Some people who separate their hobby from their career do it by choice. Most however, do so purely through simply not viewing it as a potential source of income.
It’s often said that if you can do what you love, you need never actually work a day in your life! With that in mind it’s surely worth putting some thought into what ways there could be of turning you passion into a career opportunity.
Finding the angle
As many entrepreneurs have proven already there are very few hobbies and passions which don't have an inherent business angle.
For instance, anyone with an interest in hair and beauty and a natural flair for getting great results could potentially scale up into a full-time business.
While some may wish to move straight into finding salon premises, others may want to start off smaller by offering a mobile home visiting service and/or providing a clinic service using space provided by a partner business.
If you enjoy hosting your own guests and feel that you would like to extend this into a business opportunity, then you might want to look at moving into the world of hospitality and accommodation
, or event management.
When thinking through your plans it would be helpful to carefully consider what you could offer which might add extra value to your business and prompt potential customers to seek you out.
In hair and beauty, for example, your unique selling point (USP) could be spotting a niche opportunity to offer hair braiding in your locality – and/or perhaps running classes to teach others to do so.
Managing events, for example, is a multi-faceted sector which might include weddings and parties, corporate events and product launches, conferences and exhibitions, and fundraising or sports events.
Those with craft skills who have created sought-after products with a touch of originality may want to explore the idea of setting up an online shop, while those with music skills may find themselves able to create a business teaching others to play or selling their compositions online. There’re very few interests that don’t represent an opportunity; all it requires is the right perspective.
Meeting the challenge
Whilst no one can deny passion is essential, but it must be accompanied by a comprehensive knowledge of your chosen field. The would-be entrepreneur must always be aware of the need to present themselves as more than just a keen enthusiast.
This includes everything your customers might ask, and the requisite business skills that your suppliers and other business contacts will expect before they take you seriously.
If you advertise yourself as a professional in your field, everyone will expect you to be an expert in certain areas and at least a competent consultant in others. Qualifications are not always necessary, and much can be learned about most fields by someone keen to learn.
But if some form of certification is essential, you should work out how you will achieve the standards required and factor this into your business plan.
Marketing your fledgling business is another challenge which needs careful thought. For some at least this may mean starting small, or even part-time, and expanding as you gain a foothold in your market.
Others may look to business finance, especially where the plan is to purchase an existing business in your sector.
The advantages of this approach include gaining an existing customer base, inheriting ready-made supplier contacts, and generating revenues right from the outset.
In a nutshell, you get to cut out the hard slog of building a business from scratch, and no doubt raising business finance more easily because you will be operating a ‘going concern’ rather than simply offering a business projection.
But only those who have a clear plan for converting their enthusiasm into a viable career will be likely to stay the course.
Even the most passionate are likely to find there are some aspects of their ‘hobby-as-a-job’ aspirations which are rather more like hard work. But the true enthusiast will see these not as barriers, but as the gateway to their optimal career.
By Jo Thornley, Head of Brand and Partnerships at Dynamis. Joining in 2005 to co-ordinate PR and communications and produce editorial across all business brands. She earned her spurs managing the communications strategy and now creates and develops partnerships between BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com and likeminded companies.