Let’s say you love playing the guitar or spending the day paddle boarding and you’re like, “Hey, why don’t I turn my hobby into a business?” After all, you’ve heard that if you “choose a job you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
But before you quit your corporate job and jump into entrepreneurship, Bplans suggests you ask yourself the following questions first:
Will your hobby still be enjoyable when it’s on a deadline? For many people, hobbies are leisure opportunities to learn, to create, or to unwind. But when you’re selling your products or services to others, there are often deadlines involved. Will time constraints change the way you feel about your hobby?
“Turning a hobby into a business requires critical insight into your passion. I think we’re naturally reluctant to question passion, usually for fear of diminishing or tainting the high we feel without thinking.”
“Don’t be afraid to explore the root drivers of your enjoyment. It’s essential for transforming a hobby into a successful business.”
Will you still enjoy your hobby when it’s the only thing keeping a roof over your head? Sure, turning your hobby into a business sounds like good fun, until you find out that if you don’t sell your products or services, you won’t be able to pay your electricity bill. Are you willing to take that risk?
“It’s great to dream big and have lofty goals, but idealism without a dose of realism doesn’t work all that well…remember that if this is your hobby, you don’t have to immediately turn it into a full-time job.”
“Dream big, but start small. Freelance a few hours a week; see how the demands of your hobby align with the realities of the industry. If your hobby, and all its demands, is still enjoyable after you’ve done it for a while, that’s a clear signal to start growing your hobby into a business.”
Are you 100% committed to your hobby? If your hobby is something you do when you need to wind down at the end of the day, or relax yourself for a few hours before bedtime, then you need to consider how dedicated you’ll be when necessity demands that you do your hobby all day long as your full-time job. Will you grow bored, become distracted, or wish you were doing something else?
“Just because it’s a hobby doesn’t mean you don’t treat your work like a business. It’s okay to have fun and love what you’re doing, but if you’re not going to be serious about it, you may as well quit pretending…”
“One way to keep yourself in check is to establish the number of hours you’re dedicating to turning your hobby into a business. Stick to that schedule, at least at the beginning. If you start slacking and cutting corners, that’s a bad way to start…”
Will you enjoy the challenge of marketing your product or service? When you first start out, you’ll be wearing a lot of hats, from customer service rep and CEO to brand ambassador and marketing strategist. Making your first sale to a customer is the most important one, and usually the hardest one to get. Are you up to the challenge?
“People think about marketing as something for “down the road” or “when we’re more established,” but you need to start your marketing on day one…have a marketing plan before you start. A marketing plan should be part of your overall strategy. If you have a sound marketing strategy prior to launching, a plan further helps build a little suspense and anticipation.”
Are you confident enough sell your products or services? If you’re too modest or gun shy about what you have to offer, or you don’t feel comfortable trying to persuade people to buy your products or services, you might find entrepreneurship to be particularly challenging.
“Getting the word out about your new business is key, if you intend to make any money. You need to leverage every contact — every client, acquaintance, friend, family member, co-worker, teacher, mentor, etc. Some might even hire you and help you spread the word. This could turn into referrals, and next thing you know, you might have people looking to hire you.”
“Word of mouth is probably the oldest way to advertise, and still one of the most effective.”
German music composer and record producer, Hans Zimmer, once said, “If something happened where I couldn’t write music anymore, it would kill me. It’s not just a job. It’s not just a hobby. It’s why I get up in the morning.”
Do you feel that way about your hobby, too? If you’ve asked yourself the five questions above, and you answered each one of them with a resounding “YES!”, it might be time to think about turning your hobby into a business.