It’s one thing to have a side gig that you do all on your own, it’s another to turn it into a legitimate business. Especially if other people are going to be involved. But don’t stress, there are several things you can do to help your business thrive during this next step in your journey to success.
To help you get started, here are a few of my top tips for turning your hobby into a sustainable business:
Invest in Marketing
One of the most important things any business owner can do is to invest in marketing. Fortunately, today’s marketing avenues are much more accessible to small business owners. It’s all about choosing your course of action wisely.
But how do you do that? First, you need to figure out who your audience is, and where you’d most realistically reach them. If you’re targeting a younger audience, you’re likely going to want to focus on your online presence. However, if you’re a local shop in a small town that’s home to mostly seniors, that’s probably not your best bet. But don’t underestimate the power of old-fashioned community networking.
Whether it’s paid ads on a social site, flyers to put up at local shops, or a wrap for your car, marketing your business is never a waste. Just make sure you pace yourself to fit your budget. Customer acquisition shouldn’t bankrupt your business but it is a critical expense.
Hire the Right People
It might sound cliché, but employees can really make or break your business. While it might seem easy to hire friends of friends or even the first good fit you find off Craigslist, you might be kicking yourself later if you don’t do your due diligence.
And no, I don’t mean simply stalking their social media accounts. Doing a legitimate background check can provide you with the peace of mind that you’ve hired someone trustworthy to help you make your dream a reality.
Have a Clear Business Plan
Taking your business to the next level, and maintaining that growth requires a well-developed plan. Scalability is key to sustaining a healthy business, so think about how you can keep up with your customers’ expectations as far as quality and demand. A few things to consider when creating your business plan include:
- Develop a clearly defined brand
- Your long-term goals for your business
- Potential expenses that might arise as you expand
- How much help you’ll need as well as when and how to hire new employees
- What might need to change about your products or services
- Where you’ll get capital from to continue running your business
Of course, this is just a starting point. It’s important to keep in mind that a business plan will most likely be required for any type of official financing, so it’s best to have one established as early on as possible.
If you can, look into ways you can cut costs without compromising any quality. An intelligent shipping software for e-commerce businesses that streamlines shipping out orders may be a smart move on your part. You save so much on retail rates, and it delivers items to clients quickly, whether you’re shipping a package a day or twenty in a week.
Keep It Professional
Even if your business is small, there’s a huge benefit to keeping as professional as possible at all times. That means separate personal and business bank accounts, tracking expenses, and acting appropriately with your colleagues (even if they are your close friends). As your business grows, so does the risk of complications.
You want to make sure that you manage your business professionally from the get-go to protect yourself and set a precedent for how things are to be handled in the future. On that note, it’s also important to get any insurance you might need like liability or personal injury insurance.
To make your business official, you’ll also need to register it. Depending on the structure of your business you might be categorized as an LLC, partnership, or sole proprietorship, so make sure to do your research first. You’ll also likely to need to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) if you’re going to have employees. But don’t worry, it’s actually a really simple process.
If you’re ready to go from having a simple source of passive income to running a sustainable business, starting with these 4 tips will get you moving in the right direction. Just keep in mind that every business is different so you’ll need to tailor these recommendations to fit your business model and culture.