People have told you that you should turn that hobby into a business, but should you? Striking out on your own can be a frightening experience.
“It doesn’t have to be,” said small business consultant Russ Seagle.
The Small Business Center at Richmond Community College hosted Seagle at a seminar “From Garage to Main Street – Turning Your Hobby into a Real Business” on Tuesday at the Cole Auditorium.
“The problem with turning a hobby into a business is that most people either forget it’s a business, or they forget it’s something they’re supposed to love,” said Seagle. “Doing one causes you to lose money; doing the other causes you to lose your passion, and that’s far deadlier. Going from garage to Main Street can be an enjoyable, enriching experience if it’s done right.”
Seagle handed out a work package from Seagle Management Consulting that walks people through key considerations one should make before starting a business, such as asking if you have what it takes, what your top five reasons for starting are, and the “scary stuff.”
Scary stuff included legal structure, insurance, licenses and fees, hiring and firing.
Seagle’s concept of “From garage to Main Street” took a modern turn when he pointed out that small businesses are become more mobile.
“Make sure you have the best technology you can afford,” he said. “I wouldn’t recommend a desktop computer, those are dinosaurs. You need to be mobile and agile. As long as you’ve got Wi-Fi, you’re in business. These days laptops are slim and fit into a purse. If you can be pool side in a tropical setting while working on your business, why shouldn’t you?”
Seagle pulled his iPhone out of his pocket. “This is where everything is headed. This is how we’re going to handle customer interaction,” he pointed out. “How do we stay in front of customers? With social media.”
Seagle listed social media outlets Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and YouTube, noting that YouTube “is often disregarded.” He said YouTube is handy for presenting how to do things, and many people access YouTube from their phones when they want a quick tour or tutorial. All of these, Seagle said, help business owners with their “location.”
“Instead of a physical location, be where customers expect you to be,” said Seagle. “If your customers expect you to be on a billboard, be on a billboard. If they expect you to be on Facebook, be on Facebook. Start a business page on Facebook.”
Seagle explained that now, customers can shop for and pay for products on Facebook using Payvment, which has allowed Facebook and PayPal to integrate, making shopping a one-stop process.
Seagle said that the old business motto was “ABC - Always Be Closing” but now it is “ABC - Always Be Communicating.”
Seagle gave seminar attendees and prospective business owners a list of resources to create websites that are low-cost and professional looking, and a list of apps for smart phones that will help integrate documents and receipts from business expenses into a manageable account. He also covered common mistakes new business owners make that run their projects into the ground such as insufficient start-up funds, using business profits for personal expenses, not outlining a road map and allowing the work to kill the joy of the hobby.
If you have questions for Russ Seagle about creating business plans, using resources or consulting you can contact him at russ@SeagleConsulting.com or visit TheBulletproofBusiness.com.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.