Want To Make Your Passion Your Profession?

Nandita Iyer
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The handmade tale
This Handmade Life by Nandita Iyer is all about finding a passion and becoming really good at it. An excerpt from the chapter The Business of Handmade:

Find your USP

While you may have a broad idea of what line of business you want to be in, such as baking, pickle-making or jewellery-making, it is best to narrow down to one particular niche and answer the question ‘What problem am I solving?’ to bring something unique to the market. For example: baking with zero refined ingredients and added sugars, suitable for diabetics and health-conscious people, or making jewellery with

recycled materials. This not only helps grab attention because of your unique business idea but also helps draw a clear customer profile, which makes it easier when it comes to marketing.

Treat it like a full-time job

Family, friends and neighbours tend to take your availability for granted if you are working for yourself or from home. Right from the start, you should decide your working hours so that all other chores are completed before you settle in your work area with a do-not-disturb attitude. Working for yourself does allow some degree of flexibility, but that should be the exception and not the rule. As someone who

works as a writer from home, I have had neighbours invite me for weekday lunches saying I can always get my work done later. I rarely accept an unscheduled invite when I have deadlines as it means I will have to work late or on weekends to compensate for an

unexpected break from my writing hours. This also means you need to have a proper morning routine of waking up at a certain time, figuring out time for chores, exercise, etc., so you can show up at your desk at the same time every day.

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Treat it like a proper business

Get your business a name, tagline and a logo. Brainstorm with friends who are creative with this sort of thing or into advertising. Keep the name simple, searchable and easy to remember. Remember that everything should be Google search-friendly as an online presence is vital in the current times. If you are a healthy baking brand, then make sure the terms ‘healthy baking’ feature in the brand name or the tagline for better discovery. At the same time, don’t let the name limit your business drastically as you may want to expand to other product lines in the future. Outsource the legal work like registering the business and trademark, and any tax-related paperwork like GST to a competent

chartered accountancy or law firm.

Be money-wise

Check your current financial situation, calculate the amount required to start and keep the business running, and figure out any other liabilities, insurance requirements, etc., depending on whether you’re going to start it as a side hustle or a full-time business. It is

always recommended to not quit your current job while testing the waters of ‘hobbypreneurship’. It helps keep the boat afloat while also helping you fund your new business. This will no doubt require a lot of extra hours of work put in, but it is the lowest risk option.

If there is backing from family or an early investor, then you may consider quitting and working on your business idea.


Set goals

It’s always easier to work towards a goal. Be it allocating hours of work, personnel, investing in materials and so on. Goals could be long term or short term. They could be production goals (for example: creating 300 pieces of beeswax wraps in one month), sales goals (selling 100 cakes in a month) or social- media goals (increasing follower count on Instagram by 500 in a month). Keep the goals realistic, flexible and scalable.

Update/upgrade your skills

The biggest difference between pursuing a hobby and making it a business is that you’re no longer just baking cakes or making kombucha. You have to make the transition from being master of the creative process to Jill/Jack of all trades. In addition to the creative work,

there will be extra administrative work, dealing with vendors and suppliers, managing public relations and marketing, copywriting, becoming a social-media ninja, a spreadsheet expert, a finance expert, a photographer, a video editor and lots more. Some of this may come

naturally to you and some other stuff may be utter drudgery. Initially, it is a good idea to rope in family and friends who are good at each of these roles to pitch in so that you are not overwhelmed by too many things at once. Eventually, you will figure out what it is you are good at, what your kids can be bribed to do for you and what you may need to outsource. Using freelancers and online services like Fiver (where any service can be outsourced for US$5) is a good way to save money on these services. Legal and financial aspects need to be ironclad, so do hire the best help you can get in these departments.

In the online space, your product is only as good as its description and photograph. So make sure both of these are top notch. Pursue short courses in areas like writing, photography and editing to upgrade your skills to be able to sell your products. Many of these courses are available for free on YouTube or Coursera and on many other sites for a reasonable fees.

Excerpted with permission from This Handmade Life by Nandita Iyer published by Penguin.

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This Handmade Life