Over the past year, many of us have developed new hobbies to keep ourselves occupied during quarantine. From brewing kombucha to building furniture, macrame to baking bread, people found joy in a wide range of activities — and may now be thinking of taking them to the next level.
They say if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life — but that doesn’t mean it’s effortless to go from hobbyist to business owner. If you’re thinking about going pro with a hobby, read on for our advice to help you transition successfully.
Depending on the type of business you’re interested in pursuing, there may be rules that you’ll need to follow in order to legally sell your product. Selling any consumable product, like baked goods or home-brewed beer, will be subject to more regulation than slinging cross-stitches or pottery. Doing the research should be your first step so that you understand from the get-go what limitations you’ll face and how to make your business compliant. These rules vary by state, so be sure to look up laws that are specific to your area.
Regardless of what you’re selling, you’ll also need to consult your state’s requirements for starting and operating a business, which you can find online. Think about how you’d like to legally structure your business, which will impact how you’ll pay taxes and more. The Small Business Administration has a wealth of resources to get you started, and it may also be helpful to consult with a lawyer. These steps aren’t fun, but getting them out of the way early on will let you focus on all the exciting parts to come.
Make sure to decide early on how much of a commitment you’re willing to make to your new venture. Are you launching a side hustle, or diving in full-time? Luckily, the ease of establishing an online business means that you can launch with very little overhead and slowly build up your clientele, while maintaining your primary source of income. Dipping your toe in will also give you a chance to make sure that you really love this hobby enough to devote a good chunk of your free time to it without feeling burnt out.
Creating a business plan will help you get a sense of where your break-even point is, and what milestones might indicate that you’re ready to move on to the next level — whether that’s quitting your day job or opening a brick-and-mortar location. Of course, these days, there’s no need to rush into establishing a storefront. By selling through online platforms and renting a virtual mailbox or private mailbox to manage your business correspondence, you can do just about everything from home until you’re confident that your income can support the added expenses of maintaining a physical presence for your business.
Okay, now it’s time for the fun part. Creating a brand will set you apart from other hobbyists and allow you to start attracting customers outside your circle of friends, family, and neighbors.
Begin by coming up with a unique name — ideally one that’s catchy or representative of your personality or your product. Then, have a graphic designer create a logo for you. If you already have an idea in your head, sketch it roughly and hand it off to a designer to bring your vision to life. If you have no idea what you want your logo to look like, that’s okay too. You can consult with your designer on what your product and target market are, discuss some design trends, and have them come up with an original design for you.
Once you have your name and logo, voila: your brand is born. Now, the more visible your brand is, the more your customers will remember it, seek it out, and recommend it to their friends. Branded packaging is a great way to ensure that your customers take home a tangible reminder of your business — and it’s inexpensive to create your own. Simply use stickers or a stamp to customize plain bags, boxes, tissue wrap, or even bottles.
Marketing your new business is essential to expanding your reach. Establish a social media presence and a website so that prospective customers can find out about you. Flyers or postcards can be effective as handouts if you sell at craft fairs or farmers markets, and if you’re running an ecommerce business, include them in the package when you ship your item to share more information about your brand or cross-sell other popular products.
It’s never been easier to start your own microbusiness and see where your hobby might take you — and your local PostNet center has your back every step of the way. From designing your logo to printing your marketing materials and managing your business mail, we help empower prospective business owners to make their dream a reality. Stop by your local center today and talk to us about your idea!