Whether you’re making badges, selling scarves or crocheting cushions, leaving your job and turning your hobby into a source of income can be a daunting experience, and there’s a lot to consider. But with a bit of guidance, making the transition from a hobby to a business needn’t be too difficult.
First Things First
Pre-planning is essential.
Carry out extensive market research so that you have a great understanding of your opportunities and the competition. Don’t enter an already-crowded craft marketplace with something that loads of people are already doing – know what differentiates you and your items from the competition.
At the outset, it’s worth setting out and understanding what your long-term business goals are. One reason for this is that it keeps you on track – if you’re always aiming for a goal, it can help keep you motivated, even if you’re going through a low point.
Thinking of these goals and ambitions is essential, but you’re also going to need to give the immediate practicalities some thought too…
Thinking through what you want to achieve will give you the basis to start understanding your financial planning. Know what your financial requirements are so that you can know what you need to work towards.
Turning your craft hobby into a business obviously will require a higher level of financial investment – and uncertainty – from you, and it’s crucial that you get this right. Make sure you know the answers to important questions, such as:
What equipment do you need?
For many crafters turning a hobby into a business, they’ll already have the core equipment they need, which can help keep initial costs down.
The natural evolution of crafting often sees people start it as a hobby, and then sell their creations partly just for something to do with them! For this reason, you may even have a backlog of stock which you’ve been making in your spare time, so you’ll have a good head-start.
Remember to think widely though – costs aren’t just for the equipment you’ll need for your products. For example, other initial outlays could be things like home workshop or office furniture and postage and packaging materials, so make sure you factor everything in.
Cost of your time
Many crafters are nervous when turning their passion into a business and pay themselves too little. Don’t fall into this trap. Carefully work out all your business costs and ensure that you’re paying yourself a reasonable wage for the time you’re putting in.
Having sorted out how much you’ll be selling your items for, understand how quickly you can make them! If you’re not able to create enough to bring in a viable income, this may not be the best option for you.
Where will you sell your items & how much will that cost?
As part of the planning process, you’ll need to identify where’s best to sell your items and that you fully understand the corresponding costs.
Will you be setting up your own website to sell products? Will you be selling at trade shows, craft fairs and exhibitions? Will you be using an online shopping platform such as Etsy? All of these have their advantages and disadvantages, and vary widely in how much they cost.
Unsure of which online platform is best for you? Previous blogs have outlined the costs and benefits of a number of different places to sell crafts online, as well as tips for selling on Etsy, so check those out for some more advice!
If you’re looking at turning your craft hobby into a business and are starting to sell on a repetitive basis solely for profit, you’ll need to register your business with HMRC.
This article has some great hints on the tax requirements for small craft businesses.
After HMRC cracked down on tax evasion from online sellers, this piece from the Telegraph offered some more great hints and tips, which will be useful if you’re unsure if what you’re doing is taxable.
Your Work Environment
It’s likely that you’re going to be working from home if you’ve turned your craft hobby into a business, and you’ll probably start off using the same space you always used to make your products.
If you’re to turn professional, though, it’ll be beneficial if you could set up a dedicated work area in your home, not just for the crafting, but for the admin and record-keeping that comes with running a business too.
Although many enjoy being able to dip in and out of work and home-life and the flexibility of working when they feel like it, it can be helpful to keep relatively strict and regular work hours. This can allow you to work more efficiently, as you enter the working day focused and with fewer distractions.
Coupled with a dedicated working space, this means that the boundaries between home and work don’t become too blurred, which is important if your hobby-turned-business is to remain something you enjoy!
If you’ve successfully turned your craft hobby into a business, we’d love to hear your hints, tips and things to consider!