The silver lining to this unprecedented time is that we have, to a greater or lesser degree, more time on our hands, schedules and work commitments permitting, that is. In a previous article, we explored the benefits of hobbies. Some of you may have rekindled interest in a hobby long shelved. Others may have set their minds on picking up a new hobby. With a touch of creativity, an Internet connection and a gung ho attitude, you may put one, two or more hobbies under your belt by now. Good on you! Moving Forward Strictly speaking, hobbies are something which someone does for pleasure when they are not working, at least according to the Cambridge Dictionary. For most of us, this definition rings true. However, there are some who have turned their passion into profit. Thinking of joining the bandwagon? Read on! Passion To Profit When passion is your main driver, what you produce will be of the very best quality and possibly, unique. Your customer and aftercare service will be second to none. Plus, you will make more friends. This, in turn, will expand your network of contacts, thus growing the business. Best of all, you will be doing what you love and loving what you do. A Paradigm Shift The first order of the day requires you to think like a businesswoman. It may seem easy, but, in truth, it isn't. What makes the switch hard is your passion. When you create something with your own hands, there is literally, a lot of blood, sweat and tears that goes into it. As such, it can be hard to think with the acumen of a businesswoman. Do not get discouraged if you find this hard going. As practice makes perfect, you will come into your own, in time. Priming The Ground The second thing on your to-do list is, The List. In the previous article, it was noted that some people have one hobby. Others, two or more. Those who have a plethora of hobbies can break them down into the rarely touched, and regularly done hobbies. It is usually the regular hobbies which are best to monetise. They are the ones you are most familiar with, making the shift almost seamless. List down on paper all your hobbies, dividing them into sections as you feel appropriate. Be savagely truthful. Narrowing The Options Now that you have a Master List, the onward step would be to evaluate those hobbies. You should separate those you are good at, from the mediocre. Again, be savagely sincere and narrow down the list to perhaps 3 choices. These should be the hobbies you are an old hand at, and which you feel most comfortable with. Blazing a new trail is possible, but if you are not familiar with the product on hand, it could be a steep and costly learning curve. To help you ease into business with as little upsets as possible, the best way forward would be working with what is most familiar. As An Aside Many of us list reading as a hobby. In addition to reading, there are other hobbies which also fall into the same category, e.g jigsaw puzzle creations, playing board games, doing crossword puzzles, among others. These hobbies are wonderful in themselves. They bring untold joy, a sense of accomplishment and pride of self in an attempt well done. Board games are not only fun, but they bond people together as well. However, to be marketable, the laws of demand and supply apply. You could monetise reading if you have a very good reading voice and land contracts doing voice-overs or become an audible narrator for audiobooks, for instance. Otherwise, certain hobbies always remain a personal passion. Decision Time Now that you have narrowed down your list to just 3 possibilities, what would be the next step? Among the 3, pick the best one. Best, in this context, does not mean the one which makes the most money, necessarily. Rather it is the one you are very good at, something you find comfortable to work with and in which there is demand. Take your time. Ideally, it should fit like a second skin. 1. Small Steps, Small Falls The great oak tree grows out of a tiny acorn. To build a strong business it is always prudent to take small steps in setting up and establishing your new endeavour.\u00a0 In time, you will see it gather heft and gain momentum. It will take resolve, minute planning and creative thinking on your part to juggle through all your commitments and responsibilities. But it is possible and once you have it down pat, you will reap the rewards and satisfaction of a job well done. 2. Write It Down Keep a Journal. It should contain the Master List in addition to timelines, additional ideas, priorities to aim for and musings to ruminate on. This gives you a clearer sight of what you need to do, sifting the necessary and important from the unnecessary. It also ensures you do not miss any important details. 3. Have A Plan List what you would like to achieve with a rough timeline in your Journal. Rope in trusted advisors and bounce your ideas on them. Encourage them to be as frank as possible, keeping your emotions in check. While it is natural to feel emotionally attached to your idea, these sessions are crucial for you to assess the strength of your business model before moving forward. 4. Perfecting Imperfections Before any product is marketable, it has to be as perfect as it possibly can. If you choose baking cakes as your entry-level into business, there are a few things to consider. In the first place, you will need to determine your best cake recipe and then, if you are going to start out with just one product or with a variety. Having chosen the recipe, the next step would be to perfect it for a consumer market. Taste test it on a variety of people for feedback. Your taste testers should include little ones. Their taste buds are surprisingly refined, especially for cakes! After all the feedback, perfect your product. 5. The Launch You can choose either to launch with a big bang or a soft launch. Big bang launches come with big expenses. If you have the funds and the support system, go for it. On the other hand, soft launches enable you to start small and work your way up, letting the business slowly gain heft and gather momentum. It also allows you to ease into the endeavour slowly and surely. By way of example for a soft launch, you could start your business by making just the simple butter pound cake. In time, you can develop different flavours, frostings, sizes and designs. Moving forward, you could come up with different varieties such as gluten-free, graham cracker (see inset), sugarless or flourless options. You could also make savoury cake options with parmesan cheese or herbs for better variety. With creativity, you have a huge range to explore, with endless possibilities. "Marketing" The competition out there is, and will always be huge, with many vying for the market share. To break into the market, you need to put yourself out there. In comes your marketing. First on the list is to create a brand and a name for yourself. It does not need to be something flashy or expensive. Just keep to a simple, classic design, something you can easily create at home. Put it on everything you give away or sell. Package it thoughtfully. People love getting something that not only tastes good but also looks good. Feel free to enclose an elegant card with your details thanking them for their purchase. Perhaps instead of wrapping the pound cake with cling wrap, consider coloured plastic wrap with a nice ribbon and perhaps a sprig of flowers or herbs to go with it. \t Social Media Here We Come! Social media is the best way to put yourself out there, no question about that. Feel free to use as many channels as possible. Just a word of warning, the more channels you put yourself on, the more chatter you may receive. Bearing this in mind, you might want to ease into positioning yourself on social media so as not to be bogged down with managing the sites. Another possible option is to ask help from a trusted friend or family member who is tech-savvy and willing to monitor and promote your social media presence on your behalf. If the social feed builds up over time, you might consider paying the person assisting you or alternatively, hiring an assistant to help you out. \t Have A Breather Celebrate the milestones with gusto. Each time you achieve an aim or objective on your timeline, take a breather and celebrate to boost morale and keep up your good cheer. Celebrations are always better when shared. \t There Are More Ways Than One You can manage more than one business if you like, schedules and time permitting, that is. It would depend on the lay of your hobbies. For example, if you like to cook, bake and do gardening, you could consider a farm to fork endeavour. As a caterer, you could cross-sell your baking business and vice versa. Additionally, if you love gardening and have both an edible and a regular garden, you could cross-sell vegetables, herbs or flowers to your customers. As always, start small and work your way up slowly. If you rush things, you may find yourself overstretched, overworked and overtired. Upping Your Game Are the qualifications necessary? Well, that would depend. If you are starting up a home-based business and getting a feel of it,\u00a0 you probably would not need accreditation. However, if your clientele is more upmarket and your services are for formal or grand functions, certification would be a good idea. As a first foray, it would be prudent to put down roots before committing to any outlays. If you find it too difficult, it will be easier to change direction and forge ahead onto something else. Once the outlays are down, switching midstream will be more difficult. So until then, you can hold on until the business is on better footing before ploughing cash into accreditation. Ready, Set, Go! If you are all geared up for a new direction in life, let me be the first to wish you the very best of luck. It takes courage, plucks and daring to venture into business, no matter how small. Just one last piece of advice. The pandemic will come to an end, in time. Once restrictions have been lifted, life will revert to what it was, although with changes. If you are working, you will go back to work. If you are a homemaker, your duties will resume as normal. The daily juggling between work, family and daily duties will commence. If there is a will, there is a way. Just take those baby steps to success. I am sure that in time, you will indeed taste the best of both worlds. Good luck!