We choose our hobbies (or perhaps they choose us) because the process interests us, it's fun, and sometimes challenging. If your hobby results in a product or service--let's say, an Etsy-worthy craft, photography, or pet sitting--your family and friends probably benefit from it as well. When they go around singing your praises others may show interest in what you're doing. This is where the turning point begins. Suddenly, you realize that you have a budding business on your hands.
The decision to turn your hobby into a business should not be taken lightly. Most often, these hopeful entrepreneurs are not prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. They fail to consider the life-changes it will bring, and they don't ask themselves the right questions.
Give some thought to the following challenges, but don't stop here. Find a mentor to guide you through the process, because you don't know what you don't know. When you go in armed with knowledge and an outstanding product, the sky is the limit.
1. Your hobby will no longer be a leisurely process; it will be dictated by a deadline.
People view their hobbies as an outlet. Whether you enjoy an exhilarating hobby like mountain climbing or a creative process like making jewelry, you do it to fill a space in your life. A need for relaxation, exercise, stress reduction; whatever it is, there is a purpose.
But there's nothing leisurely or stress-free about being a small business owner. When your schedule is based on consumer demand, rather than your mood, how will it feel to you?
2. You will face criticism.
Whether you keep your hobby to yourself or share the bounty with others, you don't receive negative feedback. Naturally, it's different when people are paying you. You will field customer complaints, some of which will be valid. You will experience rejection.
Hobbies are often personal--a reflection of who you are. Criticism of something so close to your heart can be painful. Make sure you're up to the task of managing it in a healthy manner.
3. Financial demands have a way of taking the fun out of things.
There are many expenses involved in growing your hobby into a business. You may have to quit your job, hire a childcare provider, and rent space. Funds must be allocated to purchase bulk supplies, build a website, and sales and marketing efforts. When money is going into the business and there's not enough coming back to you, it's incredibly stressful. There's a psychological difference between doing something for fun and doing it to pay the bills.
Running a business can be fun, but it's a very different kind of fun. Start out on the right foot by consulting with a finance expert to get a more realistic idea of the costs associated with developing your business.
4. You'll need to find another way to relax.
There are certainly other rewards in running a business, but relaxation will not be one of them. You'll have to find another outlet for your stress. And, you'll have to know how to balance your time to enjoy that outlet.
5. You may not be cut out to be an entrepreneur.
If you've been told that you're so good at your hobby you should turn it into a business, then you're obviously talented. But do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? Successful entrepreneurs are tenacious, they make tough decisions and choices, and they aren't afraid of sacrifice. A great entrepreneur is a natural leader, innovative, and can envision the future of their company.
There is nothing wrong with you if you don't possess these qualities; you have strengths and abilities that many others don't. However, if you believe that you're cut out for the job, you will find great satisfaction in being an entrepreneur.
6. Like it or not, you'll be in the business of sales.
Do you have, or are you willing to develop, the tenacity and persistence of a great salesperson? Your skills will have to shift from those of the creative to those of a marketer and relationship-builder for your business to thrive. If you hate sales, now is the time to change your mindset toward the sales process and learn to love it. Not only will you have to sell your product or service, but also yourself. People want to do business with companies that are led by a capable CEO. More so if you seek funding, as investors put their money only into people they trust.
Okay, now that I've thoroughly discouraged you--there's something else you need to know. All of the growing pains, uncertainty, letdowns, and pressure to develop skills and talents that are not always innate don't deter a true entrepreneur from pursuing his or her dreams. Most entrepreneurs look back over the years and say that it was worth every bit of it. But there's something they wish they would have done differently: learn from others' mistakes instead of making so many of their own. Coaches, mentors, online articles, podcasts, conferences, and books written by successful leaders must be in your arsenal. Take every opportunity to learn from the mistakes that entrepreneurs before you have made. Because, accidental or not, every entrepreneur deserves a chance to succeed.