Turning a hobby into a hustle

Posted 05/10/2023 in Tips for Crafters

It’s the dream of many; a business based on your hobby, working hours which suit you with people you like and turning over enough of a profit on which you can live. Is this only a dream, or can it become reality? A brief scroll through our Instagram page or an internet search will tell of many such stories; homegrown businesses which started as kitchen table projects. How did they achieve this? What are the hurdles and challenges they have had to overcome? Are there any secrets to their success? We will look at some answers to these as we hope to encourage you to work towards your dream business!

If you ask anyone who has started a business from scratch what contributed to their success, most of them will respond with a wry smile and the response, “sheer hard work!” There is no getting away from it; you will need to put the hours in, and then some more. This will probably mean making decisions about how you spend your time and may mean some sacrifices of previously enjoyed free time. You will need to be disciplined and organised if you are to see your dream become a reality. However, this is something we can all do, it just takes some intentionality and streamlined thinking.

Before you start your business, it is important to ensure you have some solid foundations in place. These are the more mundane things, like an efficient computer filing system, ordered accounts, platforms for promotion and selling and of course the correct craft insurance for small businesses. While, in your enthusiasm, it would be easy to overlook these more tedious aspects of a business, making sure you have these in place will save you time and quite possibly money in the long term. A house built on solid foundations is much more likely to withstand the occasional storm.

You are probably raring to go by this time; you have talent, creativity and a vision. Yet it would be wise to show still more restraint as you do a little market research. Again, there is much good advice online which we won’t repeat here. It is worth looking for gaps in the market, who your potential customer base might be, marketing strategies and how your business could expand and diversify from its initial small beginnings.

Having done all this, you are ready to go! You can start creating and building up your initial stock. Bear in mind to whom you will be selling, when and where. For example, if you are launching pre-Christmas, there will be a plethora of fairs and markets you can sell from as well as online outlets. The type of fair will determine to some extent your range of stock. For example, a school fete will attract children and distracted parents, so it’s probably best to go for low prices and high sales while a more artisanal fair would draw in customers from a larger radius looking to pay a bit more for a unique and beautiful gift. Remember to make sure your craft insurance for small businesses is in place before you start selling; pick up the phone or drop us a line and we will talk you through the best options for your unique needs.

Many homespun businesses begin alongside a day job, with the intention that they will, in time, become the main source of income. Although this requires long hours and not much time off, it does minimise the financial risk. It also allows for your hobby business to develop organically, at a pace and in a direction which suits you, rather than having to make decisions out of financial necessity which could draw your dream business away from your initial vision.

Another pathway towards a thriving kitchen table business is one walked by many women at home with small children; in search of some additional income and with latent creative talents, they turn their hands to their chosen craft. Starting with a school fete, they grow in confidence one fair at a time and as their children grow so does their fledgling business. This is a way of life common to countless women over the centuries, who have combined caring for their children and running a business around their families. Generations of children have been brought up by strong and resourceful women who have managed to be present for their families while also bringing in an income from home. One example is the classic cottage industry of the pre-Industrial Revolution where mothers spun or made lace whilst running their homes and caring for their children. A cautionary note is that, in our current fast-paced world it is important to put rhythms and boundaries in place to avoid burnout. However, with the slow, organic growth of many a successful home business, this is more likely to be avoided.

A few final tips to keep in mind as you determine to turn your hobby into a hustle. Make time to talk to real people who have done exactly that. While we can glean a good deal from reading others’ stories online, it can’t replace real-life conversations and the connections that can be made from these. Finally, in the midst of all the hard work, carve out time to restore yourself. This isn’t selfish, it is ancient wisdom. You may even choose to take one day of rest a week, completely away from your business. Until the early 1990’s trading was not allowed in the U.K. on a Sunday and our nation did indeed slow down. This rhythm of regular rest is often cited as a key ingredient by entrepreneurial businessmen and women.

So, as your dream business develops, allowing you to work around your family or chosen lifestyle, employing staff from your local community with a work ethic which you decide, take time to pause and look back at how far you have come, and forward to where your vision could lead you next!

And remember, we are here to support you so drop us a line and make sure you have your craft insurance for small businesses in place.