Our careers are often rooted in people or events from long ago. One source for Beth Gibson Lilja was her mom, a crafter, who was always making things. Eventually Beth’s mom (Janet) began selling at craft fairs. If you have dabbled in a hobby that has become your passion, how do you know if it could become your career? Rule #1: Do not sell yourself short.
Beth’s mom crafted many things mainly out of plastic canvas and much more. Her haunted houses were a huge hit. She sold them for a ridiculously low price of $25—despite the hours she spent perfecting each one. A friend saw Beth’s haunted house and insisted on one. Beth announced they were $75 (knowing her mom charged $25.) Her friend said, “Is that all??” When Beth told her mom—she was dumbfounded. I told my mom, “Stand proudly behind your price. You’ve done the work.”
Now others may abhor haunted houses. For them, the value is zero. Rule #2: “Find your specialty,” says Beth. “We’re not everything to everyone. We have our niche and we do it well. Find the people who do value your work.” Do not focus on converting those who do not love your product, simply find those who do. And if what you do can be differentiated in some way from similar things, you are on your way to a premium price for your goods or services.
How do you do that? Research. These days it is a breeze to check Google, Etsy, Craig’s List, E-Bay, Shopify, and so many other sites to see what is available, what is selling, and for how much. Online sales are booming. According to Xcart, retail sales from eCommerce websites will total to $2.3 trillion in 2020. You are only limited by Google and your public library’s extensive research tools. All you need is a library card. So, go ahead, start researching your dream. It all begins there.
In a nutshell, if you are willing to take calculated risks, have a valuable product or service, have an advisor(s) to help you plan and organize, are resilient, thrive on “thinking outside the box,” can sacrifice your salary for a time and love what you do, read on.
As ideas percolate and you develop a vision, it is time to consider the pros and cons of entrepreneurship. These articles will get you started. First, signs you could succeed as an entrepreneur:
Ross Simmonds “40 Signs You Have What It Takes to be an Entrepreneur.”
Inc. Magazine offers 12 insights on what it takes to become an entrepreneur.
Now, the challenges:
Or, Neil Patel’s 7-signs-not-cut-entrepreneur advice on those who should not look to entrepreneurship.
After all, statistics indicate that 50 percent of new businesses fail after five years. However, 40% are due to a bad fit, followed closely at 38% from lack of time and involvement.
Good research, an honest self-assessment and coaching from Beth can reduce the risk of a bad fit. If you have the time and are passionate, you have eliminated more risk.
Now, focus on the rewards. Beth loves it because of all the relationships she has built over the years. All the people she has met. All the things she has learned.
How about you? What are the benefits you foresee from converting your hobby to a business? Dream a little. Dream a lot. Research. Then, call Beth. She will be eager to help you weigh the pros and cons and maybe direct you to the rewarding and fulfilling life of a solopreneur.
If not now? When? Good luck.