We're supposed to enjoy our work, right? So why not turn something we already enjoy into our career?
Here are some reasons for and against the idea of turning your hobby into your full-time job.
1. You know you enjoy it:
Whether you're into quilting, painting, or building furniture, you know you lose track of time and feel proud of the results of your efforts.
2. It's more fun than real work:
If you don't like what you're doing now, this can seem very attractive.
3. It makes you think work can be fun:
Many people have a tough time imagining truly enjoying work. Fantasizing about how you could make a living at your hobby can help you overcome the doubt that work can be gratifying.
Those are some of the 'pros.' Maybe you have thought of others. Now, here come the 'cons.'
1. Gratia Hardy, of Pasadena, points out that, "...being required to do something regularly and well is very different from the no-pressure, no-expectation levels of our recreational activities."
2. Your hobby may not be worthy of a business:
Your relatives and friends' assurances that they'll buy your adorable (fill in the blank with your handcrafted product,) doesn't count as market research. If you're serious, write a business plan. And use real numbers. It just may work, and you'll make smarter decisions if you have a plan.
3. A hobby may not be deep enough to provide the ongoing potential that you'll need to tap to find it fascinating, challenging, and meaningful in 15 or 20 years from now. Of course it depends on your hobby, but if you are brainstorming ideas for your new career path, I recommend you list lots of ideas and choose one or two to explore that have the most potential, as well as those that really draw you in.
4. When you have to crank out 90,000 of those adorable (fill in the blank with your handcrafted product) each year, will you still enjoy it?
The Bottom Line:
There's nothing wrong with turning your hobby into a business, and I don't think you should eliminate the idea from your career search. But you should explore the concept as you would any other business idea. And do your market research and other planning. Don't forget to consider what your day-to-day work life would look like.
If your idea keeps looking better the more light you shine on it, you should have a promising path ahead.
There is one very positive aspect of doing a business plan based on your hobby. You may be highly motivated to do some planning and research, since this relates to an activity you know well and enjoy, and you therefore may be more likely to do the necessary planning. This is a big plus! (And once you see how to do this research, you may be more likely to do it for other ideas you will come up with.)
Something I've learned coaching over the years is that creating a business out of the first few ideas you come up with isn't a good goal. The best careers come from exploring the first ideas and finding out what will, and what won't, work for you.
The evolution of your ideas are the best reason to explore those first ideas. If creating a business plan based on your hobby gets you to see that you can plan a business that you will enjoy and that will add to your quality of life, then starting with a hobby is a great idea. So start with your hobby, and enjoy the adventure of finding out where you will end up!