How to turn your hobby into a thriving business
Wish you could get paid to do something you love? Find out how you can turn your hobby into a business.
Entrepreneurship is thriving – apparently 2018 is set to be a record year for start-ups, with 43% of those questioned by a leading digital marketing firm saying they were planning on starting a business.
If you are one of these people, and hope to monetise your hobby, read on for some helpful advice.
Can you monetise your hobby?
Getting a new business off the ground takes a lot of hard work. You’ll have to invest a great deal of time, effort, hope and maybe even money, so it makes sense to choose something you feel passionate about. That passion may be the one thing that keeps you going through tough days.
For many people, monetising a hobby is an excellent start. You already love your hobby, and hopefully have a reasonable level of experience in it, so it’s a natural choice for a business idea.
However, not all hobbies can be turned into a viable business. For example, if you build children’s treehouses for fun, with a bit of expertise on the marketing front, you could quite easily start a business making them commercially. But if your hobby is collecting Taylor Swift merchandise, it will be harder to make money on a large scale.
Sit down with a friend or loved one and talk your ideas through. If they fall about laughing, reconsider the validity of your venture. But if they get excited, it is time to take your ideas to the next stage.
Write a business plan
We always recommend that businesses start with some kind of business plan – even if you don’t need to apply for funding.
A business plan sets out how you intend on building and growing your business, from funding and marketing to day-to-day cash flow. It makes you think about what you need to run the business, and highlights any gaps in your thinking.
There are bound to be things you hadn’t thought of, such as creating a website or factoring logistics. Writing a business plan is an opportunity to work out whether your business is viable.
Look for funding
Depending on the type of business you’re planning to start, you may or may not need funding initially. If you do require funding, there are plenty of options to choose from.
We cover funding for startups in more depth here, but some basic options to consider are:
- Your own funds.
- Borrowing from friends and family.
- Bank loan.
- Startup loans (like these from Virgin).
Many of the big high street banks are now much more accommodating to SMEs than they were five years ago, so you can expect a warm welcome and attractive lending conditions.
If you don’t need a huge sum of money, consider using your savings or taking out a small personal loan to buy equipment or tools. This should be fine if your borrowing needs are less than £15k. It’s also helpful if your credit score is low or you already have other loan commitments.
There are specialist lenders who can accommodate people with a poor credit score. You will pay more in interest on your borrowings, but it is easier to be accepted for a loan. Small loans for people with bad credit can help you to monetise a hobby and you don’t need much money to get your venture off the ground.
Speak to an advisor and find out how much you can borrow or try an online loan calculator to see what your repayments will be before you commit – and be realistic about your repayments before you go ahead.
Market your venture
Once your business is off the ground you’ll need to find customers. And that will require a marketing plan. If you don’t already have any experience in marketing, we recommend downloading your free copy of Watertight Marketing. It will guide you through the process from start to finish.
You’ll also need to a social media presence. You’ll need to start out by devising a social media strategy, then choose the platform(s) you want to focus on.
It’s easy to create a dedicated Facebook for your business, for example, but you have to engage with people for it to be worthwhile. The great thing about social media is that you can encourage your followers to share your content, which helps you to reach new customers.
You can even use social media to create a buzz before you get your business started. It’s a useful way to see whether there is demand for your goods or services.
Onwards and upwards
It takes time to build a business, and the early days can be tough. So don’t be too quick to give up your day job if you rely on bringing home a salary. (You can read more about starting a profitable business while working full time here.)
If you do have an urge to turn your hobby into a business, we do recommend following the advice in this article and seeing if it can work. It’s far better to try than spend a life wondering whether it could have worked.
If you’re not sure whether your hobby has the potential to become a business, we recommend getting our Business Idea Kit.
Photo by Holly Stratton