Business 101

You can monetize on almost every hobby, skill, or talent if you want to. What can be better than making money and having fun doing something you are good at and enjoy? Just be aware you’ll need to learn a few serious business skills to be successful and I recommend starting off slow and getting a vetted business mentor. Here is my advice on how to monetize on something you love:

1.    Pick a Speciality. Write down a hobby you love and are pretty good at. It can be something your friends or family maybe even compliment you on.

2.    Research. Google your hobby online to figure out how people are monetizing on it, how popular the services are (supply and demand), if they even exist, as well as who is offering them, and if you can, the price range they charge. You can find quite a bit of free information online if you know how to research. Input your findings into a spreadsheet.

3.    Follow Niche Leaders. Follow all the people working professionally in your field on relevant social media platforms. Start interacting with their content and join any groups they belong to, if you can find out. Maybe even introduce yourself if you see a creative way to do so. Who knows? One of them may become your next mentor.

4.    Brand Identity. Do you want to use your own name or a fictitious business name? Be careful to research first that the name is not already taken and would accommodate any growth. If you can afford to, hire a logo designer and/or a design consultant. It is important to be consistent with your brand across all platforms. There are definitely some strong guidelines here what to do vs. what not to do.

5.    Basic Business Plan. Create a business plan. You can find templates online. It should include a good description of your products and services, who your target audience is who your competitors are, why you think your brand is competitive, what kind of see capital (cash) you would need to invest to get up and running and approximately how long it will take before you will start monetizing and getting an ROI. This part really depends on what you are trying to do. Example: If you are a DJ, maybe you’d need to borrow, rent, or buy turntables. If you are an editor, maybe you decide to develop a writing program and ecourses, so you’ll need to find an online platform for courses and payments and possibly hire a video editor to help too. Decide how you will finance these expenses and when you expect to be making money. I highly recommend starting off by bootstrapping your hustle and not giving up your day job until your side hustle revenue exceeds your regular income and you have a consistent pipeline of inquiries and leads.

 6.    Hire a Business Mentor. Unless you have an MBA, I strongly feel you will save yourself many mistakes and possibly thousands of dollars if you hire a reputable mentor upfront for guidance. Pick someone in your niche market who has built one or multiple successful businesses and worked in that industry for at least 5 years (and can prove it).

7.    Legal Setup. Create a business entity. It can be a sole proprietorship or an LLC (or other) but do it with the right guidance if it is your first business: get a legal consultation. You can find affordable services online or at your local chamber of commerce. Here in California I can set up a business online in less than 5 minutes for minimal fees.

8.    Marketing. Register your website with your business domain name if you plan on having a website (recommended). Make sure you completed step 4 to avoid surprises. Decide where and how to market your business. Maybe you will have a website and strong presence on all major social media platforms as well as paid directories and Google SEO support. Or maybe an Instagram presence is enough for your business. You may do it all yourself or you may decide to hire a marketing expert. You'll also need a CRM and Email Software to build and manage your leads and client databases. And don't forget privacy policies! Know your laws. Hire a Marketing expert if any of this sounds confusing.

9.    Finances. Figure out where and how you will sell your products and services and how you will process payments. Get a CPA and open a business bank account. You may want to get a credit card processing service as well like bank merchant services or Stripe or PayPal. You’ll also need some invoicing software. Cool thing about owning a business is that you can deduct a lot of your expenses!

10. Customer Service. How do you want people to contact you? You need to consider email, phone, and SMS. And maybe a physical location. Draft a plan so communications flow easily and hassle-free. I highly recommend going the professional route with a pro email and phone number and a business address. Work from home? No problem! Get VOIP and pay for a local business address. I recommend automating as much as possible your customer experience so you never miss an email and answer inquires quickly. Or get a VA.

11. Insurance. Don’t make the mistake of forgetting insurance! Yes, you always need it if you are selling any products or services. During your business mentor, legal, or CPA consultations, ask for advice and recommendations which insurance carriers to connect to. A good insurance agent will get you set up with all the coverage needed for your business.

12. Network! Once you're all set up, start getting the word out to everyone. Your friends and family and community will all want you to succeed so maybe your first clients are already there by default. Use offline and online opportunities to share what you do. Remember: serve, not sell.

13. Keep on Learning. You can never know everything about your niche market. By reading business books, following leaders' blogs, attending conferences, and taking classes, you will always stay on the cutting edge of your industry. Plus, it's good for you!

14. Work on the Business, Not in the Business. Make sure the side hustle doesn't turn into a nightmare by deciding when and how long you will work on it daily or weekly. Schedule every activity and prioritize equally non-hustle activities like family time, self-care time, and friends and partner time. This will avoid burnout. A good business mentor can teach you how.

15. Questions? Anything other business owners want to add to this list? Let me know in the comments what other advice you'd give someone turning a hobby into a side hustle. We live in a gig economy and it never hurts to have multiple revenue streams. No job is truly stable. Maybe your side hustle will save you from unemployment someday. Please reach out to me if you'd like more information. Most importantly, have fun!

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