The internet has been many things, but one of the lesser known of those is as wonderful place for people to showcase their skills. Whether it’s the cool viral video of someone balancing a coin on their nose, a website dedicated to the advanced ins and outs of crocheting or an amateur carpentry hobbyist selling some home made chairs on eBay – the web has made it clear there are many talented people online.
These days you can make a hobby or skill pay off, or at least give it a good chance of doing so, almost exclusively online. So, we ask the question is forming a company a good way to make your hobby pay?
When you choose your package and form your business with Company Formation MadeSimple you are very much on your way to finding out, as we provide many additional pieces of information and support post-formation. This gives you the best chance of success, but to answer the question more deeply we will have to get into a little bit more detail.
First Off – Who Has Done It Already?
One of the best ways to determine whether something is worth doing is looking at the results of those who have come before you. So, let’s take a look at some of the hobbyists who’ve made their passion into a business, and how well they have fared.
Cambridge Satchel Company
Well, it seems this company can’t get enough attention. We always seem to be talking about it as one of the best examples of a small owner-operated business making it big, and it really is a great story – it really shows the potential of a good idea.
The mother-daughter team of Julie Deane and Freda Thomas came up with the idea in 2008, and it’s pretty much gone better than they could possibly have hoped. Melanie Rickey wrote for The Guardian in 2011 that they have “become a cult among twenty-something fashion bloggers”.
This has led to “pre-tax profits of £5m on sales of £13m” as Zoe Wood reported for The Guardian in 2014. It’s a success story, but reaching that level takes a lot of work – and probably a little bit of luck too. Still, it’s amazing to see what’s possible when trying to make a small hobby or skill pay.
Craig Jenkins-Sutton just loved gardens so much that he started designing them – without any training, by the way. It didn’t seem to matter though, as soon after posting an ad in a local paper his designs were in demand.
According to their website Jenkins-Sutton “set about to beautify the Chicagoland area. After two years of successful design and installations on his own, Craig acquired a new truck, and Sara, his wife, joined Topiarius as co-owner”.
Now with revenue at over $1.2 million according to a report from editor Jane Porter at Entrepreneur.com in 2012 it’s clear to see there are huge amounts of possibilities – even if you don’t have training. This example is an interesting one as it shows progress over a number of years and is a more typical case of a business building up gradually.
The Toy Hunter
There was once a man who was so young at heart he could not resist toys. It was a lifetime hobby passion that became a huge business. Jordan Hembrough built his toy business as a lover of all things toy related.
His enthusiasm was so infectious that not only was he able to sell valuable toys and collectibles, he also got a reality show out of it. With his show Toy Hunter on the Quest channel, Jordan goes through attics and storage spaces looking for hidden toy treasures. Turning a hobby into a business usually means you have a higher level of enthusiasm for your cause. So, you might just be worthy of a reality show.
Here’s an example of just what can happen when you make your hobby into a business. It might not be something you expect.
How Do I Do It?
It’s all well and good telling you about the success stories. But how do you actually make the business in the first place? Well, here are some tips:
- Develop A Business Plan – A hobby business is still a business – so you will need a sound business plan to help develop ideas and determine the viability of your product, whatever that might be. Logos, company names and websites are good to think about here.
- Form Your Company – The first step to making your hobby a business is actually forming a company. Whether that’s a UK limited company or a sole trader, it doesn’t matter as long as you take the plunge and start.
- Build It – Business is all about building something for the future, and that takes hard work and putting your business plan in action exactly as it should. You can also have a look at what grants are available. There are interesting private and public funding options worth assessing.
Remember that if you work on turning a hobby into a business you probably won’t be dumping the day job right away. It’s gradual, and it builds up over time in most cases. Speaking to business reporter Tony Bonsignore of the BBC in 2014 entrepreneur Alice Barrow said “We started three or four years ago from our kitchen table” and that’s really where most businesses will stay for the initial stages of the business.
It’s also worth pointing out that you will probably be testing the water for a while. If you have a look at the market and need to rethink, you can do so. If you’ve got a good business idea it might need tweaking as things progress.
How To Succeed
When you’ve got a small business or one that you work on part time it can be difficult to know how to do well. There are a lot of considerations that can help you in the success of your business, but here are some good tips that are good for hobby businesses:
- Be Passionate – It’s difficult making a hobby pay, so you really need to be keen on it. It’s a labour of love – and you’re not likely to start earning millions right away. In the early days it will most likely just supplement your existing income, so you need to be sure that you’re enthusiastic or you might find it tempting to slack off a bit.
- Be Original – Your idea needs to have your unique stamp on it. Whether you’re sewing scarves or chiselling sculptures, there needs to be a high level of originality within your business for a higher chance of success.
- Be Honest – Your honesty as a small business is important, you need to show some humility to your customers by saying that you’re trying to make a product that is authentic and reflects you as a person – not just as a business.
Tony Bonsignore of the BBC talked to Simon Devonshire (serial entrepreneur and notable ‘entrepreneur-in-residence’ at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) in 2014 who said “I think it’s the same whether you are the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, or you’re trying create the next Facebook. You essentially need to identify what problem you are trying to solve”. This shows the attitude you should aspire to for success.
Overall, your business will rise or fall based on the demand of the market – so you need to get out there and start selling your product as soon as possible, whatever that may be. If you don’t your hobby will remain just that, and not make the transition into a business.
Hobbies & Business Making Entrepreneurs
You might not have even considered making your hobby into a business, but the reality is that a lot of it can be achieved through hard work and determination – and you can at least find out whether it’s possible. So, if you’re ready – form your company and discover what’s possible.