Should You Turn Your Hobby into a Business? 5 Questions to Ask
The legendary Reg Park, mentor to Arnold Schwarzenegger and 3-time Mr. Universe was a British bodybuilding icon. He went on to star in several feature length movies as Conan and even had a brief stint in Hollywood.
But his fame and fortune was built on humble foundations: He did what he loved and he got paid for it. In his twilight years, after the fame and fortune had been achieved, one of his students asked him for valuable life coaching tips. Reg Park smiled warmly at the student and said the following, ‘Find something you enjoy doing and then get paid for it!’
Of course, not everyone is able to turn a bodybuilding hobby into a Mr. Universe title with millions of dollars in endorsements, competition winnings, book sales, and gym revenues. But, it’s entirely possible to turn your hobbies into profitable businesses by following the ABCs of common sense.
#1 How do you know if you’re in business or not?
For starters, the objective of being in business is to generate a profit. Not-for-profit businesses also exist, but their goal is the provision of goods or services for the greater good. Profit motivates us to expend time and energy in such a way that we will generate more output than input. If a business is profitable year after year, it remains in business, but if it begins to incur losses, they may not be able to be written off as business losses and the tax collector may perceive the business to be a hobby. So, hobbies are engaged in for the purposes of fun with no profit motive. Once you seek profit as your outcome, your hobby becomes a business.
Hobbies such as making sushi rolls at home, baking doggy treats, writing opinion pieces on politics, or even editing transcripts for friends and family are typically things you enjoy doing in your own time. Are you prepared to work according to a different schedule? In other words, are you ready to step it up a gear and work with a strict set of guidelines, a business plan, clients who are paying you and expect a certain level of service excellence and so forth. If you’re planning on selling your hobby skills to customers, then you are accountable to them and their needs. Once you accept payment, you have entered into a business transaction and you must deliver.
This is a curious question, but a little elucidation makes everything much clearer. Hobbies are typically things that we do in our free time. They are fun-filled activities that give us a degree of satisfaction or fulfilment. Hobbies could include playing with your dogs, building a terrarium and managing it, detailing your car, renovating your home or any other pastime. If your hobby is what you do for fun, you will have to find a new hobby if it becomes your work. As stated in #2, anything that you are paid for has to meet certain requirements, deadlines and customer standards. Keeping your bathrooms and toilets clean may be fun and relaxing, but it’s not so much fun when you’re doing it for other people all day long!
You may have a fantastic ability on the computer, with your artwork, cleaning skills or mechanical ability. But the real question is this: do you have the resources, the self-confidence and the business savvy to get your brand to the masses? Can you sell yourself effectively? If you lack the skills, chances are your hobby will remain a hobby and not a business. Businesses require exposure and that requires lots of work. You simply have to be prepared to make that sale, and to push harder when the push-back comes your way.
Here is a classic example of a hobby that can be converted into a business with the right mindset: poker! Millions of poker players around the world enjoy this game as a hobby, playing with free chips online, or among friends. However, a small and growing number of poker players are turning pro in the hopes of using their mathematical prowess to profit off their poker skills. Much the same is true of casual blackjack players who turn professional – doing what they love and getting paid for it.