting some advice from a business or finance advisor. You can get help and support from Startups.co.uk, for example.
You're ready to graft hard!
Make no mistakes, setting up alone is hard. You will likely be working more than 40 hours a week. We're talking late nights, early mornings and a lot of hard graft in between. However, if you succeed, it might be the best move you could've made.
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