Should I Turn my Hobby Into a Business?

Rebecca Moulding

Short answer: yes, but be mindful of these maxims

If you make cards or bake cakes, someone will have said: “They’re so good! You should sell these!” Maybe you’re a shoulder to cry on and offer practical advice. Have you considered a life-coaching business? Product or service, hobby or skill; you wonder if self-employed is the key to success. But the real question is this: do you want to turn your hobby into a business?


What if the thing you love turns into something you hate? There are many“ifs” and “buts” to contemplate. Here is advice to help you decide if business is right for you.


1. Full time vs spare time

Hobbies are activities enjoyed in the evenings and at weekends. They help you escape from the stresses and strains of the daily grind. If your hobby is your job, what is there to come home to?

That being said, research shows that the self-employed are a happier bunch of people. Here are a few statistics:


  • 50% of British employees find their jobs dissatisfying (CV Library)
  • 86% people who start a hobby-based business said it gave them greater job satisfaction (Start-Up Loans Company and YouGov)
  • Self-employed people are more engaged with their work (Universities of Exeter and Sheffield).

Maybe you are struggling in the workplace or finding it hard to get a job. Turning your spare-time hobby into a full-time career could lead to a happier life.


2. Deadlines and Demands


Starting up in business comes with its challenges. Working against the clock and to a brief, for example. Before you know it, your leisurely knit in front of the television has become an all-nighter to get the batch done.Perhaps you’re hired as a wedding photographer, but your passion lies in pet photography? Often your hobby becomes an extension of what it once was. You need to decide if this matters.


Many people find deadlines motivate them to achieve more with their time. And although taking wedding photos isn’t what you hoped for as a freelancer, it’s forced you to learn new skills. Instead of stagnating, your talents will grow and so will you.


3. Money Matters


What changes/sacrifices will you have to make to turn your hobby into a business? Would it mean giving up the day job to cope with new demands? Yourhobby only demands items to sustain itself, but what's required to run a business?


You might enjoy painting nails and buy the odd nail varnish to keep things interesting. But becoming a nail technician means purchasing a whole array of other items. These might include: lamps, files, desks, towels,hand basins, soaps, etc. Your pocket money will become the spending budget.


Plan ahead by creating a financial forecast and money can be a source of enjoyment. I will never forget the feeling of receiving my first payment for my writing. It was a mixture of pride, relief and joy. Now I write every day. I won’t pretend it’s paying all the bills yet,but I’m getting there. And you will too.

4. Other Business Aspects


Pretend for a moment you are a painter. You’re creative and colourful and crazy about art. You want to open a gallery and sell your watercolours.Super, but what about the other business aspects you need to ponder? Consider the following:


  • Registering your business
  • Websites, business cards and advertising
  • Paying taxes
  • Employing staff
  • Insurance
  • Business legality
  • Funding and grants?


These challenges, although outside of your comfort zone or skill set,can grow you as a person. They lead to endless opportunities. Otherwise, hire someone to do the not-so-fun-stuff. Especially if they can do a better job.


Life is too short to spend on tasks and chores we hate. That's why you want to quit the rat race and become self-employed, right? Hire an accountant if you struggle with numbers. Hire a copywriter if you struggle with words.There’s no shame in seeking support for your business. You’re a painter — go and paint.


5. Criticism and Praise


If you create a product or service and sell it, people are going to judge. In fact, some business owners become traumatised by bad reviews. They give their business up and can’t face their hobby again.


As a freelancer or start-up, you’re going to have to deal with this. On the other hand, doing nothing is a failure in and of itself. As philosopher Jean de La Bruyère put it: “Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing.”


Don’t hide your skills or forget your hobby through fear. Criticism has a partner after all: praise. Praise will boost your confidence, make you proud and confirm you're making a difference. And all that from your favorite pastime? What’s not to like?


6. Being the Boss


When you run a start-up business, there is no boss for the boss. You are the boss. And this comes with its pros and cons like every point in this list.An actual boss has a duty of care and pays your wage. Whether you have the world’s best boss or a tyrant, there is no leadership anxiety in working for someone and you get paid at the end of the month. There is no guarantee in self-employment.


Yet, being your own boss has its advantages, as you:


  • Choose your working hours
  • Go on holiday on a whim
  • Have more time to spend with family and  friends
  • Decide what to wear
  • Enjoy freedom.


Turning your hobby into a business has pitfalls like every major life decision. But do it right and you could have the life you want. This blog aims to support you in your choice to become self-employed. Take your skills, hopes and dreams to the next level. Yearn to share your talents with the world? Fed up with your job? It’s time to start, right?

MENTA is an award-winning enterprise agency set in the heart of East Anglia. It offers free business training and advice sessions to those who live in Norfolk or Suffolk. They want to help you grow your business.


Give them a call on 01284 760206, or register for their free business advice course.


Rebecca Moulding


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