For many of us, something we love doing gradually evolves to the point that one day we say to ourselves.."maybe this has the makings of a business?" As we contemplate the idea we're energized by the possibilities and eventually decide to "take the plunge". This initial excitement and the adrenaline of a "new" venture carry us for a while..... and then the realities of running even a 'small" business begin to set in.......we're going to have to tackle things that have nothing to do with our creative process, our much loved hobby or our product.
No matter how "small" the business, certain things are necessary to engage.
When we determined to begin to sell our woodworking creations, we quickly entered the world of business licenses, state registries, websites, setting up business entities, tax ids, sales tax reports, market leases, etc. etc. etc. There were days we wondered if we'd made the right choice.......... especially on occasions when we found these "administrative" necessities demanding more time and energy than the process of creating our products.
Like many new business enterprises, paying someone to handle all our "unwanted" tasks was not an economic possibility, so rolling up our sleeves and learning to master new skills was required.
What have we learned?
1. Be patient with yourself........do your homework and don't give up.
2. The internet is a wealth of information........from state requirements, government websites, "how to" lists, and forums where others share their advice. Take some time to sift through what you need and weigh your options.
3. When you feel "overwhelmed".....walk away for a minute, take a breath, then go back to the task at hand.............remember that "this too shall pass" in that many of these initial "set up" processes are time consuming in ways that will diminish once your systems are in place. Not only that, your mastery of them will grow over time.
4. Don't overlook your network resources. Example: We have a good friend who has been invaluable with his help with our website set up. He has graciously shared his expertise and guided us periodically. His wife has shared her personal perspective on marketing ideas and products.......her honest feedback has been a balanced perspective we place great value on.
5. Recognize that social media is a unique marketing tool for growing your business and establishing a presence.........but never forget that the basics of customer service, sound business practice and believing in your product and it's value are essential. Think of it all as cultivating or growing, always true to your essential identity. You reap what you sow:)
6. Be consistent from the beginning. In other words, think about how you want to present yourself and how you want others to view you. Take the time to arrive at a logo.........appealing signage that you'll want to utilize from now on......consistency across your website, business pages, marketing literature, business cards, Instagram, Facebook, etc. You don't want your initial efforts to be rendered useless because you start out with a logo or sign that looks nothing like what you ultimately settle on. Be thoughtful.........pick a lane...........and then work it.
7. Schedule yourself.
One of the greatest stumbling blocks we have found in the process is being "all over the map" in our daily efforts . When juggling tasks that are unfamiliar or outside your "box" it's easy to be scattered. Determine how much time you need (or or willing) to devote to the various areas that need to be covered and then plan a tentative weekly schedule. It will help you be focused on accomplishing the necessary tasks as well as enabling you to be encouraged as you check off the various tasks and mark your progress. One added bonus: You begin to take the job of running your business seriously........and thus protect your valuable time.
Undeniably, turning your hobby or creative process into a viable business is real work.
But once you roll up your sleeves, make a plan, do your homework, and re-evaluate as necessary along the way to make needed adjustments ( we all do) you'll look around one day and marvel at how it's stretched you and all you've learned.
So weigh your options, count the cost, make a plan and start trying on those Hats:)