Do You Have a Business or a Hobby?

Contributed by Lizzy Shaw, Lizzy Shaw Public Relations

Renegade Craft Fair was in Downtown LA last weekend. It was great to walk around, see all the artisans/craftspeople’s booths, check out cool wares, chat and, where appropriate, spread the word about my “Ask Lizzy” class.

While answering questions about PR and what designers could or should be doing to promote their businesses and products, it became clear that many of the craftspeople weren’t thinking about what they were doing as a “business”. They were very into what they were creating and producing, but the thought didn’t go much past making enough items to sell at this fair and others. For many, there was no idea about proper costing or “scalability”. They couldn’t talk to me about PR because they didn’t know who their target market was, much less to whom in the media they should be pitching. Many didn’t even know that to grow their businesses, they need to think this way.
What I realized is that for every product designer, there has to come a time (hopefully it’s VERY early in the process) where the decision is made whether this is going to be a business or a hobby. If it’s a hobby, no further thought needs to go into it – cost of goods, ROI, PR & marketing – none of those matter. The craftsperson will hopefully get a lot of pleasure out of making the item and that will be their reward – they’re not trying to make a living out of it. They’ll sell a few things and give their friends & family lots of great presents.
Treat Your Business Like a Business:
But if you want to start a business, you need to think of it that way, and the sooner, the better. That means getting clear about your business or product and what it is, getting clear about who your customer is, making decisions that will move your business forward, and getting the help and advice you need to do all of the above.
A Few Things I Recommend:
1. Read some books that give you a good idea about Business Basics. My two faves: The Essential Business Handbook by Beth Andrus is terrific and covers all the building blocks for setting up the business of your business. The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur by Mike Michalowicz is brilliant at helping you plan your business, your mission and your future, as well as providing invaluable advice about sales.
2. Get a mentor. You have people in your life who have been there and done that. Pick their brains and enlist their support.
3. Get a handle on your PR, marketing and promotion. If people don’t know about you, they can’t avail themselves of your product or service, so you can’t make money. Figure out who your ideal consumer is, then build your media outreach around that consumer. If you can’t afford to hire a publicist, learn how to do it yourself. I teach, coach and consult to entrepreneurs, designers, small businesses and service providers, and so do a lot of other publicists out there, so help is available. But you do need to learn how to do it yourself.
4. Be passionate about what you’re doing. Starting your own business is challenging, mind-bending, all-consuming, and a lot of WORK. So you had better love what you’re doing!
Did you have a hobby that you turned into a business? What helped you decide?

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  • There are lots of home base jobs or business today. The possibilities are endless but the problem of the most people today, is how to keep up with what's hot and what's not. You could also try something new and experiment with things. If you already feel that you like what you're doing and you are actually enjoying it, that's the first sign that you are getting closer to your success.

  • Thank you for your comment 🙂 You hit the nail on the head when you wrote: "If you already feel that you like what you're doing and you are actually enjoying it, that's the first sign that you are getting closer to your success." That's the most important part of the process, really loving what you are doing.

  • What a great post! I needed to read that to realize that I am doing something right, but have much to work on. Oh and number 4 is exactly right, especially when doing it all yourself. I will check into those books as well. Thank you I felt like you wrote this just for me! I will be sharing in my networks.

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