Entrepreneurs, let’s not fool ourselves with all this talk of doing what we love and the money will, um, fund an early retirement.
I’m all for doing what you love, believe me, I just don’t want you to think you have a business when what you really have is a fine-tuned, fully operational hobby.
Here’s a quick gut-check on the realities of a business vs. a hobby:
1. You’re making money. This may sound obvious, but do you know how many people send out a press release after they’ve put up a website? Me either, but I know it happens every day. These so-called businesses are trying to get attention for their great idea before they even figure out how and where they’re going to monetize. What good are spectators if you have no reason for them to become customers or sponsors.
2. You have a business model. I’m not just talking about a marketing plan, but an actual model. This is where you make connections in your industry, understand your goals so that you can commit to decisions and most importantly you have a game plan for making money. Have you looked at what you have to offer and identified what can be monetized. Look at your products, services, systems and knowledge. Now build ladders from these assets to the public. Could your business be used as a fundraiser, a how-to course or a partner to a complimenting business? This application opens lines to your target audience.
3. Your customers don’t know you personally. Seriously, if you think you’re on your way because Aunt Nancy bought 5 don’t. It’s great to have the support of friends and family but if you are not getting clicks from the world wide web, it’s time to revisit #2.
4. Decisions take your customers into consideration. Yeah, everyone might love what you do, but at some point you need to solicit customer feedback. For all you know, they may want more of something else or they could have a small fix that could lead to the repeat business you may not be getting. Business is not about you, it’s about problem solving and fulfilling needs. Open up the dialog with your target audience to jumpstart your next campaign.
5. You can work under pressure. Sure you can do what you love, but can you do it on deadline? Can you generate new ideas in a timely fashion? The whole consumer world is falling in step with the quick-change of the fashion industry – are you on board? Business has a clock that never stops ticking. From consumer expectations to Internet search engines, keeping it fresh is the key to staying in step with the competition.
6. You don’t say things like “Screw that!” Entrepreneurs have endurance and courage. There are hurtles, bills and regulations that have to be managed. You can find a better way, sure. But if you don’t have it in you to keep digging, forget it.
Ask yourself the above questions to guide you into move forward with your business undertaking, or not. You may have a hobby now, but it doesn’t always have to be that way! Above all, be honest with yourself and what’s truly inside you.