Family Finance

Upcycling: make it your business

A hobby can be made into a successful business venture in a few easy steps, writes Jen Vuk

'Upcycling' seems to be the word of the moment, but it can also be much more than a passing hobby. If seen in the right light, upcycling, which is basically converting used or waste materials into new materials or products of better quality, is also a great business opportunity.

Classic upcycled products include designer handbags decorated with old chocolate wrappers, soft drink tops or even old seat belts; or jewellery fashioned out of old buttons or washers.

An upcycling business is ideal for those entrepreneurs interested in working from home.

Here are a few handy tips to help get you started:

What's your interest?

Perhaps the first thing to do is to hone your interest. What exactly is your area of expertise? Do you like sewing or crafting? Or is recycling furniture more your thing? Or, perhaps, you have an eye for fashion and know how to turn that dowdy 1980s outfit into something more modern? The point is to find your talent and stick to it.

Is there a market?

Once you've worked out your area of expertise then it's time to look where to place it. Try to identify a gap in the market that you can tap into. Put your personal spin on your own line of products, maybe for pets or children's bedrooms, for instance.

Do some short courses

Before you begin it's always a good idea to do a few short courses. Small-business courses give you the skills you need to set up, manage, market and run all kinds of operations. If you don't have the time to commit to onsite learning, there are a number of online courses available.

Make a business plan

It's important to prepare a business plan when starting or growing your business and review it regularly to keep it up to date, because a business plan allows you to set out your goals and objectives, and also chart where the business is going.

Before writing your business plan, consider the need to research your idea, your competitors and the marketplace. Look online for examples of business plans as well as free templates.

Get busy

Take the plunge and practise on anything and everything. The more you practise, the better you'll be. Making mistakes is a big part of learning and it also helps you find your own style and grow in confidence.

Remember, we're often our own worst critics, but chances are there's a niche market out there lying in wait for your unique product. What have you got to lose? ?

Used with permission. This article first appeared in the Salvation Army's Warcry magazine.