3 Things to think about when starting a hobby business

Have you thought about starting your own hobby business? Sometimes I look around my office and really wonder how I got here. Making my own sugar scrubs and selling ice cream I made to co-workers, has turned into a full-time workload and business that I run from my home. My holiday season funds more than a quarter of my year and I have the freedom to explore, travel and enjoy time with family and friends. Some days are better than others, and each day comes with its own challenges, but I did it and love it every single day.

We started very very slowly. I moved in with my now husband in 2011 when he was stationed in San Diego, California. While I was looking forward to the move, the adventure and the excitement of really starting a fresh relationship with an amazing person, I was nervous about living in a bigger city than I was used to, and in a very expensive part of the country. Turns out, it was more than what I could afford at the time. Not only did I work full-time, I learned to cut back on my lifestyle expenses and really slow down. We grew herbs at home, cooked at home and I started making my bath products on my own. The luxuries I was able to afford without worries turned into items I learned to make at home from household ingredients. These small ways of change brought about big waves of pride and joy. While I wasn’t the best cook, I definitely had the stubborn nature and determination to keep going and keep trying.

Fast forward to 2015. Remember that guy I moved in with? It turns out that we were meant to be and got married. But right after getting married in San Diego we moved to Washington state and that is where things got real. He is a submariner in the Navy and just as quickly as we moved, he was underway and underwater. Most of the year, for six years, I spent without him and while I could handle it (thanks to the many conversations we had about what was going to happen), but it wasn’t always easy. I had to fill my time to keep my mind busy and that really launched making things from scratch. I made freezer meals, breads and ice cream all from scratch. I started a full garden and new bath products. I made treats for our dog (was just Jax back then) and gifts for friends. I entertained often and made appetizers and desserts for events at friend’s homes. My life was very full thanks to a great group of people and was very busy at home making everything.

Because I shared products often as I tested out what worked and what didn’t, this is where the business really got started. I started selling bath products and ice cream to co-workers, jams & jellies to neighbors and even gave away some homemade wine. Yes, I was making ALL the things. It was such a blast and I was loving it, but inventory because an actual thing and frankly we didn’t have the room in our little Tin Box in the Woods that we lived in. I signed up for my first craft show. I took along bath products and jams & jellies and hoped for the best. Jorge was actually home during this time and came with me and neither of knew what to expect. It turned out to be a great day filled with learning, new contacts, another show signed up for and even some extra cash! I was addicted right off the bat.

Fast forward to present time where we have 2 laser engraving machines (the Glowforge is a great starter laser!), 1 Cricut craft cutter, countless supplies to make pretty much anything you might want or need and an ambition that is moving quicker than we physically can keep up with. Our homemade edible items and bath products have branched out to candles, wood products, printed items like shirts and so much more! We love getting custom orders and enjoy coming up with the next product(s). We are getting ready for our second move since starting our business and this has really helped me to reflect on how far we have come.

Here are 3 things to think about when starting a business.

  1. What could you do for 14 hours a day (or more) seven days a week?

I love that things are constantly changing in my line of work. One day may be focused on pressing graphic shirts, while others I may be making bath products and pouring candles. Wood work is a constant, but can range from ornaments at Christmas time to family trees and other signs throughout the year. I can do this job because it is constantly changing and each day is different. If you are someone who doesn’t enjoy change, you may want to pick a line of work that has similar functions day to day. If you are like me, I suggest starting small and adding new products and offerings as you become comfortable with the last. But understand that there is A LOT of work that goes into starting a business and if you don’t enjoy it, it will come across that way to potential customers.

2. What tools are needed and how much do they cost?

Does the line of work you are choosing take just a computer and time, or is it something that requires machinery, tools or other big ticket items? I did not wake up one day and decide to start offering personalized wood products, I researched the machines and their costs along with other items needed like paint, wood and more. Know the cost up front and pay cash for the items you need to get started. Having a loan on an item you need to do business only adds to the stress and makes work far less enjoyable. I tend to borrow from savings so that I can just pay back to the savings account and not stress about what bills I have to pay. Don’t let stress control your business. You want to enjoy it and let your customers see you enjoying it, because happy is what sells.

3. How will you sell your items and/or services?

Will you market online, or in person? You can’t just post on social media and expect to hit it big. Making a career out of this business is lots and lots of work. I work daily on networking, reaching out to businesses and marketing to potential markets I haven’t reached yet. My sales rarely come from my social media marketing and mostly from in-person events, referrals and repeat customers. I balance networking with the best customer service that I’m able to offer and try to go above and beyond for each and every customer. This is what stands out, especially in today’s market.

These are just 3 very basic things to think about when starting a business. Figure out what to offer or sell, know the costs before starting and make a plan in how you will get your products and services out there. Don’t worry about business licenses, insurance or taxes until you know what you want to do and are committed to getting started. Think about these 3 items first and the rest will be easier to tackle when you are ready.

Have questions on anything you read today? Don’t be afraid to ask, I love to help! You will see links throughout my posts. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. As always, thank you for reading and joining us on this journey!

Simply, Beth