More than once, while enviously eyeing a self-employed friend or neighbor, you’ve probably said to yourself, “What skills have they got that I don’t have?” Like me, when visiting your local annual craft fair you may have also caught yourself thinking: “that’s too easy” and “I could do that” when looking at an imaginative craft or other creative item.
We’ve already established that you don’t need a college degree to succeed, so what’s stopping you? Not all businesses take thousands of dollars to start up, and with a few hours a week and some creative thinking and ingenuity, even you might be able to work towards creating a self-employed life for yourself, all while still working your day job.
If you’re in debt up to your ears, or even drowning in it, you might day dream on a fairly regular basis about the types of side businesses you would start to help pay off your debts faster. Even if you’ve already qualified for federal student loan forgiveness programs or taken advantage of loan consolidation options you may still be struggling to make ends meet on a monthly basis. According to the United States Census Bureau, the average net worth for a 35-year old is only around $6,676, and most have only around $500 in their checking accounts — leaving little funds to invest or play around with.
But don’t let that hold you back! The trick is to think creatively and focus on utilizing your unique skills and experiences to create a brand for yourself — and the clients will follow. Here are a few additional tips for making sure that your hobby-turned-business is successful from the start:
Find your niche
When deciding what type of business to start, think about your personal passions and unique experiences. If you have years of experience in a particular industry, you may be able to offer business to business (B2B) consulting services addressing a gap that you noticed while out working in the field.
You may also be able to teach classes in line with one of your passions or hobbies. This makes the most of all the hours you’ve invested in learning specialized “off the clock” skills. Sit down and make a long list of your talents and capabilities and then shortlist the best bets for a small business you can start in your spare time.
Register your business
Now that you have your niche picked out, officially register your business. No excuses. Legally registering your business, handling the basic paperwork, and even getting your accounts set up can all be completed in less than a day.
Stop procrastinating. Even if you choose a goofy business name and need to change it later, a “doing business as” form will be an easy thing to complete. As Nike says, just do it —it will give you the momentum you need to keep moving forward.
Invest time in financial recordkeeping
Be sure to separate personal and business finances from the get-go so you get a good feel for your profits and losses early on. The worst thing you can do as a new start up is comingle funds. Even if you start selling some product or service on the side as a “hobby,” be sure to treat it as a business from the beginning to avoid frustrating complications later.
Additionally, unless you are an Excel genius, nothing will get you off track faster than trying to use Excel to manage your finances. Invest time in proper accounting software, free or paid, and save yourself the headache. A few options include: WAVE, Soft books, Zoho Books and, the old standby, QuickBooks Online, as well.
Investing in a boutique accountant is another way to ensure you are following applicable laws and bookkeeping properly. Boutique accountants specializing in small businesses can also help with planning, costing, and forecasting as well — almost like a freelance-CFO.
One of the best ways to scale your business quickly is to start delegating tasks early and often. The more that you put other people in charge of tasks you dislike, or that are just not in your zone of genius, the more time you can spend on the parts you do enjoy — whether that be working with clients, seeking out new opportunities, or networking.
Marketing and trust-building
Pay special attention to how you put your brand out there when you’re first starting up. If you plan to do all your own marketing to start, be sure you read all you can about great copywriting, storytelling, and content marketing. Utilize social media networks to engage your potential clients and customers in conversations.
Small business content marketers can also offer pro tips and advice, help you manage your social accounts, and even ghostwrite content for you — usually for much less than large marketing firms. Shop around to get the best deal, hand over the reins of your business marketing beast, and then watch them make elephants run!
Starting a new business doesn’t have to be a headache when you settle into a niche you passionately love. Get all the legalities completed and accounts set up, then make a plan to start delegating tasks you dislike. Focus on the parts of growing a business you can look forward to working at each and every day.
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