Are You Ready to Turn Your Hobby into a Business?

So you want to turn your hobby into a business. Maybe you're seeking a side hustle to supplement your income, or you want to dump your day job in favor of something more fulfilling. Perhaps you've been told by friends that you could sell those delicious cookies of yours. Or your husband thinks your should start charging for all of those free haircuts for your friends. You might be ready to take the leap from making crafts for fun to selling them on Etsy for cold hard cash. Is it time to put on your big girl pants and turn your hobby into your very own business? Here are four things to consider before making the plunge.

Are you ready to turn your hobby into a business?

Are you ready to turn your hobby into a business? (Photo Credit: Vadym Drobot, Depositphotos.com)

1. Outline exactly how you will make money.

Entrepreneur Stephanie Be built a business that allows her to travel the world. Stephanie traded corporate America for a gap year, but never stopped traveling. Now an award-winning “professional traveler,”  Stephanie shares her adventures and lifestyle through photos, stories and snaps on her Instagram account @StephBeTravel and Snapchat. Stephanie said, “I'm a big believer that your career does not define you. You can do things that you enjoy or that are important to you within or outside of your career. However, the difference between a hobby and a business is monetization. When you understand how to monetize on your hobby, it becomes a business.”

Stephanie, who calls herself an “entrepretraveler,” said you need to think very practically about what your business will need to succeed. “How much is it going to cost to sustain your business? How many hours is it going to take to sustain your business? What are your revenue streams? How will they scale? What are you offering that is unique? What problems are you solving?”

Developing a business plan will help you think through these details about your potential business. Not sure where to start? Many cities have Small Business Centers with classes and counselors to help you not only understand your business finances but also they may be able to help you find grants and funding for your small business. Books like Creating a Business Plan for Dummies and The 1-Page Business Plan are great resources for budding entrepreneurs as well.

Stephanie Be shows her boss skills while rock climbing ~ Are you ready to turn your hobby into a business?

Stephanie Be shows her boss skills while rock climbing (Photo Credit: Stephanie Be @stephBeTravel travel-break.net)

2. Consider tax benefits and liabilities.

Running your own business means you can deduct your business-related expenses and reduce your tax liability. If you're a photographer, you can write off camera, gear purchases and printing costs. If you're an artist, you can write off all business-related art supplies. If you're a professional traveler like Stephanie, you can write off travel expenses. You get the picture. Depending on your hobby and its business potential, that can mean big savings over the course of a year. Talk to an accountant to see how your expenses should be treated.

Running a business does not come without liabilities. You may want to consult a lawyer about incorporating your business to protect from legal snafus. If, for example, someone becomes ill from a bad batch of your cookies, you want to be sure it's your business that gets sued so you don't lose your shirt…or your house.

Turn your passion into something profitable ~ Are You Ready to Turn Your Hobby Into a Business?

Turn your passion into something profitable (Photo credit: Veles Studio, Depositphotos.com)

3. Being your own boss is boss…sometimes.

There is something deeply satisfying about being your own boss. Turning your hobby into a business is an enticing proposition. You're turning something you already love into a money maker.

Keep in mind, though, that turning a passion into a profession can suck some of the fun from it. Those things you loved to do just for fun can become annoying stressors when someone else is buying them. You suddenly have deadlines for your passion projects; they can't just evolve on their own, unless they can do that on your client's schedule.

Being your own boss means kicking yourself in the rear when needed. Remember that business plan focused on how you are going to make money? Success or failure falls entirely on your shoulders now. You don't have to stick to your original plan – all businesses adapt as they grow – but you should only change it if you have a better path in mind.

Being the boss means working when you don't want to. There's no one else to pick up the slack when you're feeling sick or tired. Of course, once you have the budget for employees, freelancers, or interns, you can delegate to your heart's content.
To keep your passion for your business alive, celebrate your milestones. Every time you reach one of your goals, from your first sale to your first million, look in the mirror and say “I did that! I made that happen! I am the boss of this!”

Being your own boss is boss...sometimes. Are you ready to turn your hobby into a business?

Being your own boss is boss…sometimes (Photo credit: Galina Peshkova, Depositphotos.com)

4. It takes time and energy to turn a hobby into a business.

Consider the time and energy it will take you to create and market your product. We all lead busy lives and it's easy to convince ourselves that we have zero free time. If you have a 40-hour work schedule and sleep about seven hours each night, that leaves 79 hours of free time per week. Even if you add parenting responsibilities, exercise, and housework to the mix, you are still left with hours to fill. But how do you want to spend them? Giving up Candy Crush and Netflix sounds great on paper, but will you? If you're serious about turning your hobby into a business, you should map out exactly how many hours you will devote to your endeavors. For best results, block out chunks of time in your computer calendar or day planner specifically for your business and stick to it.

Working for myself, doing the things I love: I couldn’t ask for more,” said Ella Stern, founder of the personal development website, The Lucky Truth. “My work genuinely doesn’t feel like work because I’m incredibly passionate about what I do. Being your own boss gives you freedom, flexibility and the power to control your finances. But it’s not always an easy ride. Often, you’ll work around the clock and there’s a huge amount of stress and pressure. But I like to think it's worth it.”

Are you ready to turn your hobby into a business?

Only you can decide if you're ready to turn your hobby into a business. Extra cash, being your own boss, and following your passion are quite alluring reasons to become a business owner. Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur, though, and that's just fine. You can have a very satisfying hobby without the stress of running a business. Know yourself, and trust yourself, and take the leap. Or not. It's all up to you!

Would you like to turn your hobby into a business? Let us know in the comments below!

About Paige Conner Totaro, The Startup Travel Mama

Paige Conner Totaro likes to help make dreams come true, whether helping people start businesses or helping people plan the trip of a lifetime. She made her own dream come true by taking a trip around the world with her husband and twin daughters in 2012 and is always planning the next adventure in travel or business (or both). Paige was a founder of Misra Records and Unquote Travel, a founding board member of the arts organization, Transformer, in Washington, DC; and a longtime board member and director of Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts. Paige is a fan of Scandinavian design, Ethiopian food, Arab hospitality, Japanese vintage stores, Brazilian music and Thai beaches, but also American craft beer, garage rock and roller derby. Can you see why her travel company is called All Over the Map? Connect with Paige on Instagram at @alloverthemap.

Comments

  1. I am my own boss since February last year. I totally love this free entrepreneur lifestyle, but it’s definitely not a walk in the park. It takes a lot of self discipline and being able to focus and not get distracted. And I most certainly do not work less than before, but sometimes sit into the night. Sometimes I really worry that I will not be able to make ends meet. But it’s still worth it! I grow as a person, I have no one but myself to answer to and no one else to blame or praise. And I can choose to acompany my daughter to the stables in the afternoon and instead work in the evening.

    Unless I’m forced to, I will never go back to being an employee.

  2. robin masshole mommy says:

    I get asked this SO MANY times by people just starting out. I will send them here to read this from now on.

  3. This is such a great resource! My blog is actually the result of turning my passion into a business, and I’m so glad I did. Great, great post.

  4. Great advice. Thanks for sharing. I decided to start my own travel agency and now instead of meddling in people’s travel plans, I have the privilege of helping others plan their trips as my job. Wherever there is a need, there is a service to provide.

    • That’s great, Tonia! I do something similar at All Over the Map Travel. I love helping people take great vacations! And it was the same for me; I was giving people advice on their trips anyway, so the business evolved pretty naturally.

  5. This is a great post. I have been my own boss for quite sometime and the first years were daunting. When things don’t go as planned, there is no one accountable for it except me. However, the good outweighs the bad and I am happy I made the decision to turn my back on the corporate world and start my own business.

  6. Pam Wattenbarger says:

    These are great tips for people wanting to learn to do what they love. Any hobby can be a business if you make a business plan and work hard.

  7. This is a great trend for everyone. If it is fun, and you can make money, well, how can you beat that combo? I make some money blogging, and I love it!

  8. I don’t really have a hobby that could provide me income, however my best friend does. I can’t wait to show this to her so she can decide if this would work for her or not.

  9. These are some great tips. I know that it was a huge adjustment for me.

  10. There’s really so much to consider! I am teetering on starting my own Etsy shop, but I want to go slow so I can be sure I am doing it the right way so it succeeds.

  11. It’s not an easy journey but it’s one that’s worth it! Who doesn’t want to earn money from something that they enjoy doing in life. I think these are very good pointers for people who are considering turning their hobbies into a business that they can earn from.

  12. I think it is important to really focus on your hobby to see exactly where the money will be generated. Don’t digress into areas that do not bring in income.

  13. Our Family World says:

    turning hobby into business sounds like a lot of fun! i like the idea!

  14. This is fabulous advice. I blogged since 1998 and finally in 2013 turned it in to my business, and haven’t looked back since. Its been the best thing I’ve done in a LONG time!

  15. Dana Valento says:

    i’m a DIY lover and i think turning your hobby into a business is a great idea! i would love to do that too!

  16. These are all great tips, especially the one regarding time and energy. It took quite awhile to build my brand, but I love what I do and I am happy I pushed through the struggle.

  17. There are so many pieces of the puzzle to making your hobby into a business. Making all those pieces fit and be successful is a huge, gigantic commitment.

  18. I was 16 years old when I started traveling and soon it became a passion more than a hobby. I’m so glad I started a travel business. Thanks a lot for the beautiful tips.

  19. Thank you, Paige, for this Interesting post. These are very helpful and informative tips. very amazing photography . Loved it:)

  20. These are such great tips! Thanks for outlining how to get started -sometimes the Hugest hurdle to getting started is turning a dream into a reality I feel like these are great reminders of the reality of getting it done!

  21. The tax part is no joke. You don’t realize how much truly goes into it!

  22. I love love love what you share here – every part of it is so true!! I’ve been my own boss since 2011, and I’ve gone through just about every emotion there is! But at the end of the day, it’s definitely worth it!

  23. Along these. I like to add that people should also have complete dedication. There are sometimes when we don’t get what we planned, at that time, only dedication and patience will help them out.

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