Making some extra cash during the holidays and running a full-time small business are two completely different ways of working. If the idea of turning your passion into a career is appealing, here are six steps to help you achieve your dream.
1. Assess yourself
You may be keen to get started immediately, but do yourself a favour and undertake some self-assessment before jumping straight into your new business. While you may love your hobby, it’s important to be honest with yourself about whether you’re good enough to turn professional. Ask for honest and constructive feedback from other people to find out if your ability is realistic enough to earn income from it. If not, how far off are you and how determined are you to take the necessary steps to get to that professional level?
Running a business can be time-consuming, so consider how much time you can commit, especially if you’re not initially generating any revenue. Most businesses require some working capital to get started, so assess the resources you have available before deciding whether you’re prepared to take the leap into the world of small business.
2. Separate your hobby from your business
Just because you love cooking for friends doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll enjoy running a café. Managing staff and dealing with customers may not be your idea of fun, but they’re part and parcel of running a business. The activities involved in running a small business may be different from what you expected. That’s why it’s helpful to understand what your role in the business will be and how it may (or may not) resemble the hobby you love.
3. Test the waters
Before you give up your day job, test the waters. Perhaps try freelancing or working part-time on your business idea. Let friends, family and your broader network know that you’re available so you can pick up some initial clients. This will give you the opportunity to see whether you enjoy working on your business, while also learning the ropes about what would be involved in running it full-time.
4. Research, research, research
While it’s great to have friends and family who are supportive of your ambitions, they may not be aware of the industry or potential pitfalls. Do your own market research to determine whether there’s enough demand for your business idea and whether it could be profitable. How big is your potential market? How would you differentiate your business? How will you price your product? Will people be willing to pay what you’re asking? What will your costs be?
5. Use the right technology
There are many online resources available to help you run a small business. One of the first things you’ll need is a way to keep track of your business expenses and invoices, and that’s where a mobile tool like QuickBooks Self-Employed can help. If you’re still tweaking your product, try surveying your customers and broader network with a tool like SurveyMonkey. Alternatively, use social media to tap into a variety of potential customers.
6. Set goals
Setting goals can help you decide the direction you want your new business to take. No matter what stage of transition you’re in, it’s always a good idea to establish some short and long-term objectives. These can be anything from getting your first client to establishing your own office or turning a profit. Regardless of what your goals are, they can clarify what you want to get out of your business and how to achieve it.
Turning your passion into your life’s work is a big step, but with some research and preparation you can ensure you’re ready to turn your dream into a reality.
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