You began making those luxurious body creams and beautifully scented candles for a reason; what was it? Relaxation? Meaningful gifts? A creative outlet? Probably all of the above and more, right?
And now you not only enjoy the outcome of your creative prowess but select friends and family members feel quite fortunate to garner the benefits these decadent treats. You never planned on it, but now you’re thinking, why not go big and spread a little happiness to people everywhere? Why not make it an official business?
This decision is all fine and well, but you’ll want to be as prepared as possible for the challenges that most certainly lie ahead. Begin by asking yourself these five questions to position the reality of entrepreneurship versus hobbyist more clearly in your mind.
1. Will I enjoy the process when it’s dictated by a deadline, rather than my own timeframe?
People seek out a hobby as a creative outlet, a leisurely activity to bring about relaxation and fulfillment. But there’s nothing leisurely about being a small business owner where you’re no longer involved in an ongoing art project, but rather the production of certain items that need to be churned out on a regular basis. Right now, heading for the basement to see what your creative efforts will bring about may feel good to you; it may even be an outlet for your stress. When your schedule is based on consumer demand, rather than your mood, how will it feel to you?
2. Will I enjoy doing this under the pressure of financial demands?
There are many expenses involved in growing your hobby into a business. You may have to quit your job, hire a childcare provider, and rent space. Funds must be allocated to the purchase bulk supplies, build a website, and sales and marketing efforts. When money is going into the business and there’s not enough coming back out, it’s incredibly stressful. There’s a difference, psychologically, between doing something for fun and doing it because if you don't you won't be able to pay your bills.
If you want to turn your hobby into a business because you think it's going to be fun, you could be in for a surprise. The financial pressure, along with time pressures, will change the experience altogether. Not to say there’s no fun at all in running a business, but it’s a very different kind of fun.
3. Is this hobby my outlet for relaxation?
It’s likely that your hobby will no longer have that relaxing effect that you look forward to. There are certainly other rewards, but relaxation will not be one of them. You’ll have to find another outlet for your stress. And, you’ll have to know how to balance your time to enjoy that outlet.
4. Am I ready to become a CEO—amongst many other things?
What most “technicians” turned entrepreneurs don’t know is—well, what they don’t know! You are a gifted artisan and you probably have no doubt about your skill and ability to create a product that others will love—and pay for. As an entrepreneur there will be many, many more hats to wear, beyond that of an artisan. In fact, in an ideal world you won’t even be the person making the product in the future; employees will do that work. Do you know how to balance your books, market your company, master social media, set appointments with retailers, and the many other jobs that an entrepreneur is tasked with? If not, are you prepared to devote the time and effort into learning?
5. Am I willing to become a sales person?
You probably do well at the craft fairs; perhaps a local shop or two stock your products. At this point in the game your products probably sell themselves. As you grow beyond the small fairs, where people are there to buy exactly what you have to offer, the ability to acquire customers and get the attention of distribution outlets will determine the success or failure of your business. Do you have, or are you willing to develop, the tenacity and persistence of a great sales person? Your skill set will have to shift from that of the creative to those of a marketer and relationship builder for your business to thrive.
Okay, now that I’ve thoroughly discouraged you—there’s something else you need to know. All of the growing pains, uncertainty, letdowns, and pressure to develop skills and talents that are not always innate, don’t deter a true entrepreneur from pursuing his or her dreams. Most entrepreneurs look back over the years and say it’s worth every bit of it. But there’s something they wish they would have done differently: learn from others’ mistakes instead of making so many of their own. Coaches, mentors, business articles and podcasts, and books written by successful leaders must be in your arsenal. Take every opportunity to learn from the mistakes that entrepreneurs before you have made. Because, accidental or not, every entrepreneur deserves a chance to succeed.