11 Ways to Tell if Your Hobby Could be a Business

Start Up, Small BusinessWe all have hobbies, things we enjoy doing in our free time. And we all fantasize about turning those hobbies into careers at one time or another. For some, this fantasy could be a reality, and if you think you could be one of those people, here are 11 things to consider to see if you are ready to turn your hobby into a career.

Someone else is already doing it – If your hobby is something that others are already doing for a living, then you are on the right track. You know that there is a viable career there and that with time and patience, you could monetize your hobby. But just because no one is doing it now, doesn’t mean it can’t become a career – it just means there is no path to follow.

You want to do it full-time – Sometimes the things which we do to avoid stress can be more stressful than our stressors. Make sure you really enjoy your hobby, and it isn’t simply something to take your mind off your job.

There is a market – If you make something, is it something that people would want? If you perform a service, is it a service people would be willing to pay for? If you can’t clearly see a defined market, then you will have trouble getting people to pay you.

It is sustainable – If you make a widget of some sort, can you make enough of them to be profitable? And if so, will you have a large enough distribution area to continue selling that widget for years to come? Many hobbies make great side businesses but cannot scale to a full-time business.

Others think it’s a good idea – Sometimes talking to a friend or relative can help determine if a hobby really is a viable business. They will be far enough removed to ask the hard questions. And if you can’t answer them, then you need to evaluate whether or not this is truly a business.

Test the waters – Before launching your business, talk to potential customers or partners about your idea. See if there is any interest. If you find overwhelming interest from everyone who could be involved, then that is a positive sign.

People are willing to pay – Many hobbies-turned-business starts as a side job. This allows the business owner to get a feeling for what profit margins will look like and see the reaction to the product or service. If you’ve already done this and found great success, that is another positive sign.

You are willing to start over – We all want to own our own successful business, but in the beginning, your business will not be successful. Are you willing to start over with no experience, no connections, and no guaranteed income source? If not, then your hobby should probably remain a hobby.

You are the best at it – If you know people who are better than you at your hobby, then it may be hard to justify turning it into a business. That isn’t to say that only the best can be a business, but be sure you are good enough to justify charging for your product or services.

There is a need – Just because there is a market doesn’t mean there is a need. If there are already too many businesses doing what you do, it might be hard to carve out enough business to sustain yourself.

It is affordable – Affording to make one or two of something then selling them does not mean you can afford an inventory of them. Analyze the costs involved in starting the business and be sure you have the cash to do it, and the ability to hold that inventory for an extended period of time.

If you looked over this list and still think your hobby could be a career, it might be time to speak with a CPA about your next steps. For instance, a good friend of mine made the decision to turn a hobby of his which was making homemade lockout tags into a  multi-million dollar business which provides Amazon a majority of their lockout tagout placarding and tags.

While this list is in no way fully inclusive, it is definitely a good starting place to determine if your hobby could be a business.