Photo by @maddiebroderick
Looking to take your unique talent and turn it from a hobby into a business? Settle in for the ride of your life. While full of ups and downs, uncertainties and unexpected turns, starting your business is an amazing journey that will transform you just as much as you will transform it. Below are 6 essential steps to begin your journey:
Like any venture, developing a plan is the first step to success. It is imperative to have at least a basic structure and plan for the growth of your business as well as steps to achieve important milestones in order to keep you organized and intentional as you embark on this journey to self-employment. Of course, plans will change and day-to-day might end up looking different than you imagined, but the thought-work of planning as well as giving yourself grace and flexibility in the beginning stages will be what sets you up for ultimate success (not always necessarily the plan itself).
Focus is key when you make the decision to transform a hobby into a business. It will require more from you, it will demand your attention from the moment you wake until the time your head its your pillow at night. And if you are pursuing this adventure while working full time, you will need to learn how to wear multiple hats, multitask and maintain a healthy balance of focus on the task at hand and the dreams of your future. Focus on one sale at a time, one client at a time, one milestone at a time and one day at a time. Your hobby will not turn into a major moneymaker over night; it will take a multitude of days and sales and clients and milestones to achieve your biggest dreams for your business, so be intentional, focus on the task at hand and the responsibilities you have each day-- in other words don't put the cart before the horse.
If you are working full time while you develop and start your business (something that is definitely wise to do), you will need to learn how to maximize your time so that you are using your down time for the development of your business, your work hours to support yourself, your family and business nest, and your side hustle to re-invest in your business. All this, while maintaining the other priorities and time commitments you have in your life. As overwhelming as this season of life sounds, it is necessary to set yourself up for success while protecting your family from the financial burdens of starting a business. While you plan to eventually move to part-time and then ultimately quit your day job to commit fully to your own business, learning to maximize your time will be essential: while your responsibilities will shift, your schedule will remain demanding and crazy as ever.
In this day and age developing an online presence is crucial. Invest in a domain name, branding, and simple website (also: be sure to claim your handles on social media as soon as you decide on a business name so that it coordinates with your domain name). Use existing networks of yours to promote your new business, share pertinent industry articles, and begin to market yourself alongside your competitors. It will be important to find your niche as well as your own voice and angle on social media, but just start where you can (like we said to begin with, your plans will change and evolve over time so have grace on yourself and don't let the fear of not having perfect messaging or complete branding ready keep you from marketing your business and getting it off the ground).
Attend trade shows, join local groups, network in your existing social circles and be dedicated to growing your following! The beginning stages of your business will require intense dedication to networking and putting yourself out there, so settle in on this step, create lasting relationships with potential clients, supporters, sponsors and/or vendors!
This journey isn't for the faint of heart. There will be hiccups, there will be failures, there will be mistakes, and there will be risks. When you commit to starting the business, you are committing to all of it (the good, the bad and the ugly). But if you are passionate about what you do, are willing to work hard to make it work and have a support system in place to help you through the tougher parts of the process, success is achievable! So be bold, aim high, work tirelessly, and leave your mark in your industry.
Looking for more help on starting and running your business? Here are some other resources we have for you:
The Do's and Don'ts of Running Your Own Photography Business
Coffee with Creatives: Katie Lamb's Tips on Finding that "Mompreneur" Work/Life Balance
7 Ways to Leave Lasting Impressions on Shoot that Lead to Returning (and New) Clients!