Turn Your Passion Into Profit

Making a living doing what you love doesn't have to be a pipe dream. Here are some tips on turning your hobby or favorite pastime into a profitable business.

and conferences where I met record company executives.”

By working those contacts, Thompson landed jobs at a number of record companies, including one at Polygram Records. “This business is all about relationships,” says Thompson. “By the time I started Frontline Marketing, I had enough contacts to use to begin representing artists.”

Robin Petgrave didn’t intend to start a business. Growing up outside Boston, a young Petgrave would sneak away to Logan Airport to watch helicopters take off and land. While working as a flight instructor for a small company at the Torrance, California, airport, he gained a strong reputation for his flying skills. His services were in such demand that he had a large clientele when he left that job. “I had no planes, but I had a number of people who wanted me to teach them how to fly,” says Petgrave, who opened up shop next door to his former employer.

Now 36, Petgrave teaches others the joy of flying and offers aerial tours of California through his Torrance, California-based company, Bravo Helicopters & Wing, which grossed $3.2 million last year.

THE PRICE IS RIGHT
For all the effort that you put into your product or service, you should establish pricing that is competitive and that will earn you a profit. Brandt says novice entrepreneurs often make the mistake of underpricing their product-especially when it comes to crafts such as jewelry, gift baskets or baked goods.

“Think about how much you want to earn per hour for your labor,” says Brandt. “The joy of your hobby can quickly turn to resentment if you realize you’re only getting the equivalent of $1 an hour for your product. You have to figure out exactly how much it costs you to actually create the product.”

Minor did just that when setti
ng prices for her clothing line. “Everything that goes into a garment has a price. I created a worksheet listing everything from the cost of the fabric to the thread and trim. From that, I get a figure of what it actually costs to make the outfit. Then I add my profit to get the wholesale price.”

If you’re not sure your price is a fair one, test it on the open market. Shirley Frazier, author of How to Start a Home-Based Gift Basket Business, has been making and selling gift baskets for 10 years through her company, Sweet Survival, based in Paterson, New Jersey.

“I had no idea what to charge when I began making my gift packages,” says Frazier. “I introduced them at a craft show to test the buying crowd and myself. During the show, I got to talk with the customers and find out if they thought the price was fair. The show only cost me $60 to exhibit, so it was a good investment to get that kind of feedback on pricing.”

MARKETING KNOW-HOW
When it comes to marketing your business, you have to be savvy.

“Try to get as much free coverage as you can,” says Brandt. “Newspapers are always looking for stories about local people doing

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