Below is a guest blog post by Tina Forsyth…

Up until about 2 years ago I would say that I had more of a hobby than a business…

I’ve been “self-employed” since 1999, working online for many years as an Online Business Manager for my clients and doing a few other things here and there. And then a couple of years ago I decided that it was time to branch out in a bigger way… I wanted to help other people become Online Business Managers.

I remember the moment where I made the decision to write my book – I was very clear that it was a turning point for me. If I was going to write this book and start truly helping others become Online Business Managers then I was going to need to actually “create a business.” There was no turning back.

Sounds funny to say, but even though I’d been self-employed for many years up to that point already I didn’t actually feel like I owned a business… for the simple fact that I never looked at myself as a business owner. I was just doing something I loved, working for some great clients and enjoying the freedom that came alongside having choice in my work. It really felt like more of a hobby – something I was doing for fun but didn’t have any big vision or purpose behind it.

I wasn’t taking my business seriously, or rather I wasn’t taking MYSELF seriously as a business owner, and so things were essentially flat lined – not bad, not great, just good. I quite honestly got to the point where I was bored – I needed to either step it up or shut things down (and I’m sorry, but going back to wearing pantyhose isn’t an option for me).

And for me, stepping it up meant embracing the fact that I own a business.

So what makes something a business vs. a hobby?

Now I certainly don’t claim to be the expert here, but a few of the things that have made the difference for me are:

  • Why are you in business? Is it just for you or are you looking to make a bigger impact? For the longest time my business was just about me – I wanted to work from home so I could have freedom/flexibility in my day for me and my family. And this served me for many years. However once my girls got a bit older and the family stuff settled down I started to get the itch to make a bigger impact via my work… my business became bigger than just me.
  • Have you invested in a coach or mentor to help you get clear on strategies to build your business? Or are you just winging it as you go? Until I hired and started working with my own coach last year I never saw the possibilities of what my business could be. I’m a FIRM believer that if you truly want to make an impact on the world you need to have a coach to help you here – help you define your business, set goals, keep you accountable, kick your butt when needed.
  • Do you have the right business structures in place? This one is a BIGGIE, and something that my friend Alexis Martin Neely illustrates beautifully in her LIFT Manifesto (which is required reading imo – get your copy here). If you are in business you need to get the proper structures in place – taking care of the legal, insurance, financial and tax side of things. These are the things that many of us dislike and/or try to ignore… and if we aren’t careful they could truly make or break our businesses.
  • Are you willing to hire the help you need? Or are you trying to learn and do everything yourself? I know many folks who try to save money and do everything themselves – this is impossible if you want to grow a business. Not only will you run out of time (especially as things grow) you will not be able to do a good job of everything… and your business will suffer for it. You need to be willing to invest in getting the right team in place (which of course is what the THRIVE Hiring System is all about).
  • What do you call yourself? For the longest time I told people I was self-employed… and then a couple of years ago I started saying that I owned a business. At first it felt kinda funny, almost like it didn’t fit? But I knew I wanted to be that person – someone who owned a business – and now I am.

Tina Forsyth is the author of Becoming an Online Business Manager: Playing a Bigger Game with Your Clients and Yourself. She writes and consults in advanced online marketing and business systems for business owners and their support teams.