Turn your passion into profits!

Whether you enjoy raising livestock, creating crafts, growing a garden or designing a website, money can be made doing something you love.

Wonder how your passion for 4-H projects or hobbies can turn into a small business? Following your passion could turn into profits if you have a plan well. Follow these simple steps to develop a written business plan that can earn extra cash for clothes, college, a car or even a charity of your choice.

Define your product or service
When starting your first enterprise, identify a product you love making or a service you enjoy doing. Think about things you want, need or would use yourself. Also, think about what you do well? You may even have a majority of the equipment and materials needed to transform your hobby into a business. One key to a successful business is combining what you enjoy with what you are skilled at. Then describe your business and come up with a company name.

Know your customers and competition
Who would be interested in purchasing your product and/or service? This is called your target market. You want to have a clear description of your customer characteristics such as their age, sex, and spending habits. When analyzing the market, you will also want to know who your competition is. What are the strengths, weaknesses and price of your competition’s product or service?

Determine the price
Before you set the price, you want to know the true cost of producing the product or providing the service. Make sure to include hidden costs such as advertising, distribution and travel. If you fail to look at all the costs associated with producing your product or providing the service, you may set the price too high or too low.

Secure capital
How will you fund your new business? Most businesses start with funds from personal savings and loans from family and friends. You could also apply for a business loan through a local bank, credit union or even the Small Business Administration.

Marketing and sales
Marketing and sales is the last step in the process. Once you have a product or service priced to sell, it is now time to let customers know about it. When just starting out, look for opportunities in your neighborhood in which you could advertise your new business for little or no cost. Get permission to advertise flyers at your school, church, club or community organization. Moreover, think about where your customer shops and what hobbies or habits they have and advertise in locations they would visit. Developing a marketing plan will help save time and money.

Michigan State University Extension offers numerous resources, workshops and even one on one counseling to individuals who are interested in starting and growing their business. Plus there are many online business planning tools available and programs, curriculum and tools for youth who want to become entrepreneurs.

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