Do you have a hobby or talent which people love? Often arts and crafts, cooking, baking, gardening a love of writing, computer skills or photography interests etc can be upscaled to the next level in order to become a lucrative career. Hobbies are lovely way to spend our spare time, but what do you do with all those fabulous creations once they are complete? More often than not they are given away to friends and family. If you find that your donations are gratefully received or you begin to get orders for more, it may be that you should start charging! When you consider the time, money and effort put into the creative process, gaining some monetary reward only seems fair. If you are able to create something to a high quality saleable standard, put your talents to good use and start selling your products or service!
Often it’s fear which holds back people from making the next step. Starting a new business can be daunting as there is so much paperwork and red tape to contend with. Funding can also be an issue, as moving up to the next level will require more financial investment in order to update equipment, buy materials and ingredients and produce marketing materials. If you wish to start small in order to test the market before launching on a larger scale you could consider securing a personal loan from Bonsai Finance who are available to assist, even if you have a poor credit score. Other sources of funding could be from savings, credit cards or friends and family.
Imagine how fantastic your work/life balance would be if your “day job” was doing something that you love and are passionate about! There are many resources available online and often workshops are run in local areas aimed at helping out first time business owners. Most of these resources are free, so take advantage of them.
To give your new business the best possible chance within the market place there are certain steps which require careful consideration. The following guide will help you through the process.
Identify your target market
Up to now you have received positive feedback on the quality of your products or service, but it’s important to remember that this feedback is likely to be quite biased. Friends and family have a tendency to be kind in their comments and may be reluctant to point out any negative aspects for fear of upsetting you. It’s therefore important to look at the wider picture by getting feedback from people you don’t know, who are within your target market. To gain useful feedback you firstly need to know who your target market is. Are you producing products directed towards mums with young children, teenagers or young professionals? Once you know who your products would appeal to, you need to conduct market research in order to gain positive and negative feedback. The feedback will allow you to tweak products as necessary as well as it will give you an idea as to whether your products are actually saleable. Market research techniques could include surveys, questionnaires, focus groups or just getting your products “out there”.
Once you have made the decision to start a new business in selling your products or service it’s time to draw up a business plan. It’s really important not to skip this step as it’s when you will work out costs, timescales and when to expect profits. It is normal to make a loss in profit initially, but at some point it will be important to make a profit to ensure your business remains viable. Your business plan will also be able to help you identify if your profits are likely to be seasonal, which is particularly relevant if you are creating products for the gift market. You may have months during the year with low sales, but hopefully seasonal events such as Christmas should allow for this.
Make everything legal
There are many health and safety laws and regulations related to any product which is sold to the general public. This is even more stringent if your products are aimed towards being used by children or it is related to food. Research carefully your niche and ensure you meet all guidelines. You may require training in food hygiene and it’s possible that your premises will be inspected before you are deemed safe for selling to the public. Check out the laws related to where you live as they can vary considerably. Ensure you register your business with the necessary bodies and declare yourself as being self employed.
Ensure you also get all the necessary insurances. Insurance is essential as it protects yourself as well as the general public
Make and sell!
This is the more pleasurable part of the process, once all the essentials have been completed it’s time to get making your products in order to sell. There’s no business if you don’t have stock! If your business involves offering a service such as PC repair you will need to concentrate on marketing yourself. Create marketing materials which clearly identifies the skills you are offering and promote yourself – everywhere! It will be important to have a good online presence which features highly on internet search engines and consider using social media to advertise your services.
Once you have some “stock”, it’s time to get selling. Consider which selling outlet is relevant for your style of product. Examples could include your website, selling sites, pop up shops, market stall, craft fayres or you could see if a shop owner will stock your products for a fee. Don’t forget the power of social media as there are thousands of customers at your fingertips. Use lots of marketing avenues rather than sticking to one or two, this will ensure your products are seen by more people. Let people see and feel the quality of your products and word of mouth will go a long way.
It won’t be long before you can give up your current job and work doing something you love!