Via All Business Experts : For many of us, a passion is something we pursue outside of work. We don’t expect it to make money. In fact, we expect to lose money on our passions. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. It’s possible to do something you love and make money at the same time. You just need the right approach.
Almost Anything Can Be a Business
The key to running a profitable business is identifying a need and filling it. Think about how your passion relates to others. Popular shows like Pawn Stars and Storage Wars illustrate how you never know what might be valuable until you give it a try. And it doesn’t just have to be about finding discarded treasures and cleaning them up (although, if that’s your passion, you can turn it into a good business). Think about what you’re interested in, and see if you can figure out how to turn it into a money-maker.
My uncle and grandfather both love the outdoors. They fly-fish, and river-raft. At first glance, these passions seem firmly in the “hobby” camp. However, both of these men have made money off their passions. Fellow outdoors lovers hire them to show them where to go fishing, or to guide them on rafting trips that range anywhere from four hours to four days.
Consider what you love, and think about how it might benefit others enough that they would be willing to pay for it. I know a woman who loves decorating with unique painted wood signs with vinyl lettering. Visitors to her home saw them, and asked about them. Now she has a tidy side business creating signs to order for select clients.
My son’s saxophone teacher loves music, and he makes money by teaching others how to enjoy music as well. He also makes money by playing special events. My own band teacher in high school played with a small group of guys that turned their passion into money by providing live music at weddings, parties, and other events. My grandmother’s 80th birthday celebration (and later her funeral) included a paid bagpiper.
No matter what you do, there is a good chance that you can find someone willing to pay you for it, whether it’s your interest in social media, an ability to teach others difficult concepts, or whether it’s your passion for antiquing. Identify how your passion could be useful to someone else, and you’re well on your way to making money at it.
Create a Business Plan
Next, you need a business plan. One of my regrets is that I didn’t view my writing as a business. I enjoyed writing, and I knew it could pay a few bills, but I didn’t get serious about seeing it as a true business. Looking back at the 10 years I’ve been doing this as a living, I realize that I should have gone in with a business plan.
Even if your business plan is just a basic outline of where you want to be, and the steps you want to take to get there, you can benefit. As you create your business plan, identify some of your startup costs, consider how you will get the word out about your product or service, and determine how you will raise funding. You need a plan of action if you expect to make it from point A to point B. A good business plan will give you direction, and help you move forward.
Today, I have a business plan, although it’s a rather basic plan. It covers the type of writing I want to do, my goals for freelance rate increases, and a plan of action for maintaining a certain level of visibility in my niche. Even if you don’t take your passion-as-a-business too seriously just yet, you still should have a plan in place. In fact, without a business plan to help you take steps toward success, there is a good chance you will fail.
Raise Funding for Your Business
Don’t forget that you need to raise money for your business. Some small businesses, like mine, have very few costs. All I need to run my freelance writing business is a computer and a broadband Internet connection. Even though I have since added a virtual assistant to my expenses, the business outlay for a freelance writer is very small. However, your business might be different. You might need to raise money for supplies or inventory, or you might need to pay for advertising or a PR person. The good news is that there are a number of ways to raise funds for your small business or startup. You can get a loan using quotes from an aggregator like RateZip, or you can use a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter to find the money you need. The options available are varied, and there is a good chance that you can get at least some of the money you need to fund your business.
Get the Word Out
One of the most important things you need to do when turning your passion into a profitable business is to get the word out. One of my favorite establishments in Logan, Utah, where I used to live, is Sweetly Divine. The owner is trained as a chef, and he’s turned his passion for cooking and experimentation into a business. He makes delicious food, and even has distribution agreements for his signature jalapeño jellies and his freezer jams. One of the ways he gets the word out is by being engaging and personal on Facebook.
You can get the word out about your business by using various social media outlets online. Start a blog and create videos, show images, and create useful content. This will go a long way toward helping you establish yourself and bring attention to your business. Let people in your network know what you are doing, and encourage them to spread the word. You can even buy advertising — as long as you are targeted about it, and purchase ads in places that make sense for your business.
Stick With It
Finally, stick with it. The great thing about turning a passion into a profitable business is that, while you’re waiting for things to happen, you’re at least doing something you love. It can take some time for your business to take off and become profitable. In the mean time, look at the possibility of tax deductions for your costs, and enjoy what you’re doing.
About Miranda Marquit
Miranda is a financial journalist. Her work has appeared in a number of publications, online and off, and been mentioned by the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, NPR, and Consumerist. Miranda is a contributor to U.S. News & World Report, and writes at the blog Planting Money Seeds. She is also a panelist for the Money Mastermind Show, a LIVE web show that airs every Wednesday at 10 p.m. Eastern.