Lukewarm Is No Good – Turning Your Hobby into a Business

September 18, 2017

Roald Dahl

In celebration of Roald Dahl Day  last Wednesday, someone posted the above quote from the multi-talented British novelist (and short story writer, poet, screenwriter, and fighter pilot) on r/GetMotivated on Reddit.

This quote describes an approach to life that some have naturally, but most pursue through self-reflection, hard work, trial and error. I’m part of the latter category, but what I love about my job is working hard to help my clients achieve their goal.

I’m fortunate to witness the pursuit of this lifestyle in various ways (I’m looking at you, members of CrossFit Hershey), but I see it most often in the entrepreneurs and small business owners that I have the privilege of working with. They have an interest, which turns into a hobby and at some point, they decide to take it to the next level.

So what is the process that someone takes when they’ve decided that their hobby should become a business? In my experience, here are the first few steps you should consider taking:

  1. Research and seek out mentors – check out the organizations in your area that provide assistance to entrepreneurs. Here’s a good place to start: Cost-Effective Resources for Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners
  2. Create a business plan – Putting your plan on paper…ok, on your phone/tablet/computer is always a good idea. Set measurable, achievable goals with concrete steps to achieve those goals. Seek out a template that you can use to get started. These resources from the United States Small Business Administration offer a good place to start:  Write Your Business Plan.
  3. Build your team of professionals – Once your business plan is in place, you’ll need an attorney, an accountant, a bank, an insurance broker and a financial planner to help you with each of their areas of expertise. For more information, check out my post Startups and Small Businesses: Picking your Business Team.
  4. Form a business entity – There are many factors that go into determining which business entity is right for you. Your legal counsel and accountant will help you determine the best type of business entity to form in order to get started, such as an LLC or a corporation. In Pennsylvania, this involves a filing with the Pennsylvania Department of State and preparing other organizing documents that set the rules for how the new business entity is governed. There may be other formalities that need to be observed depending on the type of entity you form and your business, such as permits, additional advertising or governmental approvals.
  5. Assess other legal needs and risks – In any new business, there is a seemingly endless number of tasks to accomplish. It’s important to prioritize and address these tasks, and your attorney can help you analyze the legal needs and risks specific to your business. It could be developing a standard contract to use like an independent contractor agreement or a services agreement, negotiating a lease for office space, or determining how to protect your company’s brand or intellectual property.

I hope that the steps and resources listed above will help you get started in turning your great idea into a business. As always, please contact us if you have an idea for another topic to cover in a blog post, if you have additional questions or if you would like more information about us and how we can help.

Matt Landis is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University Commonwealth School of Law and works regularly with business owners and entrepreneurs. Matt’s favorite Roald Dahl adaptation is the film version of Fantastic Mr. Fox.