"Choose a Job You Love and You'll Never Have to Work a Day in Your Life" - Confucius
The old adage is semi-true. Technically, you’ll work more hours per day, every day without a break than you’ve ever worked under someone else but because you love what you do, it won’t feel like ‘work’.
Being able to immerse yourself in your passion day in and day out without the monotony of the traditional work day, is liberating, motivating and wholly fulfilling.
So how do you make your passion, your profit?
Starting a business is surprisingly easy. There are no age limitations, sometimes even no funding limitations, depending on the type of business you’re launching. The success of the business however, is wholly dependent on you and how much you’re willing to persevere even on the cusp of financial, social and emotional ruin.
Figure out whether you can feasibly turn your passion into a profit. Research who else is doing it, who has successfully made it a career, how have they done it, what do they do well? What do they do ineffectively? What will be your point of difference? - Research the costs involved, the price points, the logistics of sending and receiving stock components or if you’re looking into drop shipping, the reputation of the company you’re wholesaling from.
This phase should be your main focus. Other than working out the profit margin and who your competitors are, you need to eat, sleep and breathe your business so you should use this time to learn as much as possible about your potential business, your industry and your product or service. Write (and rewrite) your business plans – how will you obtain funding / stock / clients? How will you sustain business and yourself with limited funding?
Plan for expansion
It’s not enough to merely launch a business and stick to that plan for the next however long, there needs to be an expansion plan in place so that the business (and with it, the client base) doesn’t go stagnant. Takeaway restaurants are always launching new menu items; larger businesses expand into franchises or expand their service base.
As an example, Harlow Garland started solely as a wedding planning and styling service before expanding into offering floristry services (wedding flowers). They are currently launching an online store selling quality wedding and event supplies as well as their own custom luxury and calligraphed stationery line and have additional plans for expansion that will grow the business exponentially.
Your business (as well as your own skillset) should be forever growing, and at a pace that is sustainable.
Build a brand and manage your reputation
Prior to launch, you need to be building hype for your business, identify your target market by researching the market of your competitors and tailoring that to suit your product, service or locale.
Your reputation is your meal ticket. If you constantly provide exceptional service, address issues before they come up and treat your customers as if they’re the most important person (because they are), you'll establish a positive reputation. Never badmouth any other companies or people in the industry – you’ll find your industry is far smaller than you think and that word travels fast if you choose the negative path.
Even if a competitor chooses to badmouth you, if your work is consistently of a high standard and your brand continually positive, you'll continue to find success. Their negative remarks only reflect badly on themselves and as people deal with them and work out that they're the kind of person to badmouth or behave less than professionally, they'll find they don't make it very far.
Don't rush into recruitment
It's incredibly difficult at the start to do everything yourself - the day to day, building the brand and producing high-quality work and you may be tempted to hire as soon as you can, even be ecstatic that someone wants to work for you and seems too good-to-be-true in your interviews. But from experience, we've found that hiring too soon or hiring a friend of a friend who is looking for work, is never a good idea. You're too often dramatically let down by their less than professional behaviour or lackadaisacal approach to the job and your business suffers for it. Work for yourself as long as you can, delegating some tasks where possible to professionals (sites like Fiverr can be a great resource for cheap outsourced work) and when it does come time to recruit, prepare and extensively interview until you find someone as fanatical about your business as you are, someone who wants a future in the company or is willing to go the extra mile, not watch the clock and get by with doing the bare minimum.
Hone your craft
Just as an accountant must clock up a certain number of training hours per year, so too should you continue to hone your craft. Whether that be through courses and mentoring or through just diligently practicing away in your (rare) free time, your aim should be to remain the authority in your field, producing consistently high-quality work.