Transition from a hobbyist to a legit side business does not happen automatically and it requires intentional effort and action. When you begin to truly get serious and treat your business like a business things will begin to shift for you. You might not have all of your ducks in a row; however, you must at least have a purposeful intentional to operate as a business.

Here are a few business tips and action items to follow when transitioning from the hobby state:

  1. Write a business plan: no, not asking you to write a 30 page plan; however, you do need to right a clear path and vision for your business. You need to clearly map out what you offer, who you will offer it to, and how you will deliver it to the marketplace. Click HERE, I challenge you to try the easiest business plan ever. 
  2. Create SMART goals: which will help you clarify and build an actionable plan to achieve what you desire in your business. If you are not sure what a SMART goal is, click HERE and download a SMART Goals Template
  3. Have a designated work space. If you do not have a separate office, your kitchen table or a corner in your living room or extra bedroom will work just fine. 

  4. Have a designated workspace: it doesn’t matter if it’s a table in your living room corner or you take over the extra bedroom. You need a place to stay organized, spread out, and get to work.

  5. Set office hours: this is a tremendous help for all those people in your life who think you can just chat all day. Set your hours and stick to them! Tell friends and family, add them to your email footer, and put them on your website. It’ll help you stay focused during work hours and “turn off” from work afterwards.

  6. Have a separate bank account: how can you know what’s your business’ money if it’s mixed in with grocery trips? Plus, this helps the tax man and other legal stuff be legit and easy to organize.

  7. Keep track of your expenses: do you know if you made more money last quarter than this quarter? What about comparing holiday seasons? You won’t be able to track this if you aren’t keeping track of your income + expenses. Whether you use the old fashioned pen and paper, digital spreadsheet, or a software application, you need to get it organized.

  8. Utilize contracts: it is all too easy to get yourself in a pickle. If you are selling services, contracts can really save you time, headaches and money. It lays out the scope and protects you from client retaliation if something were to go south.

  9. Send out invoices: this not only keeps billable clients organized but helps act as a receipt for both of your records.

  10. Know your one sentence: I love Nikki Elledge Brown’s tips for this one. Know your sentence that describes what you do in a way that leads conversations.

  11. Quit working for free: it’s time you get out of the “portfolio building” phase and put dollars in your bank for what you do.

  12. Invest in yourself: need some mindset shifts, an accountability partner, or cheerleader? Consider hiring a business coach to help you stay on track.

  13. Invest in your business: maybe there’s a book out there that can teach you selling strategies or an e-course that can teach you how to master MailChimp. Learning from the experts may costs money, but can save you loads of time and patience.

  14. Talk about what you do: there’s no reason to hide what you do! Talk about it, shout it out, tell everyone, and be proud.

  15. Have a beautiful (and functioning) digital storefront: there’s no magic level or certain amount you need to be selling or bringing in before you worry about your digital storefront (i.e. your website). The time is now.

  16. Plan out your content: whether you write a blog or just have social media accounts, tailoring a plan not only will save you time, but give you a more holistic take on your messaging, focus and calls to action. Start tracking with this handy worksheet.

  17. Measure your success: It’s hard to know where to spend your time if you don’t know what is working. Make sure to check your analytics to see what posts are most popular, where your traffic is coming from and what just isn’t working. You might be surprised about what you find.

  18. Order business cards: you never know where or when you’ll run into a future client or customer, so be prepared!

  19. Ask for help: we don’t expect you to be a pro at everything. Recognizing where you might need some extra help is key to moving forward. Consider hiring out things you don’t have time for or haven’t mastered.

  20. Join a mastermind or networking group or creative club: having a support system can make all the difference! Find a group in your area to start connecting.

  21. Change what isn’t working: is there a certain marketing strategy that costs big bucks but just doesn’t work for you? Cut it out. Being in business is all about learning from trial and error.

  22. Give yourself a title: want to be called Boss Lady, Creative Director, CEO? Whatever makes you feel most legit, go for it.

  23. Order merchandise: there’s nothing like seeing your logo on your notepad every day or on the mug you drink from. Once you see a part of your business in real life like that it changes things.

  24. Pop up at must-attend events: be in your community. Snap amazing pictures and share your experience. People love connecting with people, so be a person and stop hiding behind what you sell.

  25. Know when to turn away business: it seems goofy that you would ever turn away a paying client, but if they aren’t the right fit, going to cause too much of a headache, or it isn’t the work you love doing, it is ok to turn people away. We give you permission to say no.

  26. Grow a tribe: There is strength in numbers and people love being a part of something bigger than themselves. See how you can start connecting with your clients or customers on and off line. Grow a community. Want in on ours? Join our secret society here.