Transforming your Hobby into a Viable Business
If you know the story of Bill Gates, you will be amazed to hear that his unconditional love towards his lifetime hobby helped him to build the mega-million software empire Microsoft. By the time he was 13, his hobby, computer programming, had already become a passion. While other boys of his age collected stamps, Bill was able to collect some money from a jumble sale, bought a terminal and wrote code for a tic-tac-toe game. His hobby paved the path for him to enter Harvard University and later he dropped out to start Microsoft. The rest is history and now, Bill Gates is one of the richest men in the world, thanks to his hobby.
Turning a hobby into a business might feel like an acid test if it is a matter of leaving your day job and pooling all your resources to be put into something that you had been doing as a leisure time activity. One has to really think carefully, not twice but more, before going to turn your after-hours passion into a realistic business venture. You might also be anxious about how your friends and peers will scrutinize your achievements and failures.
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However, every one of us would like to be our own boss. Like Bill Gates did, there are so many hobbyists who will break the shackles to start their own business. Even though it is going to take some time to pay their efforts off: a recent study which used data from a survey of 1,100 leisure-based U.S. business founders suggests that they are more likely than others to generate revenue, achieve a profit and have a deep commitment to their business. The beauty about these small businesses is that even if they pose many difficulties, the founders are working on a business that they love. Chances are minimal that they ever give up on that business, which allows them to grow their businesses at a steady pace.
People who hate to be a part of office politics or tired of being stuck in the traditional career path for years, are now moving away from their boring desk jobs. They are finding avenues to turn their joy and passion into a profitable business venture. However, as with building any other business or an enterprise, this comes with risks too. We talked to several Hiveage users who conceptualized their business out of a hobby. If you are keen on becoming a successful leisure-based business entrepreneur, these tips will help you to turn your hobby into a successful business.
The Burning Question
BPlans suggests that anyone who is determined to do so should closely consider their options and analyze whether it is the right thing to do. Many people have gone the extra mile and turned their hobby into a business but after doing that, most of them do not cherish what they loved to do during their free time. Pressure put into achieve bigger financial milestones and deliver unrealistic customer expectations has ruined it for some hobbyists, the article points out.
Here are some important questions that everyone of us should ask ourselves before turning a hobby into a business.
Am I really committed to achieving something out of my hobby?
This is very important if you are going to become a hobbyist-turned-entrepreneur. You maybe doing it for fun now, to relax your mind but when you turn it into your sole source of income, it is going to be a different ballgame. You have to expense every ounce of your energy and buckle down to achieve significant results. No time to goof-off if you want to turn your leisure pursuit into a successful business.
Can I sell what I am creating?
It is not just selling what you produce but you should be smart enough to sell ‘yourself’ also. You need to create a market to promote your products and earn your living.
Mo Seetubtim, Founder of The Happiness Planner and long-time Hiveage user said:
“Is there a market for it? Will people be willing to pay for what you do? If you can see yourself doing your hobby everyday for the next 10 years, you believe you’re amazing at your hobby and are better than most people at it, and people are willing to pay for your products or services, then I’d encourage you to turn your hobby into a business.”
It is a business, not a hobby anymore. Am I ready to work on deadlines?
If coding is your hobby and you have already started working on a new gaming application, you have all the time in the world to complete it and no one is going to bother you. However, if that has conceptualized into a full-time business and your client wants his project soon: you cannot be slow off the mark anymore. With the deadline looming ahead, you will have to do things much faster now.
Will I be able to survive financially?
With your hobby turned into a business now, you need to earn money to pay your electricity bill and the rent. When you do it for fun, hobby is a stress reliever but it is not the same when it becomes your one and only income generator. According to this article here, hobbyists will be in for a real surprise if they anticipate the same level of satisfaction could be gained from a ‘hobby-turned-into-business’ scenario.
Seven tips to turn your hobby into a business
However, nothing is impossible. There is always a way to achieve great success if you are determined to transform your hobby into a profitable business. We have put down seven important tips to start with. Let’s have a look!
1. Figure the right way
First things first:if you haven’t got a clue on how to run things, you are in a spot of bother. It is super important that you have a crystal clear idea about how you are going to turn your hobby into a business. If you are into cake baking, you need to figure out a way to make a fortune out of your baking skills. Work your magic on summoning up the best possible way to turn your after-hours passion into a business. It carries such weight that your entire future depends on how you are going to do it.
The author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement, Nancy Collamer suggests six ways that will help you to think of the best way if you are not so sure how things going to work. She points out by teaching others about your hobby, invent or sell a product/accessory for people who have a similar taste for your hobby, review or repair items which relate to your hobby, speak/write about your hobby, explain the business aspect of your hobby to others and create something like a performance tour around your hobby, will help you to figure out the ideal way to expand your hobby.
2. Plan it to perfection
You have now figured a way to turn your hobby into a business. Now, you have to do a lot of research about the industry you are trying to enter. This will help you to understand the technicalities of the industry, opportunities and challenges, and monitor how your counterparts work on their product. After extracting all the details, take sometime to evaluate your plan and the original idea. Do tweaks if you see any fallbacks, refresh it over time until it is perfect to enter the market.
Once your product hit the shelves, closely monitor its progress. Analyze all feedback, statistics you are getting from the market and use those responses as a medium to redefine important elements of the already panned-out business and marketing plans. If you feel you cannot manage the workload alone, build a team of employees to help the business and succeed.
3. Discuss your ideas
It is always good to have a second opinion. Peers around you are likely to have skills, ideas and experiences that you can use as an asset. It is always important to discuss your ideas with people who are going to directly or indirectly involved with you, when you transform your hobby into a business. Constant discussions and sharing of ideas with business partners, employees and entrepreneurs will set you apart from your competitors, as they bring a wealth of experience to the table.
Hiveage user Maria Izaurralde, who is the founder of Right Swipe Pics talked about the importance of surrounding yourself among fellow entrepreneurs:
“In the situation of turning your hobby into a business; you should always surround yourself with fellow entrepreneurs who have become successful. It is not important whether their businesses were formed out of hobbies or not. What’s important is, discussing ideas with people that are natural problem-solvers. It can help get you out of a mental rut and make improvements you never would’ve thought of otherwise.”
4. Treat it as a real business
It surely was what you loved to do in your past time. Now it is a real business and you need to treat it seriously. Open a new bank account for your business and apply for a credit card. You might also look at hiring a tax professional to know about the different taxes you should pay as a small business, as well as a legal advisor to advise you on keeping up with relevant legal implications related to small businesses. Invest on an online invoicing and billing software like Hiveage that let you send professional invoices, track time and expenses and accept online payments from a single easy-to-use platform.
Mo further writes about this in her blog:
Look deep into the underlying psychological side of why you love something and turn that into something you can apply to your work and career. And sometimes, you don’t even need to step away from your childhood dreams and hobbies. You just need to know how to turn what you’re good at into a valuable asset that people want to pay for.
5. Be persistent
According to Alden Mills, Founder of Perfect Fitness, you need to understand what success truly is. And most importantly, you need to make it measurable as well. Mills stresses if one wants to achieve success to be more happy, it is never a measurable goal. The true meaning of being successful is when you know what you want to be successful at and know when you’ve reached the goal.
In order to persist your life goal of turning your hobby into a business; you need to understand why you need to be successful and what it is that you want to truly accomplish. We have seen many people chase aimlessly behind something that others have viewed as success. When you truly understand the ‘why’ factor of your journey, it will be an easy task to figure your way towards success.
Be persistent enough to define your success goal and write it down in a piece of paper (in case you forget that). Break that goal into several mini-goals and work on a daily basis to fulfill them. You need strength to overcome barriers of negativism and doubtfulness to achieve your success goals. Take good care of your ‘reason’ to believe in your objectives, nurture it and reprogram the habits that are slowing down your progress towards achieving success. When you hit a roadblock, try improvising and find a way to overcome challenges. Listen to what experts in the industry have to say about overcoming an obstacle or learning a new skill. Since success is a long journey, views from experts will help you to be more focused and sharp.
6. Market your business
If you want your customers to think about you first when there is an opportunity for a new project, you need to get the word out quickly. Imagine your business as an opportunity to build new colleagues, like it is your first day on a new job. Reach out to every business associate you have worked with and ask them to recommend you for new business opportunities. Update your contact database on a regular basis.
Another brilliant way to market your business is to wear your brand, the BPlans article suggests. For example, if you are a designer, it is encouraging to wear a t-shirt with your company branding. It will create awareness about you and your product in an unorthodox manner.
As a small business, it is important to have an online presence. If you are ready to spend some extra hours to create great content, platforms like Google+ and Facebook will help you to grow your social presence. Social media is also a great platform to engage with your customers. Alternatively, you could create a blog or set up an online marketplace in eBay or Etsy. You can also list your business in an online business directory like craigslist.org or Yelp.
7. Go for it
Enjoy the path you have chosen. You will face many problems and do many mistakes. Let them be significant elements in your learning process. Learn from your mistakes and made adjustments so that you will not repeat it. Throw yourself fully into it and never look back.
One Hiveage user put it nicely:
When I turned my hobby into a business, I realized I had a lot to learn. There was a lot of time in the beginning where I was barely doing what I actually loved because I was preoccupied in learning completely new skills. Turning your hobby into a business can be a risky endeavor, but passion should be valued as a resource that you can tap into to find the energy and wherewithal to start and grow a business.
Your hobby brings peace and calmness to your mind and soul. Why not turn that into a business and work at something you love to do? The whole process, however, is full of risks. You need to be cautious and carefully consider the opportunities and challenges. There are many questions to be answered before you choose a path full of risks like ‘should I really turn my hobby into a business?’.
For those who are willing to go the extra mile, we have put down seven important tips. They are:
- Figure out the appropriate path
- Plan it accordingly
- Share and discuss ideas with your peers
- Think of it as a real business
- Properly market your business
- Throw yourself fully into it
Do you think it is safe to turn your hobby into a business? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
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