Saturday, September 20, 2014

Should you Make your Hobby your Career?

It isn’t always easy to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life. If you’re still in college or high school, chances are that your idea of a career is more of a dream than anything concrete. On the other hand, if you’re midway through your career, supporting a family and with loads of bills to worry about, your thoughts are likely a whole lot more immediate. Maybe you have grown to simply dislike what you do. On the other hand, perhaps you just aren’t making the sort of money you expected when you took on the job, and changing employers just won’t fix the problem. Sadly, there are lots of people in your position either way, and many of them, like you, may be thinking about chucking your 9-5 job and doing something else entirely. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but at the same time, there is some veracity to doing it. After all, every entrepreneur in the history of the world has had to quit what they were doing at some point to focus on their new career path. Why not you?

The most immediate concern is always what you’re going to do about a paycheck. After all, the only people who can really walk away from a job without worrying are teenagers and lottery winners, right? That means that you better find something before you ditch your current job, or you might be up a creek. So, what have you got? Chances are college is out as an option, since the investment will be steep, and you’ll probably just end up in a job just like the one you’ve already got. What about your hobbies? Any chance there?

The wonderful thing about the internet is that it turned the world into a big, global marketplace. Only online could a schoolteacher in Colorado sell hand-carved wood beads to buyers in India. Only online does the idea of “drop shipping” become one of the most desirable ways to get a business started. This is how hobbies become businesses. It isn’t easy, mind you, but at the same time, there are few things as satisfying as turning something you love into something you do all the time. 

So, if you’re determined to start a business, and you happen to think that your hobby is a great place to start, then you’ve got some work ahead of you to find out whether you can actually make a go of it or not. There are two aspects of this that you’re going to have to consider, though, and while you might not want to hear it, they could be make-or-break items to ponder. First, you have to measure your marketing savvy. After all, you have to be able to put products or services out there in some fashion or another, and if you can’t reach people, then your enterprise is going to fall on its face quickly. Secondly, you have to judge your market. If it’s small enough, you can make a pretty good living from it, but too small, and you’ll struggle to make ends meet. Let’s call it the difference between model hot rods and hyper-detailed model engines. One has a relatively small scope that is tightly focused, and the other is so tightly focused that it’s likely you’d never make much money from it, and certainly not enough to put kids through college on. Those are the two biggest concerns you need to address.

That said, and armed thus, get yourself to your nearest bookstore or library, and start checking out some titles that concern themselves with those two fundamentals. Do this before you quit your job, and chances are you’ll be much better prepared for your new career doing what you love than you would be if you just threw your arms up and yelled “I Quit!” 

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