July 23, 2017

The #1 Thing You Need to Turn a Hobby into a Business

Experience is not a precursor to success.  It’s not even a requirement.  No amount of experience will lead to success if you don’t have a passion for what you do.   It explains why someone with little to no business experience can turn their hobby into a multi-million-dollar company.  It also explains why a new company conceived in a corporate boardroom can nose dive into a multi-million-dollar bankruptcy.   Experience can be gained, but passion is a prerequisite.

Chewy.com is currently a dominant force in online pet food sales.   While Petsmart.com had 2.2% of the market share before acquiring the company, Chewy.com has an impressive 40.5%.   Yet, the founders had no experience in the pet food industry when they began.   In fact, they started out with the intention to start selling jewelry.    They’d even purchased inventory.   The only thing missing was the passion.

“I always wanted to do something with pets, but I couldn’t figure out how to monetize it,” Chewy chief executive officer Ryan Cohen said.  “I said, ‘This jewelry idea, we’re not passionate about what we’re doing. This is a much better opportunity.’ I understand the customer — because it’s myself. So we built the company.”

But why is passion so much more important than experience?    If you’ve never been self-employed before, your lack of experience may be what holds you back.   Don’t let it.

  1. Knowledge can be taught.   You can take courses in business management, marketing, or any other topic you want to learn to better yourself and your business.   But passion can’t be taught.  All businesses have highs and lows.  It’s your passion for what you do that will keep you pushing forward.
  2. Running your own business takes perseverance and dedication.   If you don’t have a passion for what you do, you’ll lose interest.   In other words, you’ll give up.
  3. A business requires a constant flow of ideas to grow and thrive.   If you have a passion for what you do, you’ll put in the time and find the ideas.  In fact, inspiration comes easy when you are doing what you love.  However, if you hate your job, how much extra effort would you really put into it?
  4. Experience can be gained.  Experience is defined as practical contact with an event.  You will start to gain experience the day you start your business.   Your experience will grow as your business grows.   Did you know Sir Richard Branson had no business experience when he started his record mail order business in the 1970’s?   His passion saw him through.   Experience was something he gained over time.   Look at him now!

Nobody starts out at the top in business or in any endeavor.   Think of athletes, musicians, writers, and artists.   They don’t start out with experience – or instant success.   But they all have passion.   Passion drives you forward.  It leads you to gain knowledge and experience.   Sometimes success may come in baby steps with one step forward and five steps back, but it’s the passion that keeps you going, learning, and growing.   If you have a passion for your hobby, you already have the most important ingredient you’ll need for success.

 

July 23, 2017

How to Turn Your Hobby into a Successful Business

Turning your hobby into a money-making business is easier than you think.  You don’t need vast experience or copious amounts of capital.  You don’t even need a prize-winning idea.   Every hobby you can think of has some sort of business application.   This means that that no matter who you are or what your hobby, you can turn it into a business, selling products or services that people want to buy.  The only thing you need is the willingness to start.

Take as an example Angie Higa.  Higa worked in the banking industry for 30 years, but retired early to take care of her granddaughter during her daughter’s military deployment to Afghanistan.  Her favorite hobby had always been designing and sewing.   After catching a cold on a seven-hour flight because there wasn’t a blanket available, she decided to turn her love for sewing into a business.   Ms. Higa started Sky Dreams, a company that manufactures travel blankets and pillows.

Angie Higa is just one example of how easy it can be to take your hobby from pastime to business.  Take a look at these other people who did the same.   They are proof that getting started can be easier than you think when you have the hobby and the willingness to begin.

  • Lynn Brooks was 59 when she started her welcome visitor service to those visiting New York City. She created a business that pairs visitors with volunteer “greeters” who help them explore the city, for free.   The company is called Big Apple Greeter.
  • Lorraine Campman spent years working in offices and as an independent piano teacher. At 56, she turned her passion for music into business by starting her music center.    The music center teaches group piano to adults.  You can hear Ms. Campman talk about starting her own business after age 50 in this four-minute video on YouTube.
  • Marcia Duhart founded CyberSenior Services in 1999 after retiring from Merrill Lynch. After realizing the elderly felt out of touch with the computerized world, she created a business that offers one-on-one classes to senior citizens for $35-$45 an hour.   The classes are taught at senior centers, which means she has endless access to new customers and no overhead costs to pay (as opposed to if she rented retail space).
  • Sam Taylor combined his wife’s hobby with his own business experience. After retirement, Mr. Taylor found himself bored.   He took inspiration from his wife, who was a textile artist, and started an online art gallery.
  • Colin King realized his pension wasn’t enough, so he decided to start his own business. He was in his 50’s when he started Education Quizzes, an online site that provides educational quizzes for school-aged children.  He proves it’s not just college-aged kids that can have success with an online venture.

So, what’s your hobby?   Take inspiration from other people like the ones above to turn your hobby into a business.   Age, experience, and investment aren’t important factors.   You simply need a willingness to begin.   Think about it for a moment.  What product or service could you offer?    Come up with some ideas, and we’ll talk more about it later in this blog.