Whether it’s photography, baking or accounting, starting a business always comes with a whole lot of stuff you likely know nothing about, and learning to find your way is quite the journey. Below CEO Today hears from Nakul Sharma, CEO and Founder of Hostmaker, who discusses the some of the early challenges involved in turning your hobby and passion into a thriving sustainable business.
Starting a business from scratch and stepping away from a full-time career can be a scary decision, but if you decide to take the leap it can be extremely rewarding. I faced this decision in 2014, when I decided to leave my job to work on my hobby full time, and fortunately my gamble paid off and we will be opening our fifth office in Lisbon this year.
I had spent years working in the hospitality industry and but had always been fascinated by the growth of Airbnb and started to work on idea at home that would see a new level of hospitality introduced to the homestay market. I worked on this for over a year before I decided to commit to it full time, and it was taking my time that was crucial to the current success of the business. Knowing when to scale a business is one of the hardest things when becoming an entrepreneur. You hear so many horror stories of business that ran before they could walk, going to market with a semi-formed idea that fell apart at the first test. If you are thinking of developing a hobby into a business, begin by developing your hobby as a side-venture, and then, when you can afford to, take the plunge by turning it into your full-time occupation. Starting small, but think big is a great mindset to get into when starting out.
When starting a company or creating a service, it is also important to remember to draw on your own experiences and problems. Remember that the problems that you face will be faced by normal people, who will be willing to pay to help solve those problems by giving them a product to fix it. By focusing on your experiences and thinking about the problems faced from a potential customer perspective, you are instantly given a direction to help you grow your business.
The most important thing is to not underestimate yourself. There will be lots of people who will have tried and failed and are now trying again. With passion, enough time, and always thinking about the problem it will become easier and easier to grow a successful business. You have got to have confidence in your own experiences, drive and idea to make it a success.
As mentioned before, passion is vital to any small business. Although there might be more experienced people in your field, passion over expertise in the early stages of any company will help drive it forward. This principle is the same for when you are looking to hire people. Find people who are passionate about the product that you are offering. Without the shared drive of you and your staff a business in its early stages will struggle.
In terms of technology, use what is available to you to start with. Investing huge amounts of capital into technology that you do not need or know how to use is a waste of cash. When we started Hostmaker, it was powered entirely by Google and its various apps. These were cheap or even free and allowed us to save money on tech but was also very user friendly so fulfilled the need perfectly. As we grew, we were able to invest in, develop and use new custom-built technologies that helped our business grow even more.
The only people that want to see you succeed more than you are your friends and family. Use them as often as you can. Whether it’s for sounding out ideas or as your testing ground, for feedback and advice. When we started Hostmaker we used their friends’ homes to help develop the service, and used their feedback to help shape it into what it is today. This saved a whole lot of time and money as well as reputation when we offered the service to market.