Ivana is passionate about travel, writing, photography and website design. She enjoys helping people start a new business and turn their hobby into a profitable venture. Visit Ivana at www.web4business.com.au
Published May 16th 2012
Perhaps you enjoy baking, cake decorating, making jewellery or you play soccer on the weekend or even grow herbs in your garden. Have you ever thought of turning your hobby into a profitable business? If you have, but dismissed the idea because you don't have enough time, marketing skills or money to make it a viable business, don't give up just yet.
Many successful businesses have started as weekend hobbies and your passion can quite easily turn into a part time business and later full time business. I won't lie and say that it will happen over night, but if you do a little each weekend, before you know it you will be on your way.
Here are some ideas for potential businesses:
Cake/Cookie baking for local cafes and restaurants
Teaching kids how to play soccer / netball / tennis / surfing / skateboarding Jewellery making or teaching Candle making Film making
Book writing Plants / flower / herb growing and selling Teaching photography / dancing / sailing / knitting / pottery to adults
Event planning and organising
Writing for Weekend Notes and other online publications
Being a tour guide
The first thing you need to do is research whether anybody would be interested in your products/services. And I mean doing the research beyond your family and friends. Of course your mum will tell you that it's a brilliant idea and that she believes you will succeed, but she may not be your target market.
The easiest way to do research is to do it online via free survey software, such as SurveyMonkey. Simply set up a survey and send a link to all your networks including friends and colleagues or anybody else that falls within your potential target market.
If you find there is enough demand for your service, then it's time to take the next step and set up a website. A website won't cost you much money, but will help you portray a professional business image and you can easily do more testing to see which of your products / services are more popular and then focus on offering more of those.
You can create your website using free or inexpensive online web design software, but for most people this can be a challenge – not only because of the technical nature of the task, but also because of time restraints. It is far better for you to invest a small amount of money and get a professional website designer to do that for you. That way your website will not only look good, but also function properly.
There are a few things you need to consider when setting up a website.
1. Your domain name – the purpose of a domain name is similar to that of a street address or telephone number. The domain name directs customers to your website. It is a good idea to have some keywords that people may use to search for your business, for example kidssoccerclasses.com.au or divinebracelets.com.au
3. Remember when you are online you are competing against thousands and even millions of other businesses and proving your credibility is one of the most important things you need to consider. Unfortunately most first time entrepreneurs make a huge mistake by concentrating all their efforts on driving traffic to their website but fail to prove their credibility. You need to show your potential customers that you are trustworthy, reliable and that you will deliver what you promise. Here are some ways you can accomplish this;
(a) Provide testimonials from happy customers. If you don't have any yet, give away your product/service in return for feedback.
(b) If appropriate, show before and after shots. Pictures do speak a thousand words.
(c) Showcase your products being used by other people in a photo gallery.
(d) Offer a money back guarantee and take the risk out of doing business with you for your customers.
(e) Include details of any trade association memberships.
(f) If your business has been featured in the media – on the internet, TV, newspaper or radio make sure you include the details.
(g) If you sell products online or allow people to pay you via your website, include details of your website security, such as the encryption that is used when they enter confidential information.
(h) Show off any awards you have won.
(i) And most importantly don't forget to include your contact information and details about you and your business.
Getting online can seem like an overwhelming task, but if you get a professional website designer, your business can be online within a very short time. One company that specialises in websites for small businesses is Websites 4 Small Business. They have lots of information about getting your business online as well as marketing and promotion – check out their website at www.web4business.com.au and head to their resource/ article section. They are very affordable and can get your website up and running within about 7 days.
So if you have thought of turning your hobby into something more, stop hesitating and start moving! You will never know until you try and really, what's the worst that can happen?