How to turn that hobby into a thriving business

The first plan in the entrepreneurial journey is to create a plan on how to monetise the hobby. FILE PHOTO | NMG
The first plan in the entrepreneurial journey is to create a plan on how to monetise the hobby. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Do you have a hobby that people line up for to buy from you? If so, you really could create a profitable business.

Hobbies that could potentially be monetised and turned into businesses include painting, woodworking, baking, web design, dog training -- literally anything that provides value to others. The problem is that many of us are afraid to take action, even when we know we have a marketable skill, because we are afraid of failure. We fear that if we attempt to monetise a hobby and fail, we’ll no longer feel joy or satisfaction from the activity at all or others will regard us differently.

This can be a scary proposition that may prevent many talented individuals from pursuing their dream. If this sounds familiar to you, then listen up. Trying to monetise a hobby isn’t easy, but on the other hand, it certainly isn’t rocket science. With a little preparation and strategic execution, you can enjoy a positive result. Here are a few tips:

1. Create a plan to begin monetising your hobby. This plan will obviously have to be tweaked along the way, but it’s worthwhile to have a strategy in place from the start. Start part-time and gradually shift into full-time work. Once you decide that starting a business is for you, there are many books that you can read to develop your plan

2. Start your business as a side hustle. You need to first test the waters while you are still employed to make sure you have a viable revenue model for your small business. You don’t mess around and lose your day job before you are ready to leave to pursue your business full-time.

3. Get your first sale. You don’t need to go from hobby to million-dollar business in a matter of days. Your number one goal in the beginning stages is to get your first sale. Whether that means making a Sh200 sale or signing a Sh20,000 retainer, your first sale is the hardest and most important you’ll ever make.
There are plenty of strategies for actually getting your first sale, but it all depends on the product or service you’re selling. If you’re selling a service, you may want to start by offering a free trial and generating some word of mouth. If it’s a product, good product placement and advertising in the right places can lead to a sale. Social media is especially powerful if you’re trying to reach the masses with minimal resources on hand.

While you may believe in your product, it’s important to remember that other people have no reason to believe in it. You haven’t proven yourself yet. Hustle hard for that first sale and then turn one sale into two, two into four and so forth.

4. Maximise your time. For most people, working a full-time job and then spending extra hours pursuing a hobby isn’t practical. Between kids, significant other, friends and social requirements, you simply don’t have enough hours in the day.
In the initial stages you’ll have to get creative about how you use your time. Perhaps you need to wake up an hour earlier than you’re used to and get some stuff done before your regular job.
Alternatively, it could mean involving your kids in your hobby so you can spend time with them while still accomplishing new things.

5. Build an online presence. In business today, everybody needs an online presence to generate activity. This means creating and maintaining a website, social media profiles, and everything else that goes into branding yourself as a professional. Keeping consistency in the way you present yourself will give you a more established image, which in turn will result in more fans. Spend time on at least one social media site to gain insights about your target customer. Use your downtime to do Internet research for sourcing vendors and suppliers and to confirm your target market.

6. Network A few people will stumble across you online, but a lot of business success happens via word of mouth and networking. You have to be prepared to be active on this side of self-promotion, as well. Start networking like it’s a new job. Reach out to all your contacts from college and any business associates to update your contact database

7. Do a Self-Assessment. Do you have the energy and stamina to crank out your hobby in volume enough to make it a viable business? Make sure you don’t ruin something that brings you joy. People pursue hobbies to blow off steam.
If you add a lot of pressure, you could blow your stack. Do your research to make sure there’s a paying customer before you bet the farm on your hobby. Successful businesses require dedicated work and responsibility. It’s easy to take the fun out of your hobby if you do not plan well.

8. Figure Out How to Stand Out. It is very difficult for small businesses to compete on price. You must clearly identify your niche customer and spend some time developing a signature product or signature services. Anyone will buy something once. How will you get them to buy it over and over again from you?