10 Tips for the Aspiring Business Entrepreneur
- Think Expansively
If you are attracted to the idea of turning a passion into a business, think not just of a typical definition of “hobby,” but of all your skills. One way to investigate this is to think of what your friends or family typically ask you for help with that they don’t like to do or don’t know how to do. Do you make all the sweet treats for your family’s party functions? Are you helping your friends bring their lyrics to life and producing and recording songs for them? Are you that go to person when someone loses a button on a top, has a broken zipper or a cool idea for a trendy outfit? Do you like to do what others might find tedious, like party-planning and troubleshooting computer problems? Making a list of these types of strengths can help you identify marketable talents.
- Will it Stay Fun?
What you don’t want to do is take an enjoyable activity in your life and turn it into drudgery. Make sure whatever you choose to do it's something you're passionate about.
- Don’t Quit Your Day Job
This one may be obvious, but of course we have to let you know. Remember you are just getting started. By easing into your potential business, you’ll avoid blowing off a lot of money early and you give yourself time to assess the viability of your gambit in a measured way.
- Find a Way to Display Your Talents
Displaying your talents on social media is a simple and low-commitment way for you to reach a large group of potential customers. You can also get exposure the old fashioned way by displaying your offerings in public. For example, if you are a photographer, think about purchasing a booth at a festival or fair to show off your work. Or donate your goods or services as part of a non-profit event. Online marketing is important, but pounding the pavement can help get the word-of-mouth rolling.
- Research the Market/Competition
Business school professors talk a lot of “relevant differentiation.” Put more simply, you need to figure out what is going to set your business apart from others. It’s very hard to succeed in establishing a personal business these days just by offering the lowest prices, so look for what you can offer customers that others can’t.
- Wear Your Fun Hat AND Your Business Hat
Even though the activities associated with your enterprise can feel more like a pastime, you need to avoid letting your expenses and time swerve into unproductive efforts. Keep records of your hours, your costs and your sales to judge how to optimize your resources.
- Really Reach Out With Your Outreach
One of the huge advantages you have now in starting a business is the dramatic leveling of the playing field that has happened because of the internet. Whether it is through your own web page or via Etsy, Facebook, Upwork, or Fiverr, it is vital to use as many outlets as possible to reach potential customers. One method a lot of hobby-to-business entrepreneurs have enjoyed success with is positioning themselves as an expert in their chosen field. This can be done by authoring how-to articles on sites like dotdash.com or ehow.com, or by creating a blog about your topic of expertise.
- Reputation Matters
In this computer age world, the word gets around fast, good or bad. Set yourself apart by providing exemplary service. If you aren’t feeling motivated to provide great customer care, maybe your chosen endeavor isn’t meant to be a business.
- Know the Tax Consequences
It’s never a good idea to try to “hide” any income you are making. Consult with a tax professional for advice on how to best report your expenses and profits. Also ask about the best strategies for eventually picking a legal entity for your business.
- Always Keep Learning and Evolving
The best way to limit your business is to only think short-term. Tastes change, as do ways of doing business. If you are not staying up on the latest trends in your field and looking for ways to capitalize on them, you will eventually fall behind the competition.
The old saying advises to “do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.” While even the most fun careers will sometimes feel like work, creating a business you truly love can help you create your most fulfilling life possible.