We all have our own hobbies – things we love doing during our down time. We don’t earn from them, but we enjoy them and they help us relax.
For many people, a hobby stays as such forever.
But what if you could turn that hobby you enjoy into a thriving source of income? What if it could be your business, an exciting new venture, that helps you transition from being an employee to a small business owner?
One of the best parts of starting your own business is the ability to turn something you love into your career. Gone are the days where you’ll be working on something you don’t particularly enjoy but have to do.
Add to that how you’ll be able to be your own boss, sourcing from your preferred suppliers, deciding on your own strategies.
It’s ideal to start a business on something you know how to do (and do well). It shortens the learning curve and startup time all the while keeping you motivated to do something you’re passionate about.
What kinds of hobbies have been turned into businesses?
While not all hobbies have the potential to be monetised, some popular hobbies-turned-businesses include arts, cooking and baking, and crafting. Here are three stories from entrepreneurs who turned their passion into a business.
Jake Kalick is a co-founder of Made In, which is best known for their cookware and kitchen accessories. The company was born out of his love for the kitchen and food, which he learned from his parents.
His father ran their 100 year-old family kitchen supply company and would take him to their warehouse during the summer. He spent his childhood eating out at the restaurants his father worked with and it helped that his parents’ closest friends were restaurateurs.
Through the influence of his mum, Jack learned to appreciate good food and the process that goes into making it, like when they would make pizzas from scratch in their fully-equipped home kitchen.
This hobby quickly developed into a passion which Jake continued to pursue. After college, he moved to New York to work for a firm that consulted for restaurants and hotels. And in 2016, he and his business partner, Chip, founded Made In.
They partnered with manufacturers in the US and around Europe to release a range of quality kitchenware. In five years, they’ve grown significantly and they now ship their products to more than 50 countries around the globe.
Someone else who turned his hobby into his business is Jeremy Larner. Passionate for art collecting, he founded JKL Worldwide in 2013.
Jeremy was better known as a talent manager for reality TV star and skateboarder Rob Dyrdek. But he had always loved collecting art and, as soon as could afford it, he started to buy paintings from his favourite artists. In the process, he learned more about the art market and began buying more pieces for investment.
Today, JKL Worldwide is one of America’s top art dealers. They help build the portfolios of art collectors. Nearly a decade into this business, Jeremy is passionate about sharing its investment potential with his clients.
Carla Sue Greeting Cards and Gifts
Carla Lyles didn’t expect the immense growth of her business, Carla Sue Greeting Cards and Gifts, after she started it initially for herself. It was a part of her journey of healing after several years of battling depression. She could never find joy in working for someone else full time, so when she turned to her hobby of creating hand-crafted cards, it was therapeutic. Her designs are fun, witty, and sassy and her art style was so well-loved that orders began to pile in faster than she could imagine.
She then decided to grow her business seriously, researching some of the practices of larger greeting card companies and even taking classes.
Why turn your hobby into a business?
These stories are inspiring proof that anyone can turn their hobby into a business. And there are several benefits to managing your own startup.
For one, it creates a safe space for you to fully pursue the things you’re passionate about. It helps you develop your confidence so that you can explore what else you can do with your skills and how you can profit through them.
For many people, they work because they need to earn and survive. They don’t necessarily love what they do and they don’t always agree with their superiors and their decisions.
Starting your own business gives you complete autonomy that working for another person doesn’t. You decide how you do business in every aspect.
Since you have the passion for it, it will also be easier for you to talk and engage with external stakeholders, like investors, for their support. It will also help you gain entry into a new field, reach out to other small business owners, and grow your industry with them.
What to consider before turning your hobby into a business
Learning the ropes of running your own business requires a lot of dedication and it doesn’t all happen overnight. You should expect to be working on a schedule beyond your typical 9-to-5 and on different facets of entrepreneurship you never had to think of before.
And while some say the best time to do anything is now, careful planning is key to turn your hobby into a successful business.
For example, you need to map out the time frame you would need to get things up and running. How does this play into your personal life at the moment? Are you planning to make a major purchase in the next six months? Are you paying off any other liabilities such as a mortgage or a credit card debt?
Naturally, you’ll need to shell out a ton of money to lay the groundwork of your business. That’s a huge risk you need to be willing to take. It’s practical to meet with an advisor or accountant to help you plan out the next few months after your initial investment. Your career transition may also force you to take on freelance jobs to earn on the side.
These are all important aspects you should consider when making this giant leap. You also want to take your time to review the market you’re planning to enter.
Is there a ready-made audience who is willing to buy your product or service? How much are they willing to pay for what you offer? Who are your competitors in the industry and what are they doing well?
Many entrepreneurs tend to skip doing market research out of excitement over their business concept. But having a good idea isn’t enough to propel you to success.
You may love what you do now because, as a hobby, it’s not something you always get to do. But when it becomes your source of livelihood, the stresses of deadlines and selling may take away the relaxation you experience from it. This may also lead to losing your passion for it, which you’ll need to keep in check each day.
7 steps to turning your hobby into a business
You can’t rush into starting a business, but with time and diligence in doing the following seven steps, you firm up its foundation and position it better to succeed.
Step 1: Create a business plan
Before you even start a business, you need to develop a business plan. A business plan is a document that describes your objectives and goals and how you plan to achieve them.
The business plan you create will reveal the viability of your idea, its potential for growth, and any roadblocks that will hinder success.
Most business plans have the same elements, but they are rarely identical. Each entrepreneur has a process in mind that he or she believes is best for the business. But it’s a valuable exercise that will allow you to develop better strategies.
It also serves as a document you can approach potential partners with, as they will review your objectives and identify if it’s aligned with their goals and if it’s a good fit for them to partner with you.
Step 2: Build your brand
Branding refers to how audiences perceive your company. It’s the sum of all the parts that give it an identity. Your name, logo, and slogan all contribute to forming your brand.
It also includes several intangible factors. Your story, promise, and voice all form a memorable brand. Think about some of the world’s most famous logos. The golden arches of McDonald’s, the Apple logo, and the Nike swoosh are so distinct, people can recognise them in an instant.
When you build your brand, you control the impression of your company. You decide how to make it look polished, legitimate, and professional to make your audiences comfortable with you.
Without branding, you risk misconceptions about your business and what you offer.
Step 3: Advertise and market
Developing a unique, standout business concept is an important first step. But in the digital age, marketing to build credibility and recognition is equally important to staying successful. You want to stay relevant in the marketplace, and that means going to where most people are: The internet.
Quality content sits at the core of an exceptional advertising campaign. Today’s market is saturated with thousands of videos, social posts, and influencer marketing. So, to be able to sell your product or service (and your vision), you need to set yourself apart with personalised, relatable content.
Approximately 48% of customers spend more when their shopping experience is personalised. This is why branding plays such a pivotal role. When you’ve established your brand identity, you can shape a memorable experience for your customers.
Your best asset in digital advertising is your story. You want to reach as many people with it to bring awareness to why you do what you do. And one of the best stories you can tell is how you bravely took your hobby a step further and made it into your business.
You may feel significant pressure to get things right the first time. Instead of rushing into putting in money to get your name out there, produce a strategy first. What’s your story and how do you want to tell it? How do you plan to distribute your narrative on different platforms? And what results do you want to receive from this campaign?
Step 4: Identify your audience
There’s a lot of time, effort, and even money wasted when you try to cater to every consumer. Defining a target audience allows you to reach out with intention to people who are more likely to buy from you.
A target audience is a group of people identified as the most likely customers of a business. That means there is a benefit to waiting for them when they buy your product or service, whether or not they know it yet.
One drawback to having such a specific market is that companies become too focused on that segment of the population only. For your business to succeed over time, you need to frequently reevaluate your target audience.
You shouldn’t disregard other potential customers. So, continue doing market research to know new trends in your industry or spot shifts in buyer habits.
Step 5: Invest in bookkeeping
Despite their proven importance, many entrepreneurs dread accounting tasks. That’s why they invest in bookkeeping.
Bookkeeping is fundamental to staying on top of your expenses and projecting sustainability. An accountant keeps track of all your financial statements and produces reports.
The data you receive will help assess the current condition of your business. This will allow you to evaluate your current practices and make necessary changes to help you achieve your goals.
Step 6: Network
For many successful entrepreneurs, networking is a large contributor for reaching their business objectives faster. But to build a network, you need to know who to connect with that leads to new clients or partners.
Networking fosters a healthy exchange of ideas and conversations. Over time, you develop and sustain a relationship built on mutual trust.
Networking should always be two-way. Before you approach another business owner or brand to partner with, study how you can contribute to their success. Let them know as well how you can benefit from their knowledge.
It’s not always easy to find people, but just one new connection made could be the elusive one that helps you achieve what you want sooner.
Step 7: Find your niche
Your business niche is an area of expertise in which you specialise that differentiates you from your competitors. Finding your niche is important in transforming your business. When you can offer something that others don’t, you get ahead of the game.
A business niche helps you reach a market that is often underserved. For this reason, you need to understand what customer pain points you’re trying to solve and know exactly how to do it. This way, you can communicate your unique selling proposition and establish your competitive edge.
Some examples of a niche business include vegan soaps, food photography, and gaming accessories – business models that are so specific that have a market that will readily purchase from them.
Many entrepreneurs have created businesses inspired by their favourite hobbies and interests. But while it’s exciting, it isn’t all fun and games.
In fact, to truly succeed, you need to be prepared to do a lot of hard work, investing in the right strategies, consulting the best people who can give you advice.
If you need assistance with the financial aspect of turning your hobby into a business, reach out to us.