Turn your passion into profit but look before you leap

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Dried fish biltong (bokoms) being sold on the side of the road at Velddrift on the Cape West Coast.

With this economy every bit of extra cash counts.

Many aspiring entrepreneurs are turning their hobbies, favourite pastimes, and passions into profitable businesses. They are making a living doing what they love. And because they love what they do, they work harder at it.

Experts say eight out of ten small business start-ups result from hobbies or long-term interests.

An investment broker who passionately enjoyed music parlayed his interest into a promotional company for music artist.

A gourmand at home becomes a food caterer.

A dog lover turns pet care specialist.

A dressmaker working on her mom’s sewing machine introduces her own designer clothing line in boutiques.

These success stories are plentiful. Everywhere. But they skip some important details:

• These were not overnight successes. The investment banker, for example, first worked for peanuts in a music recording studio.
• Each of these entrepreneurs had a clear goal, a compulsion to go in the direction they did.
• A burning desire fuelled these individuals will to succeed.

Before anyone wildly pursues their passion to start a business out of their hobby or consuming interest, they need to understand the risks associated with running a business.

Without knowing how to assess the potential market for your idea for a product or service, market testing your prototype or concept, and creating a business plan, your dream can spiral into a nightmare.

But if you go at your new business idea with a calculated, well researched approach you can limit your losses – probably to less than you’ve invested in your hobby or pastime in the first place.

That said, any new business carries risk. Aspiring entrepreneurs and small business people mitigate risk of failure through skills, experience, coaching and self-business management. If you can, hire consultant or find a mentor.

Saturate yourself in your topic. If, for example, you wish to start a restaurant, take courses, speak to professionals, restaurant owners and perhaps even work in a restaurant to learn the business.

Ask yourself these questions:

• Will my product or service satisfy a market need?
• Who are my prospective customers?
• What’s the most economical way to distribute and sell my product or service?
• Who is my competition and how can I distinguish my product or service from theirs?
• How can I collect feedback on my product or service from prospective customers?
• In what ways can I test my product or service?
• What price will I charge for my product or service to sell to as many people as possible and still make a profit?

When you’ve completed your preparation, worked out that twist or angle to turn your hobby into income, you need to take the plunge – how otherwise would you ever know whether your idea will succeed or not?

Stay inspired
Chesney Bradshaw

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