When I was much younger, I often thought about how cool it would be to own a business. I just never knew what I would do. God does work in mysterious ways. We can never fathom what one step or choice does for our future. I can tell you I could not have imagined what started as a hobby for me would eventually become a business. In 1999 after two years of designing websites for fun, an author emailed me out of the blue and asked did I design websites for pay. I was thinking, ‘I’m just having fun.’ But then another thought occurred to me.
In all honesty, my current job situation at the time, though technical, wasn’t that exciting. I was essentially living paycheck to paycheck with no extra funds. I liked what I was doing at night a lot better, so thought it wouldn’t hurt to make extra money and expand my web design skills. So in 1999, I officially started Tywebbin Creations which over seventeen years later is now a literary services business.
If you’re feeling like it’s time to monetize your hobby, let me share with you five ways to ensure a smooth transition.
This article was adapted from Chapter 15 of When Women Become Business Owners.
1 | Write a Business Plan
Transitioning from a hobby to a business is exciting, but do so with caution. Definitely don’t quit the day job until you have established a profitable business model. Depending on your business, it could take years to develop loyal clients, a marketing plan that works consistently, and clear systems for delivering services.
I would like to say I wrote a business plan after working with my first web design client, but I didn’t. I stumbled around for a couple of years until I got serious and made my company an LLC.
To make sure you have a head start on writing your business plan check out the resources below:
- The US Small Business Administration – How To Write a Business Plan
- Business plans don’t have to be boring! Check out – Skip the Boring Business Plan. Focus on the Strategy Instead.
- If you love Pinterest, this is the ultimate listing of pins –> Business Planning
2 | Create a Business System
You need to constantly evaluate your services and be open to learning new methods and systems. As a business owner you will go through different seasons of your business. Sometimes life outside the business with family, children, elderly parents, etc., may dictate what you can provide as products and services. Don’t despair.
If delivering a service is causing you to lose sleep or any anxiety, re-think if there is a better way to do it or if you should do it at all. Consider if it’s better to pull your skills together into a product or course to generate passive income.
- How to Create Systems That Enable Business Growth
- Pat Flynn – The Smart Passive Income Blog
- 5 Ways to Boost Your Productivity
3 | Establish Payment Policies
When you first move out of “hobby” mode, it’s going to feel weird to charge. Your inclination may be to price lower than competitors. I urge you to research pricing for your services. It took me a long time to increase my prices. When I did, I increased the level of the service too and clearly stated what the client would receive.
You need to be clear about deposits, payment plans and delivery dates. The client should never receive access to the final product until all payments have been received (yes, I made that mistake a few times). You may need to set up a client area for them to view your work. If necessary work with a lawyer to help you draw up solid contracts. Find an electronic invoice system that works for you, one that does a bit of automation.
I have tried a few tools, but I prefer Paypal’s invoices. The majority of my clients prefer paying with PayPal. If you want something with more bookkeeping involved check out:
4 | Strive for Balance
Hobbies can take up a tremendous amount of time if you let them. Even more so with a business. Whether your business is full-time or on the side, you need to find time to take care of yourself and live life. I may use one weekend a month to catch up on projects, but that’s my limit. Sundays for me are a definite no for clients. Honor the Sabbath day.
Watch social media, phone calls and texting. You have to set clear boundaries with all the ways a client will try to communicate with you. I prefer the client schedule phone calls. Most of the time email communication works fine.
Adopting a project management tool is something that will really help you find balance. I used to use color-code my Google Calendar like crazy, but now I use Trello. I love the visual interface and concept of creating cards for various projects. For each card you can add checklists and due dates. You can use Trello with a team, but I’m a solopreneur and it works great for me.
If you do find yourself outsourcing or adding to your team, check out Trello or other popular project management tools like:
5 | Find Ways to Stay Motivated
Sometimes you can pour your heart and soul into something and to you it looks fabulous. To the client, not so much. When applying your skills to achieve another person’s vision, you need to find a way to move past those times when you can’t satisfy a client. Some clients can be overly picky, are not really sure of what they want or you just might not be a good fit. It’s okay! My prayer is always that God sends me exactly who I should be working with on a project and that I’m a good steward in providing a quality service and fulfilling the client’s vision.
For motivation and encouragement, listen to these podcasts:
- Wisdom from When Women Become Business Owners Contributors
- 18 Expert Podcasts for Entrepreneurial Women
About the Author
Tyora Moody is the author Soul-Searching Suspense books which include the Reed Family Novellas, Eugeena Patterson Mysteries, Serena Manchester Series, and the Victory Gospel Series. She is also the author of the nonfiction book, The Literary Entrepreneur’s Toolkit, and the compilation editor for the Stepping Into Victory Compilations under her company, Tymm Publishing LLC.
As a literary-focused entrepreneur, she has assisted countless authors with developing an online presence via her design and marketing company, TywebbinCreations.com. Popular services include virtual event planning, book trailers and book covers.