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How to turn your hobby into a small business

Do you have a hobby outside of your regular 9-to-5 that you’re passionate about? Have you considered turning that hobby into a small business?

Before you quit your day job and start knitting socks full time for some dough, you’ll need to lay out the blueprint to ensure your side hustle is worth the hustle.

Research, research and then research some more.

You can start by researching the market for what you want to sell to see if there’s sufficient demand for your product. You’ll want to do this so you avoid common mistakes that entrepreneurs make.

There are a number of ways you can do this:

  1. Look at the competition – what are their strengths and weaknesses? Understanding who your competition is will give you a knitted-sock-clad leg ‘up’ in the market.
  2. Use social media platforms, like Twitter or Pinterest, to get a feel for what’s already in the market.
  3. Google away – Google offers a number of free (yes, free!) tools that can be a great help when laying the groundwork for a successful product launch.

Google Keyword Planner gives you an in-depth look at keyword historical statistics and ideas (for example, ‘hand-knit socks’) – you can use this data to determine how many searches per month are being made, and how much competition there is.

Google Trends gives you a sneak peak at how a specific keyword is trending across various regions of the world, and in what languages (chaussettes, anyone?!) – This will be a key way to gage interest in your product.

Build your plan of attack

It’s also a helpful idea to write a business plan complete with income and expense  . Not sure where to start? Canada Business Network has a number of free templates and sample business plans up for grabs.

How about balancing two jobs?

Consider keeping your day job for the first year at least, so you’re not dependent solely on the side hustle income. One of the main reasons businesses fail is that they run out of money. Continuing to work for a paycheque to some extent could help you “sock” away some savings.

Keep the taxman in mind.

If you expect to make any profit, then Revenue Canada considers your hobby as a business and that means different tax requirements. You will need to fill out more paperwork and maybe even have to collect and remit  . Not sure if you’ll need to register your business for a GST/HST account? Click here to find out.

Seek out a business fairy godmother (or godfather, we don’t discriminate)

Having a go-to mentor (or several!) for all of your questions can be super helpful when navigating the murky waters of starting your own small business. Whether it’s looking for a vendor, supplier, or investor, your network of business mentors have the experience and contacts you’ll need to build up your business.

Psst… our superstar team of Business Specialists can be part of this network. Give them a shout.

We can help with that.

All businesses started somewhere – believe it or not. HappyCakes Bakery owner Lisa Lowe started out with a passion for baking and a Coast Capital business account 5 years ago, and has been serving happily returning customers out of her Cloverdale storefront ever since.

Happy Cakes Bakery Owner Lisa Lowe
HappyCakes Bakery owner Lisa Lowe turned her love of baking into a small business.


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