Is this the right time to to take your hobby and turn it into a business?
Many independent creative shop owners are thriving right now through these strange times. I’m seeing some of my clients with best profits and sales over the last 6 months than ever, many are expansing, seeing highest sales ever and I have received an increase in requests for information on HOW to take your creative business idea and open a brick and mortar.
I’m asked every day as a retailer coach “should I follow my creative dream and open a brick and mortar, booth space or occasional store? Am I ready?”
Running your own store can be fun and rewarding and it CAN be profitable if done right! Despite what many think, right now, I am seeing many of my retailers thrive through this crazy time. People are craving what you can offer.
If you heart is wondering if this is the right time to make a leap…take some time to look through these points. I won’t sugar coat the process, so have a peek.
Here are a few considerations you MUST consider the following 10 points.
First, ask yourself, do you want to be a creative first or a business owner first?
Think about this one. This is a super important distinction. You can be both, but, you need to be a business owner first. This is a hard truth for some. If you are not, you will need to make a financial plan right off the bat to hire a good business manager. You can learn these skills, but, do you want to? Running a business has many moving parts and daily decisions, financial responsibilities and day-to-day operations that a business owner needs to make. (You can still be a creative, but the business hat is non-negotiable).
You will need a business plan.
Yup. You need one. Sorry. It doesn’t have to be a giant Excel spreadsheet, but you can’t (or should not) just “wing it”.
A basic business plan has some basic parts, Executive Summary, Business Description, Market Analysis, Organization Management, Sales Strategies, Funding Requirements, Financial Projections. Squirmy, yet? Get used to that.
It’s easier to do than you think.
Are you focused and organized?
Again, you really need to be able to keep organized for workshops, social media, staff, ordering inventory, etc. We creatives usually suffer squirrel brain. We need to learn to focus on important tasks and business. You are going to want to be able to manage your time. This is a skill we can learn (how to tame our squirrel brains) but we have to be willing to become a planner.
Let’s talk money.
You need to have money to start. I get asked “how much do I need?” That is impossible to answer until you sit down and see what YOU need. There is a long list of things you need to get started. Signage alone will shock you. Legal, accounting, business fees, pos systems, renovations (double what you think it will cost), inventory, lightbulbs, merchandising products etc. (see now why you need a business plan?). You will need access to funds in case something happens. Trust me. (Someday I’ll tell you about my $1200 skunk story or just listen to the podcast!) You more than likely will not be able to take a salary for the first year. You need to know the reality of this.
it will take more time than you think, open hours plus after hours and days off, flipping the store, cleaning, ordering, staff training, maintenance and more, all things usually done “after hours”. Depending on your “season of life”, young family, grown children, empty nesters, etc., think about how this will affect your family.
Are you prepared to hire help?
You MUST have a plan to hire help. You would not open without paying the rent, or power, figure in cost for help, you need staff. It’s impossible to grow and keep up with the demands if you are doing everything alone. The painting, the bookkeeping, all the store hours, painting the furniture and making all the things, workshops, ordering, and trying to keep life running at home. Be prepared to hire help asap. Be prepared to not work in your store every day (gasp). You cannot do it all alone, your first hire I highly recommend is a bookkeeper,
Accountant, lawyer, a house cleaner, and staff for the store.
What are your goals for the store?
It’s also important to think long-term and not get caught up in the immediate excitement of it all when you find the cute little shop on the corner became vacant. What are your plans? Can you see yourself 5 years from now still running the store day after day in your store?
Another big question to seriously consider…do you like people? 🙈
Many creatives are introverts and don’t like socializing day after day with people, teaching classes, etc. It’s honestly exhausting being “on” all day, and don’t expect your staff to take over, although they will help, you must enjoy talking about and showing your passion for your products and creative passion. It can and is a great part of the job, but does it suit you?
Are you prepared to be the CEO of your business?
If you act like a real business and follow through, you will find success. If you treat it as a part-time hobby business your income and business will reflect this.
Here’s a hard question to answer?
Ok, I’m just going to put it out there. Are you opening this shop for you and your ego? Sorry, but I see so many people opening creative shops because “they are a good painter” or “I always wanted a cute store”. You need more.
What is your WHY?
A business needs to be profitable, that needs to be one of our why’s. A retail business needs to make money or it’s a hobby. Your reason for making money this way is another whole discussion. (We can have lots of reasons why we want to open a creative business, lots of beautiful reasons: self-fulfillment, want to give back, you enjoy people, etc,) but the primary reason to be a business is to make a profit. However, we do need a driving passion as to why weant to run a retail business. Your big WHY is what will get your through the hard days, it will be your guiding light. We can “make money” working in someone elses store. So we needd a good WHY and we need to know our business needs to be profitabe. Making a profit doing something you enjoy is awesome, and fulfilling.
Still with me?
My recent podcast episode on turning your hobby to a business can be heard HERE.
There are many things to consider. Running your dream store can be an amazing opportunity, it’s a wonderful way to share your passion, meet and connect with wonderful customers and spend your days working in a beautiful creative environment that you’ve created.
Are you scared? Twitchy maybe after reading this? If so, that’s good in a way, good things are on the other side of fear. But it’s important to be informed. Successful business owners face the fear with a plan. I have never met a successful retailer who hadn’t started scared.
Likewise, every successful retailer I know has a plan in place, has help and seeks our mentors and is continually growing and learning.
With a plan in place, eyes wide open, a coach, mentor or trusted advisor, and realistic expectations, you can capitalize on your creativity, put in the hard work and you CAN run a beautiful, profitable and creative dream business.
I, 100%, think it’s totally worth it!
You CAN do this, please just prepare for it.
It’s my honour and privilege to work daily with creative retailers and watch them grow and thrive. I hope this has been helpful to you in your journey to become a creative retailer.
I have created a special mini workshop JUST for those looking to take their hobby and turn it into a business…it’s everything you need to consider in detail to go from start to open your doors (with a great workbook) to help you through. You can check it out here.
You’ve totally got this! I’m excitedd for you!
Hobby to Business: Simplified Steps to Opening a Creative Retail Business
Join me for a 1.5 hour workshop where I will walk you through the steps to move your hobby business into a legitimate retail business, even if you’re a total retail beginner.
The workshop is taught in this intensive format to save you time, energy and money.
Finally get off the fence about whether you’re ready to open a retail shop and get the tools to choose the right direction for you and your creative biz.