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Turn passion into profit

Chances are you have hobbies and passions outside of your day job that give you a sense of purpose and joy you don’t always find at work. Maybe you’ve even considered turning one of your passions into a business…but are unsure whether you could do it. You’re not alone. According to a study by Vistaprint, while 27% of adults have turned a hobby into a side business, 55% want to but haven’t yet taken the leap.

If you’re part of that 55% and are ready to take the leap, here are seven tips to get you started.

1. Do your research

The first step is making sure there’s a market for what you want to sell. See if your current hobby or passion is something that’s currently available and where gaps may exist. Focus on who you want to serve and what problem you can fix for your target customer. You’re already at an advantage if your passion offers something others don’t. There’s always space at the table, so don’t be dissuaded by competitors in your market.

2. Build your online presence

With many people turning to social media and Google for product searches and reviews, your brand’s online presence is invaluable. Ensure that your social platforms are cohesive and consistent with the same branding (e.g., color, logo, font), and keep things simple by focusing on the platforms best suited for your business.

Do you offer professional services? LinkedIn may be the best fit for you. Do you create handmade charcuterie boards that you want to sell on Etsy? Instagram and Facebook may serve you best. Consistency is key, so make a plan to post regularly on all channels, whether once a week or twice a day.

3. Put it to the test

Before you fully commit to your passion-based business, it’s best to make sure there’s a demand for your product or service. Ask your social media followers or connections to pre-order from you. You could do this by having them fill out a Google Form or asking them to direct message you with their order or service request.

If you get the number of requests you were hoping for, then it’s time to open your business to all. If not, you may need to change your offering or tweak messaging or pricing to gain more interest. Testing the waters will give you an idea of how your business will perform before going all in.

4. Stay organized with a plan

If you’ve put your passion to the test and garnered enough interest, your next step is to outline a business plan. Determine how often you’ll work on your business, ways to market your passion and—most important—identify a realistic budget. Set achievable goals and reevaluate consistently to see how your business progresses.

5. Figure out your finances

As tempting as it may be to buy everything you need for your passion, set realistic expectations. Understand your finances before you begin and identify the costs of starting your business. Take the time to research the costs of materials and labor (i.e., your own time) and any shipping costs you may incur if your passion includes tangible goods. Set a budget—and stick to it. Remember to start small. Buy materials as needed until you generate a consistent income from selling your passion.

6. Look at the long term

Don’t forget that for most people, success doesn’t just happen overnight. If you create your Instagram profile and first post, don’t be disappointed if you don’t gain thousands of followers overnight. Creating a business means starting small and being consistent...and patient—even through challenging moments. Make a long-term plan for where you want your business to go.

Start by selling one or two products or services; once they gain traction, add another service. Don’t overwhelm yourself (or your potential customers) with too many options right out of the gate. When you start small, you can focus on improvements you may need to make.

7. Ask for help

Remember that it’s OK to ask for help when you need it. If you have friends or family who own their own businesses, turn to them for advice. Check into local entrepreneurial communities for assistance, too. Many business owners live by the mantra, “Community over competition.” You never know—one day, you may be the person who can help another passionate person get started with their own small business.

Don’t quit your day job (yet)

While you may be ready to dive headfirst into your passion-based business, it’s best not to kick the 9-to-5 to the curb just yet. You may experience longer workdays or less free time when you start your new business, but as Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

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