SCORE

Irwin Myers is a prime example of how a hobby can turn into a business. He started his video production by accident in 1987.

“I got interested in video because I wanted to be the Monty Python of Chicago, producing funny and poignant comedy skits,” he remembers. When his wife’s boss learned of Myers' interest in video, he asked to have three videos produced for his company.

Myers realized his business was born.

Myers was comfortable behind the camera, but he didn’t feel as prepared to run his company, Video One Productions. Enter SCORE.

“The number-one challenge is to obtain clients who understand the value of having professional video production and are willing to pay for it,” Myers says. Alongside that challenge is deciding where to spend marketing dollars so they’re most effective.

Marketing a business by emphasizing value

Myers approached SCORE for marketing advice. He attended an email marketing workshop at his local library, but ultimately decided that email marketing wasn’t the best route for promoting his business.

“My industry is very competitive and constantly changing,” he says. “I have to be as aware as possible about where the market is going, but not too far ahead of it. Then I have to figure out the best ways to reach that market.”

Finding your mentor match can take time

Myers first met with volunteer mentors Arnie Goldberg and Mark Lieberman. But Myers ultimately clicked with mentor Peg Corwin. The two connect by phone every six weeks or so to discuss Myers’ business progress.

“She has provided me with marketing advice, marketing resources and other assistance which has allowed my business to survive and grow,” Myers says about Corwin.

Corwin has advised Myers on best practices for Facebook, Google Adwords, LinkedIn, blogging and other social marketing techniques. “As a result of her guidance, I am on page one of Google for several important keywords and obtain a steady flow of about two excellent bid opportunities every day,” he says.

Myers recognizes that all the mentors he’s worked with have been helpful, although eventually he found the best connection with Corwin. “Know what you want from [your] mentor and keep searching until you find the right one for you,” Myers advises.

What you need to make your hobby a business

Looking back, Myers knows the recipe for a successful business is a complex one. Passion, time, capital, research and energy all top his list of must-haves for new business owners. “If I had to choose one, it’s passion that drives everything,” Myers says. “Although resources — money — is a close second! Make sure you’re sufficiently capitalized to survive the first three to six months of business without a sale.”

Video One Productions has evolved to provide video production, digital editing, duplication and other related services for businesses and individuals in the Chicago area. Myers’ clients include trade shows, executives and companies who want to create training and marketing videos.

Want to turn your hobby into a business? Connect with your local SCORE chapter and meet with a mentor to discuss your small business dream.