Are you starting to spend more and more time thinking about your hobby and less time thinking about work? Maybe you’ve had people around you say, “You should turn this into a business! You’d be great at it!” Well, turning a hobby into a business could be one of the best things you ever do. If you’re passionate about your work, that will take you far when it comes time to be your own boss. The first question you should ask yourself is, will you still enjoy your hobby once you introduce the pressure of revenue generation and deadlines? If the answer is yes, then you should consider the steps below to monetize your hobby and turn it into a profitable business venture.
Ask yourself why
In one of my previous blogs, I talk about the importance of knowing yourself. Before even going down this path, it’s important to take a step back to consider WHY you want to start a business. Once you understand your why, it will be easier for you to stay committed and help you to convince others that it is a worthwhile investment. What is it that drives you? Do you want to turn your hobby into a business because you love it and want to share it with the world? Do you want to leave behind a legacy that you can be proud of? Are you looking for creative independence or personal satisfaction? Once you understand your why, you’ll be able to tap into that passion that will inspire others and enable you to turn your hobby into a successful business venture.
Brainstorm ways you could make money from your hobby
The first step is to think of ways that you could monetize your hobby. One way is to teach others to do what you love. For example, if you love scuba diving, you can open a dive center where you not only provide scuba instruction but also sell the equipment and accessories. Other hobbies can be taught online via a website. You might also consider selling, importing or creating a product or accessories for enthusiasts in your hobby. If you’re a hobby dog breeder, for example, you might consider creating a line of t-shirts for dog lovers. Another idea is taking your business experience and combining it with your hobby in a teaching scenario. So, if your business background is in marketing and you love photography, you could teach marketing to photographers. You can also speak or write about your hobby. For example, if you love knitting, you could create a blog around it (and if you don’t believe knitting can be monetized here’s a list of the top 100 knitting blogs to follow in 2018!). Finally, you can create tours around what you love. Maybe you love yoga and traveling so why not create a meditation and wellness tour company?
Start it as a side business
Many successful companies started as hobbies and side businesses before fully taking the plunge as full-time businesses. U.S. Army vet, Nick Palmisciano, started creating t-shirts as a hobby while getting his MBA at Duke. Thirteen years later, that hobby turned into a $20 million apparel and media company called Ranger Up. Another example is Christine Watanabe who was a tennis enthusiast. She searched high and low for a scorekeeper she could use during her games but just couldn’t find the right solution. Like many entrepreneurs, she invented her own. Today, Score at Hand, a tennis racket scorekeeper, is being sold online and in stores. Debi Fields of Mrs. Field’s cookies created a cookie empire from scratch. She loved baking and eventually grew it into a $450 Million business. You’ve also heard of something called Craigslist. Craig Newmark moved to San Francisco for a job in computer programming at Charles Schwab. When he was laid off, he made the most of the situation by using his severance package to start a small message board which coincided with the release of the early internet browser Netscape. With the addition of a job-listing section, the site, which eventually became Craigslist, boomed in popularity (today his net worth is estimated at $1.31 billion). Finally, a little thing called Facebook was started my Mark Zuckerburg as a side gig. Eventually it blossomed into a multibillion-dollar global company and today his estimated net worth is just under $70 billion.
Create a business (or escape) plan
Once you’ve proven that your hobby is viable as a full-time business, the next step is to create a business plan (here is a nice article summarizing the process step by step). This is where you’ll need to really understand your target market and financial projections. What does the competitive landscape look like? At what point financially will you be able to flip the switch from 9-5 job to business owner? How much money will you need to maintain in reserve? This is a good time to consider your positioning, pricing strategy and long-term goals. In this phase, you’ll also want to formulate a marketing plan and meet with your mentors and advisors to get their input. Finally, to hold yourself accountable, you should definitely create an implementation plan with specific dates and key milestones.
Just launch it!
Finally, the last step is to just do it! No matter how much planning you’ve gone through or how prepared you are, you’re always going to feel fear at this point. That is NORMAL. The key is not to let your fear interfere with your dream. Be prepared to test, learn and adjust your strategy along the way. My advice is to go all in, don’t look back and congratulate yourself on finally becoming the CEO of your own life.