Turn Your Hobby Into a Business With These 5 Steps

You are probably thinking that an economic downturn is not the best time to be thinking about turning your hobby into a profitable business. Think again. This can be one of the smartest moves you can make – if you take the time to plan ahead and give yourself the best chance possible of success.

Here are 5 tips that you can follow to turn your dream into a plan of action.

1. Write a business plan

This is a requirement for any business that will be seeking funding from other people but there is an even better reason for writing a detailed and comprehensive business plan. When you are forced to write your ideas for others to read it tends to focus your thinking, make you seek better proofs for your assumptions, and sharpen your description of the actions that you will be taking. You can find some good business plan models online but the basic requirements are that your business plan should define your business, the products and services that you’ll be offering, how you will distinguish yourself from your competition, and your proposed operating procedures.

2. Consider a corporation or an LLC

If you do not have the time or the inclination to research the best form of business organization for your company then get the advice that you need from an accountant that specializes in business tax returns. Corporations and LLC’s help to protect your personal assets from your business debts and liabilities but there are certain tax advantages to formal business organizations that are simply not available to sole proprietorships. The Inc. or LLC after your business name also adds credibility and cache with customers and business partners.

3. Get the business licenses, permits, and tax identification numbers that you’ll need

Every business other than a sole proprietorship requires a federal tax identification number and every business that hires employees will require one also. Depending on the nature of your business activities and state and local requirements your business may need a particular license or any variety of permits. Do your own research on this or consult with a local attorney who is familiar with other businesses like yours.

4. Open a business checking account

Even if you decide to operate as a sole proprietorship you will still want to open a separate checking account for the business. It’s always a bad idea to mix personal and business income and expenses. For one thing, commingling accounts makes it a nightmare to separate them back out at tax time, and two, you will lose the ability to manage your business finances because you’ll quickly lose track of its actual income and expenses.

5. Create your brand and start promoting

If you do all your business locally then get business cards and a letterhead that will distinguish your business. Develop your business persona and promote it throughout the community. People do business with people that they trust and they like. If your business will be online or with remote customers the same rules apply. Deliver what you promised, and make everybody feel that they are getting their money’s worth from you and more.

Could These Two Secrets to Getting Advice Be Helpful to Successful Business Women?

Successful business women know the importance of having mentors at various stages throughout their lives. Whether it was in school, sports teams, dance or other activities, who among us doesn’t remember having someone who offered the help, support and advice that helped us get some challenging times.

Business is tough enough for success business women so why not have some people you can count on for support. Many people will tell you what they think you want to hear, not enough will tell you what you should hear.

And receiving and accepting candid feedback is a main reason why successful business women get that way. They use it to avoid costly mistakes and make better decisions to achieve their business goals and professional aspirations.

Mentors are important to those who may be lacking the experience, knowledge or skills required in a certain task or position. Successful business women can leverage the capabilities of others to help them when their lack of experience could be a liability.

After all any stretch assignment has potential pitfalls where your lack of experience could cause you to fail. This is where a mentor can help. You learn from their mistakes, not just from yours.

But how do you know what type of mentor you need? Who would be the best person to help? How can successful business women find them?

The first step requires an objective self-assessment – You can’t find a mentor until you “find” (know) yourself. Only after you know what you need, can you find a mentor to help.

Ask yourself what do I really need in a mentor – if it’s for career then maybe you want to know what jobs you should be taking now. What course and/or training are needed? What assignments should successful business women be thinking about taking to give them the right experience given their career choices?

Or maybe you’re in a new role or stretch assignment. You might want to ask a mentor – What are the barriers to success? How do I get around them? Who should I involve? What other skills are needed? And so on. Determine and understand what you really want.

Step 2 – After you have answered these questions, ask yourself how a mentor can help you.

Mentors can help with a promotion, developing skills, identifying strengths, getting help with weakness and as well as business progress. They can also be business development sponsors for successful business women.

The right business related mentor is also someone who knows your field, can help you learn new things and is willing to give his or her time to help you. Often they have the knowledge and skills, open-mindedness, accessibility, trustworthiness and reliability.

Sometimes their great success comes with great egos which can be a problem. Just because someone has significant cache doesn’t mean they will help you. Successful business women will also need to determine the structure of the mentoring relationship – in person, virtual and global or network. And if the mentoring relationship is for long term or just for short period of time.

Successful business women may not find a mentor over night. They will need to continually be reaching out to people who they think could help. Meeting with them, sharing ideas and concerns. Over time you will determine if they are the right person for you: can they be the mentors that you need to help you and your business.

Small Business SEO Checklist

In 2005 there were 11.5 billion web pages that could be publicly index able by the web. There is an over abundance of information and your browser gives you access to all this information, and to the say the least there is going to be a multitude of so-called experts on any subject and SEO is no different.

There are some SEO best practices that stand the test of time, and regardless of the ongoing debate there are some basics that you need to check off before you start going any further with higher level SEO strategies. You may hear terms like, personalized search, or link building, but before you start getting lost down the rabbit hole please have these items checked off on your list and have these best practices on your tool belt.

Everything Starts with the Key Word

You could know everything there is about SEO, you could have a greatest web designers in the world and have an entire multi-million dollar infrastructure built around your business but in the SEO world if you don’t have the key words that you want associated with your business and eventually ranking for your website it’s similar to having a Ferrari without ever filling the tank with gas and taking it out of the garage to take it for a spin.

You are going to need key words, and you are going to have to find good ones. Good key words, in the SEO world, can be described as key words that are searched for allot but don’t have allot of competition. Eg., the keyword “real estate” is searched for quite a bit but is it realistic to go after such a key word that is very competitive? No.

So do some due diligence and use some free tools on the web to find the keywords that you think will be a good fit. As a general rule of thumb the more niche the better. Yeah, “Red Widgets” may be a great key word with good search volume, but “Red Widgets San Diego” would be allot easier to rank and it is geographically specific to your area so there is a higher chance you will close the deal if it’s a local customer versus somebody who’s calling your from Whistler, BC.

Search Engine Spiders Eat Text

This may seem like Chinese to you but this phrase will make sense if you know how a search engine works. The only way a search engine is going to find your site is with their search engine spider which crawls the web and sends back all the text it’s crawled and it caches it on their servers.

To make sure that your site is cached for the right key word you must tag your HTML appropriately with the level of importance as follows.

  1. Title
  2. h1
  3. h2
  4. first key words of your paragraph
  5. meta description
  6. meta keywords
  7. alt tags for images
  8. actual text on web page

New Content

One very important aspect of a web site that search engines weigh in heavily with their rankings is the updating of content and the indexing of new content. That’s why it’s always recommended that you have a blog on your website that is updated daily with new posts.

If it looks like your site is being outfitted with fresh content on a daily basis that offers more information on your service, brand or product to searchers so Google, or Yahoo! will consider that when ranking their search results for certain keywords.

Submit Your Sitemap

It’s important to have content on your website that is useful to the visitors to your site, but it’s also important for the content to be easily to navigate through. So build a sitemap, make it easy, readable and submit it to Google Webmasters.

Get in the Habit of Linking

Links are basically the scaffolding of the world wide web, they hold all the information together organically with out having a central nervous system, or data center. The web just IS, it’s a force of nature, and an ever expanding organism and the more links your have linking to your website the more scaffolding you have holding up your site, the more relevant you become for certain subjects.