Do You Have a Business -- or a Hobby?
By Sandra Martini

I'd like you to take a step back, look
at your business as an outsider would
and ask the question "Is this a hobby
or a business?"

Put aside the anger that immediately boils to the surface because, after all, you are
working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week; eating and non-sleeping this entity known as
your business with little financial return and look at it objectively.

There will come a time (if it hasn't come already) when you get up one morning,
exhausted and overwhelmed, and ask yourself "What happened to my vision of
carefree self employment where I'm my own boss, there's plenty of money and I'm
a raging success? Did I take a wrong turn on the road to success?"

Be thankful for that day. That is the day you realize you have a great opportunity: to
step up and act like a business (and recognize the limitless possibilities) or keep
playing with your "hobby" (and be realistic about your income potential). Up until that
point, chances are you've been more focused on your specialty (bookkeeping, massage
therapy, virtual assistance, etc.) than on running your business (think "technician"
rather than "manager").

As a "business", you must focus on the future and look at planning and revenue. As a
"hobby", you focus more on today.

If you wish to create a business, especially a successful one, you must have certain
success indicators in place (just ask the IRS):

1. You have a business and marketing plan.

If you want your business to be successful for the longer term, you need to define what
"successful" and "longer term" mean to you. Your business plan must be written and
adaptable to the change that will happen.

I strongly recommend that you have a separate marketing plan which outlines the
activities you will do to attract more clients. Your business and marketing plans should
be living, breathing documents which you use to keep on track.

2. You act like a business.

Your business has its own identity or brand. You have a "look", possibly a tagline and
cohesive marketing materials.

Your email address has your domain name in it (e.g.,
rather than you using a generic account such as

And, most importantly, you are not mixing money between business and personal. You
track your business income and expenses in a software such as QuickBooks and not in
a shoebox timidly carried to your accountant each year.

3. You're making money.

Your business needs to be holding its own and then some. OR, at the very least, well on
it's way to profitability. You can't be drawing out of your savings or racking up credit
card debt with no idea of when you will actually start making money.

Hobbies can cost a lot with no hope of financial return aside from the sheer pleasure of
engaging in them. Businesses can not.

4. You have a team.

As a solopreneur, there is only so much you can do. . .and do well. To build your
business to the point where you are focusing only on your core strengths (which should
be the same things that bring in the revenue), you need someone to delegate to.

5. You continue to learn and improve.

As a business owner, you must continuously review what's working and what's not in
your business and make changes accordingly.

Personally, I do two things to insure that my business (and I) continue to improve: 1/ I
invest in myself by hiring good coaches -- I currently belong to a very small, high end
Mastermind program run by Alexandria Brown in addition to working with another
coach who consistently challenges me and 2/ I created a "Flash Report" for my business
-- one of my virtual assistants populates the report and sends it to me each Friday. It
tells me what's working and what needs tweaking within my business (more on this
coming soon).

If you dream of a business where you fulfill your passions, work less, yet make more
while making a difference in the lives of your clients, these are just a few of the
indicators that you want to insure are in place. The proper systems will do more for
you than a thousand networking meetings. :-)

I challenge you to take a hard look at your business over the coming days and see
where you can improve - - make a list and choose one indicator to work on over the
next 90 days.

About the author: For the past 5 years, Sandra Martini has been showing self-employed business
owners how to get more clients consistently by implementing processes and systems to put their
marketing on autopilot.  Visit Sandra at for details, compelling client
testimonials and her free audio series "5 Simple and Easy Steps to Put Your Marketing on

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