Turning Our Hobbies Into a Small Business

When working full time wasn't enough to pay the bills, my husband and I decided to turn our hobbies into extra cash. Instead of tinkering with his own computer, my husband began fixing the computers of friends and co-workers. And I started tutoring children in Hebrew and English.

How We Initiated the Business

We started by choosing a catchy name for the business (Just 2 People). We spent an evening designing a website. We chose a business logo that would capture the essence of who we were and what set us apart from others. Our logo was: If you want to learn, we'd love to teach you. Implementing the company name and logo, we designed two flyers, one to promote our computer education and repair services, the other to promote our language education.

How We Marketed Our Skills

We distributed the flyers to friends, co-workers, and family. We hung flyers at the nearest community center, neighborhood supermarket, and YMCA. We distributed flyers in all our neighborhood mailboxes. And finally, I hung flyers at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) to advertise my Hebrew lessons, while my husband left flyers at the computer store where he built his previous computers.

Setting Up a Professional Store Front

We dedicated my cell phone to the business. I answered incoming calls with a professional greeting ("Thank you for calling Just 2 People"). I kept a business calendar and scheduled all appointments. Lessons and computer repairs were done in people's homes or offices, so we had no need of putting together a home office.

Rewarding Referrals and Repeat Customers

Our initial flyer distribution brought in enough lessons and repairs to fill up our weekends and a few weekday evenings. We requested payment at the end of each lesson. We attached our business flyer to the receipt and offered one free lesson for each new customer referred to us. We also offered lesson packages at a discount (10 lessons for 10 percent off the usual price, five lessons for 5 percent off).

Offering Value Beyond Our Services

We created a tips section in our website; one for our computer education, the other for English and Hebrew. Our tips included recommended books and websites. In addition, my husband and I each started a blog in which we answered questions and shared lessons about our specialty. We also joined online communities, where we could share our knowledge and place a plug back to our own blog and business website. In this way we established ourselves as experts and increased our business exposure.

With time, our hobbies turned into a successful small business that doubled our income. Providing excellent service at a fair price led to word-of-mouth referrals. People felt safe to invite us into their homes because they discovered us not through an anonymous newspaper advertisement but through the recommendation of someone they knew.

More from Tal Boldo:

How I started my flower business with $150
When My Career Ran Headlong Into Motherhood
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