What does it take to turn a hobby into a business? For many, the very idea can be daunting. Yet just as any journey begins with a single step, so too does the union between personal and professional fulfillment.
Starting a business will require complete dedication from all business owners regardless of gender, but a number of specific opportunities cater to women in particular. Women-owned businesses have, by the way, grown by 74% between 1997 and 2015, according to the American Express Open 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. So now is a great time to turn your hobby into a business.
Here are four ways to begin to pursue your hobby professionally:
1. Educate Yourself
Learn as much as you can about your particular field. Subscribe to trade publications, check out books from the local library, and read blogs. Not only are you expanding your knowledge base within your field, but by planting these “research seeds” early on, you give yourself an edge.
Who knows what you will learn that will allow you to enhance the product or service that you offer and separate you from a competitor. Lay a strong foundation for the transition from hobby to business by first being knowledgeable about your field.
2. Contact Your Local Business Development Organization
The website of the Small Business Administration is a great place to start. With at least one district office in every state and the District of Columbia, this government agency provides support to small business owners and entrepreneurs.
It offers tips on topics such as crafting business plans, securing loans, choosing a business structure, filing taxes, and contracting programs for women-owned small businesses. Also, doing a simple Google search with the terms “small business+(state where you reside)” will yield a surprising number of results.
3. Surround Yourself with Like-Minded Entrepreneurs
Does a meet-up group exist specifically geared toward your hobby, or more broadly, toward entrepreneurs in the early phases of their businesses? Meetup.com is a great place to find individuals with common business interests in particular cities.
From Startup Grind in Charleston to SmartSuccess Business Network of Seattle, networking groups exist everywhere. Also, local chambers of commerce have networking events with local businesses that have established themselves in their communities.
4. Lean in to Programs Geared toward Women
Sometimes, it’s easy to feel guilty when a particular program caters to you, as if you’re at a disadvantage or something. Maybe you feel like you don’t deserve it and should be treated “equally”—however you define the term. Yet when women own 30% of businesses while making up half of the US population, and in sum, account for 4% of annual business revenue, maybe it makes sense to specifically target a group to improve the numbers (Source: American Express Open 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report).
So don’t feel guilty checking out the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, or a local organization geared toward women business owners. And then pay it forward by encouraging the next generation—male and female—to determine their own paths by starting businesses.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Every business must chart its own path, as guided by the entrepreneur at its helm. What this list does provide is a starting point for any individual who is interested in doing more with her hobby and wants to pursue it professionally. Use these tips to take the first steps towards turning your hobby into a business to call your own.
About the Author
Obinna Morton is a freelance writer based in Atlanta. She works with a number of small businesses to create compelling content for their companies. She has written for Startup Atlanta, V&L Research and Consulting, and Allied Logistics and has also been published in Living Northside magazine.