The way people choose to make a living has shifted within the few decades, from working your way up a corporate ladder in a traditional 9-to-5 job to moving into a more balanced, personally fulfilling model. Technology and internet-based platforms have created a world wherein people can make money and support themselves by selling niche-market products and services online, where they can reach those specific target audiences no matter where they are geographically.
This opens up options to anyone who might have an artistic skill, craft or hobby that is marketable and actually turn it into a business. Monetizing these endeavors does not lead to guaranteed propositions, but the kind of exposure you can get on digital and social media with little to no investment of your own is extremely useful when building a brand.
So how do you get started? First ask yourself a few important questions.
Do you have the proper resources?
Before you dive in, you need to know whether or not you have the time, funds and support system in place – knowing this leads to a better understanding of how this journey will impact you in the long run. You need to be honest with yourself and the people that matter most in your life, your friends and family, because their opinions and guidance will be valuable in an immeasurable number of ways.
Do you have an idea worth value?
The next thing to ask yourself is, “Is my idea for a new start-up business really good enough?” Particularly if you’re looking to turn your hobby into a full-time career, it’s important to really examine whether or not the thing you love is a thing that will also make you money.
A good way to gauge this is what I call the “Theory of IT.” Ask these questions, and in the place of the word “IT,” put your hobby or business idea.
- Will IT sell?
- Who would buy IT?
- What can I do with IT?
If you can come up with clear answers to these questions, your hobby has potential for monetization, and it’s time to see what others think. Show IT, promote IT, and get feedback. Have people sample IT, taste IT, watch IT, touch IT, try IT and talk about IT. Find out what they like about IT and if IT is something they would want to pay for. That firsthand feedback can not only determine if your hobby is marketable, but also help identify the direction or approach to take when putting your business plan together.
But there’s still more to consider before hanging out your shingle.
Can you still find passion in your hobby once it turns into your job?
Making your hobby your job means accepting that the thing you do for fun is now the thing you do for work. It’s far more personal than clocking in on a factory floor or sitting in a cubicle from 9 to 5. To be successful, you have to be ready to devote 100 percent of your mental and physical energy to it, and you need to come to terms with the potential for setbacks and failures.
Ask yourself, “Can I accept failing at something I love if it doesn’t work out?” Accepting failure doesn’t mean giving up and never trying again, but it does mean acknowledging that you may not be a master of your craft yet, or that you need to approach your business model in a new way.
So what are some practical steps to get started? Try giving yourself small, attainable goals. Often times, people get so bogged down by the big picture that they forget to celebrate small victories. Picking something achievable to commit to each week makes the entire process feel less tedious and more fun.
Establish an office where you can stay focused. We’ve heard time and time again stories of startup companies that climbed their way out of their parent’s basement, garage, bathroom and backyard, but when you’re getting off the ground, it’s so important to have your own space. Find somewhere, it doesn’t matter where, to put a desk and, as silly as it sounds in the age of cell phones, a landline. It will make you feel more established, give you a place to keep your records and help you stay motivated to think bigger.
It can also be hugely beneficial to find someone whose opinion you trust to join your team immediately. Having a loyal partner means you can rely on their feedback, bounce ideas off of each other and celebrate the milestones together. You may find that your friends and family will listen politely but may not share your same level of enthusiasm as you about the business opportunity, and that’s ok! But having someone by your side who is just as passionate about the entrepreneurial journey as you gives you a better shot at enjoying it.