What Turns a Hobby into a Business?
As creative beings with desires, we humans naturally seek out productive ways to fill our downtime. We are pulled in directions that are as individual as we are. Some of us with abstract right-brain qualities may be drawn to painting, photography, music, crafting, etc... While those of us with left-brain qualities who gravitate toward math and science might turn our attention toward wood working or model building.
We all have a hankering to pursue these activities. Wouldn’t it be nice to bring in money while we do so?
According to Wikipedia, a hobby is considered to be a regular activity that is done for enjoyment, typically during one’s leisure time. And a business is any activity or enterprise entered into for profit.
Ok. . . So, an activity done during your leisure time that might earn you some money is a hobby. But, if you remove the words “leisure time” now it’s a business. Ahh!!
You have to decide for yourself if removing the “leisure” from your hobby feels best for you. It’ll take time, dedication, planning, and a bit of risk on your part.
Some things to think about:
· Do you feel the need to prioritize a full-time job? If you find you would rather spend time with your hobby than with your day job, it might be time to take a leap and follow your heart. This can be done in small steps, maybe cut back on your hours or take a sabbatical and test out your business before fully committing to it.
· Is there a market? Just because you have a passion for something doesn’t mean everyone else will want it as much as you think. Do some research to learn more about your likely customers. Don’t let this step turn into a barrier though, do enough to get started by confirming that your product or service has potential.
· Are you concerned that the hobby won’t be fun anymore? If you are already proficient at your craft, then adopting business practices like customer service, schedules, and financing will feel natural and fall into place among the many other tasks you currently do. You might hit a learning curve but keep going or hire outside help to handle the nitty gritty.
· Are you making money on your hobby? If the money coming in from your hobby can pay your mortgage, then it’s probably time to make it official. Once you’ve done the legal part, you can take advantage of tax deductions like writing-off expenses associated with the use of your home, the cost of materials, equipment, and shipping.
· Do you think you are worthy of charging for items you sell?
Hobbyists usually wobble on their pricing based on the buyer. If you’re comfortable pricing your merchandise or service at a level where you can turn a profit and not feel you have to compromise or haggle, you can stay firm and cover costs. Now you are in business.
Here’s a tale of two people, both enthusiastic about their hobbies, but with very different mindsets regarding the path they want to follow.
The first person is a very excellent photographer loves to take pictures of musicians. His friends ask him all the time if he does this for a living, and he always answers no. Even though he has a strong desire to share his art, he never sells his prints, instead he gives them away. He doesn’t want to make it a business because he’s afraid the pressures of working to a schedule, meeting financial goals, and dealing with customer expectations will take the fun out of it and make it too much like a job.
Next, there’s a woman who loves yoga. She started taking classes, became enamored with the practice, and immersed herself in the world of yoga. She, just like the photographer, had a strong desire to share her knowledge and craft. But she also wanted compensation for her time and talent. She became an official yoga teacher and charged money when she taught a class. At first this was still a hobby for her, something she did on the side.
Eventually her passion outweighed her aversion to taking a risk and she opened a yoga studio. She never thought of it like a job, it became her life.
There is a difference between having a hobby that puts a little cash in your pocket and running an official business. If you are so inclined to turn your leisurely pursuit into a monetary pursuit, make a plan, make it legal, and market, market, market. Hold on tight and enjoy the ride. It’s a good one!