How to Make Your Hobby a Business
Step one: start a business
Step two: ???
Step three: Profit!
Whew! The age old question of how to turn your love of the your leather craft into a profitable business is one that so many of us has asked ourselves. Follow some of these simple, approachable ideas and see what kind of business you can create!
Leathercrafting is a hobby that you love, right? Will you still love it if it's not just a stress relieving, evening or weekend craft, but rather the method by which you pay your bills? Will you still want to grind the same way in six months when your bills still need to be paid? You must be committed in order to make an endeavor like this last! "Keep your day job...for a while" is a good approach! Make sure you're ready to make this leap!
Decide what your goals are. Consider using the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting method and make sure you have a clear vision of what your end game will be. Look at the next month, quarter, six months, year and beyond! Write your goals down somewhere you can refer to them frequently and easily. You may also want to share these with a close friend or family member to help keep you accountable.
DO SOME TESTING
Make sure the product you are planning to sell is well practiced and all the kinks and bugs have been found and worked through before marketing for sale. Make sure your process is well thought out and your tools and technology are ready to start producing consistently. In order to avoid chargebacks or returns, it is so important to be confident in the product you are producing.
WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN
Perhaps the most difficult, but also most important part of this process, this is a step that helps flesh out the ideas and also add focus to your plan. This plan will allow you to see a) the things you've already done and b) the things that are still on the roadmap. This will define your market, goals, costs and long-term milestones. This doesn't have to be as long as a novel and you can start creating it in stages, but laying out this plan is the key to success!
CREATE A SOCIAL PRESENCE
Post, post, post! Start sharing your product and business on social media sites. An estimated 87% of shoppers begin their product searches on digital channels, according to research from Salesforce and Publicis.Sapient in 2018. Building an online presence will be a huge step in the right direction forward with your business!
BUILD YOUR BRAND
Branding is a hugely important part of your business and your customer's ability to recognize your product. Create a business name and logo that will represent you and the vibe you want to create, something that speaks to the business personality and will look good cross platform. There are a lot of great free or super low cost services that can assist with this as well. Make sure you pick something you love- changing these elements of your business down the road can have a big negative impact!
DEVELOP A STRATEGY
With a stellar product and killer customer service cemented, now it's time to get out there and start selling! Developing a strategy to get your product noticed, how to market your items and how to snag new views is going to make or break your business. Start small and start scaling up as you go, making sure you are able to keep up with the growth rate you want to embody. Adjust and course correct as necessary, and make sure to check back in on this step regularly!
PICK YOUR MARKET
Choosing who you want to market your products to will be super important. This will help determine volume, pricing, community outreach, tone, among many other aspects of your overall business. There is a market for any and all types of leather crafting whether it's Western Chic or historical Renaissance style, making sure you are reaching toward the people who want to buy your wares will be crucial.
TRACK YOUR MONEY & LEGALITIES
Another key component in the business vs. hobby arena, tracking where your money is coming from and how you're spending it. Startup costs are a single step in a long road of cash flow, so looking at the simpler items like your profit and loss (PNL), cash flow statements, sales forecasts, labor costs, but also the more complex items like business ratios and break-even analysis. Tax write-offs, filing taxes, business licensing, among other items are also in this category that need to be regularly reviewed and well understood.
IN CONCLUSION (...AND FIND A MENTOR!)
There are a lot of arenas hobbyists want to consider before rolling out their new business. Take a thoughtful, mindful approach when deciding how to approach this change and reach out to other business owners, take classes, find a mentor! Use every opportunity and tool at your disposal to create your success, and always, stay crafty!