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Turning a Hobby Into a Business

Before you start, ask yourself these three questions

a business owner sells her pottery to a customer

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Does your hobby have the potential to become a business?

Q. I have a hobby that I am thinking of turning into a business, but I'm nervous about taking the leap and unsure if my hobby can make me money. How I do I assess the possibilities?

A. Welcome to the world of the entre-not-so-sure.

It's easy to get caught in this impasse, especially as in virtually 100% of cases, a business built around a hobby won't feel anything like your hobby did in the first place.

Think about it this way:

To build a hobby you need

  1. time
  2. interest, and
  3. practice

To turn a hobby into a business you need

  1. a potential market to sell to,
  2. an opportunity to fill that market, and
  3. feedback from that market.

Two different frameworks!

If you are sitting between these two worlds, ask yourself these three questions:

a woodworking project

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Woodworking could be a profitable hobby.

Question #1: Is your hobby some form of marketable skill?

People might pay you for your woodworking, computer programming, graphic designing or writing talents, but they will probably not pay you to swim, hike, or read.

use your paintbrushes to make money from your art hobby

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Start a business selling your art.

Question #2: If so, are you willing to risk some of the fulfillment you find in your hobby for the market's judgment?

You might love painting in your backyard on the weekends, but are you willing to have someone give her opinion on how much she's willing to pay for it?

Question #3:
If so, are you trying to make a few bucks on the side, or are you trying to make a living?

Fifty dollars a month is a lot different than a goal of $5,000 a month. Understand what you want out of your business and what it might take to get there.

If you don't get to question 3, then move on and simply enjoy your hobby for the pleasure it brings you. If you did get to question 3, it's time to start thinking like a business owner.

Either way, don't beat yourself up for being an entre-not-so-sure — beat yourself up for staying one.

Bassam Tarazai is a career coach and founder of Colipera (Collective Inspiration, Personal Accountability). Author of The Accountability Effect, he runs goal-setting workshops for companies and universities.

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