A Few Tips on Turning Your Hobby into a Business

Strive not to be a success, but to be of Value.” – Albert Einstein 

You don’t have to quit your job and go into debt to start a business. It’s often a good idea to start slowly to allow the freedom to experiment and learn as you go. 

Generally speaking, service businesses are the businesses that require the smallest initial investment and may allow you to operate from your home. You should check with your city or county about rules affecting a home-based business as well as your HOA’s Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions to determine if there are any requirements or limitations to a home-based occupation. For example, Pima County has a Home Occupation & Permit process at https://webcms.pima.gov/cms/One.aspx?pageId=341765. 

One can learn much by observation; you may want to visit a business you admire or join an association of those in a similar business. Going outside of where you plan to sell your services or products, where you are not in direct competition, will likely result in the business owner being open to sharing information. 

Organization is likely the most important characteristic in operating a small business. Keeping schedules, meeting deadlines, organizing and maintaining records of vendors and customers are a part of every business. So, if balancing your checkbook is tough or your vehicle tends to run out of gas, you are going to experience difficulty. Identify the areas where you have less skill or knowledge and seek support to learn the necessary skills. 

A second criterion for success, and avoiding costly mistakes, is the ability to read carefully. Most business transactions will be handled on paper or a computer, and if you miss something because you are in a hurry or just not in the habit of taking the time to read contracts, bills, and government paperwork, you may make a mistake that will cost you a lot of time or money or both.  Read the paperwork or have someone help you, especially if you don’t understand. Often there are local business organizations that provide guidance for a small business owners, such as your local chamber of commerce. Here in Vail, there is the Greater Vail Chamber of Commerce, https://www.greatervailchamber.com/.  SCORE has a lot of resources for small businesses including a network of free small business mentors, https://www.score.org/. 

Another essential factor is to get over your fear of numbers.  Many of the services that accountants and lawyers provide are for those folks who panic about documents and don’t understand the importance of learning how to interpret and use financial information. Learning about how to do the math and interpret basic financial reports (profit & loss, balance sheet) will establish a foundation to help you grow your business and learn the necessary metrics.  Such measurements allow you, as you grow, to make informed decisions about the services and products you sell, as well as expenses and hiring.  And, more importantly, learning how to interpret financials will help you establish metrics to keep yourself and those that support your vision accountable. 

Your personality can affect the monetary success of your business. There are many people who are not outgoing and are not interested in selling their services or products. Identifying this challenge will help you decide early how you can best sell your services or products. This, in turn, will prompt you to develop the necessary skills or bring in the support of someone with such skills. 

As a final tip, if you are thinking of taking the next step and setting up or growing a business, the Arizona Commerce Authority has a free interactive checklist program to guide business owners. It includes licensing information as well as statewide resources that can assist Here is the web address to the checklist: https://www.azcommerce.com/small-business/small-business-checklist/. 

Best of luck with your endeavor! 

The information provided does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information is for general informational purposes only. This information may not constitute the most up-to-date information. Links provided are only for the convenience of the reader, A. Ferraris Law, PLLC and its members do not endorse the contents of the third-party references. 

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