Turning a Hobby into a Home-Based Business
Some of the best home-based business success stories come from people who have turned their hobbies into lucrative careers. There are many different hobbies that can translate into a successful home-based business, with the most common being handcrafted objects such as quilts, scented candles, and handknit sweaters. And while the Internet has made it possible for many people to find success doing what they love, there are many traditional routes to market crafts as well.
Before you rush off to open your own business, however, you will need to consider several things to make sure that your hobby will translate into success.
1. How many companies are already selling a similar product? If the market is inundated, you will have a more difficult time carving out your niche. You will need to see if there are ways that you can do the same thing more efficiently or offer them at a better price before you meet with failure.
2. You need to be aware of certain tax implications that you may be facing. If your hobby is merely a way to make a little extra money on the side, do not plan on deducting expenses or using the loss to offset other income.
If you intend to turn your hobby into a profitable venture, you need to show a "profit motive" in order to deduct expenses and any losses you may encounter as you are starting your business. The IRS has specific guidelines that you should familiarize with as part of your business planning process.
3. You need to develop distribution channels for your items. EBay has offered many hobbyists an opportunity to sell their products to people all over the world. If you can create something useful, chances are you can sell it on eBay. Read Setting Up a Home-Based eBay Business.
However, eBay is not the only place where you can successfully market your creations. Many hobbyists have found that trunk shows or flea markets in their areas are a great way to get started. There are several stationary flea markets that are now offering permanent benches for hobbyists where their products are displayed continuously.
If you are not sure how to begin selling your products at these shows or markets, get in touch with the organizers of each event. You will need to rent a booth or a table. Each flea market or trunk show may have different arrangements or requirements, so make sure that you give yourself enough time to get ready for a new event.
You can also contact local businesses, such as antique stores, beauty salons, consignment stores, craft boutiques, or bookstores for possible product placement agreements. Normally, this will require some sort of commission on the items that are sold from these venues, but this is a fantastic way to display your products to a wide variety of people.
It is easy to glorify the fun you will have making money from something that you love. Remember that there is much more to running a business than your craft alone. You need a sound business mind and energy to burn to market and sell your goods. If you are realistic about the process and are able to find the right niche market for your products, you will be well on your way to turning a sideline into a full-time lucrative career.
Read Frank Ross' "The Home-Based Business Blog" on AllBusiness.com for tips and reinforcement as you build your new business.
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