Turn Your Part-Time Passion Into A Full-Time Business

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Every day I speak to aspiring entrepreneurs who are trying to turn their hobbies and part-time passions into lucrative businesses. When talking to them, I get the same questions over again: How do I start my business? What steps should I take as a new entrepreneur? What resources are available to me? Etc…

While there are many ways to start a business, here are 10 steps that aspiring entrepreneurs must take to lay the foundation for long-term success.

Start Your Business Using These Ten Steps:

1. Analyze why you want to be an entrepreneur
Take time to understand your personal motivation, so you can set up the business structure that works best for you. If your motivation is to have more time with your family, then structure your company around a 4-day workweek. If your motivation is to make money fast, then focus your business around high-priced products/services and keep your overhead low. Understanding your motivation is critical in making sure that you run your business, instead of letting your business run you.

2. Assess the demand for your service/product
Regardless of how incredible you think your products and services are, you don’t have a business unless other people want your goods, too. Get a clear picture of who really wants what you are selling. Who are they? Where do they live? Who currently supplies their need for that product/service? Make sure there is room for you to be competitive in the market. And, don’t spend your energy trying to be all things to all people. Cater to your most obvious customers, so you can win them over, and keep them coming back.

3. Be realistic about your earning potential
Regardless of how great your idea is the money won’t start pouring in right away. You have to make sure you have enough money and resources to invest in your business and to sustain yourself for months after you launch. Crunch your numbers and make sure your business venture can really get you the lifestyle you want for yourself.

4. Think about what you need to pull it off
Will you need a business partner or a team to help you operate the business? Do you have access to the contacts you need? Where will you get your inventory from? How will you distribute your products to your audience. Before you jump into a new business, think through your idea to make sure you have (or know where to get) the resources you need to bring your idea to life.

5. Research companies with similar products/customers
Check out companies and entrepreneurs have successfully done what you’re trying to do. Study their business model. Pay attention to how they connect with their audience, how they structure their organization, and what kind of team they have in place to get it all done each day. Look at how they branded their company, and get ideas as to how you can make your business bigger and better than the existing companies in your market. Save yourself time and money by improving upon what already exists instead of starting from scratch.

6. Prepare your business plan
This is the grunt work that creative entrepreneurs like to bypass. But, it’s important for you to finish your business plan. It will give you a chance to think through the logistics of how your business will work, how it will make money, and how you’ll reach your audience. Before you invest in your business idea, write a plan to help you focus your time and resources around specific business goals.

7. Talk to a trusted mentor about your idea
After your business plan is complete share it with a trusted mentor to get feedback and tips on how to put your plan in action. If you don’t have a mentor to turn to, go to your local SBA or SCORE office to meet with a free business advisor. They can help you perfect your plan and flush out your next steps.

8. Make your business legit
At this point you’ll be ready to make your business official. This is when you really start to invest in your business. You’ll have to get incorporated, get your business licenses, get your tax ID number, get your merchant account, and your business bank account. You’ll want to work with a lawyer and an accountant to get the formalities of your business in working order, before you get to the fun stuff.

9. Create your brand identity
Think about your logo, your signature colors, your tagline, your brand personality, and the experience your audience will have when they encounter your business. What should your packaging, your business cards and your office look like? Will you brand yourself as the face of the company, or will you work behind the scenes and market your business instead? As you build your brand find the balance between being authentic to yourself and attractive to the audience you’re trying to reach.

10. Establish partnerships for your business
You’ll drive yourself crazy if you try to do everything yourself. Create strategic partnerships to help you accomplish your goals. If you don’t plan on hiring staff right away, identify freelancers, virtual assistants, interns, and part-time workers to help you along the way. Locate graphic designers, marketing professionals, lawyers and accountants that you can turn to when you need them. And, if there is another business that reaches your target audience, try to partner with them on projects to get more exposure for your brand.

Follow the ten steps above to start your business, and to lay a strong foundation for your long-term success. And remember to stay creative, stay hungry, and stay focused along your entrepreneurial journey. Your part-time passion can (and will) become your full-time business if you put in the work.

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