Hobby, business, or somewhere in between?

There has always been a place for hobby businesses, especially in the arts and for boutique producers. The world of online retail and e-selling tools has opened that up to a whole range of new micro-businesses and even hobby entrepreneurs.

Starting a hobby business can be a great way to pay for what you love doing in your “non-work” time. If you can make a clear profit on what you’re doing as well, even better! There is an important decision to make as you work away though - is this a fledgeling business you ultimately want to take off and do full time, or is it something on the side for fun and some pocket money (remember you can always change your mind as you go, you’re not locked in)?

The difference between the two is in how you spend your time and (re)invest in the business. A hobby can work on much lower margins, do without much, if any, marketing budget, be structured for convenience and so on. On the other hand, there are some things you should be looking at from the outset if you’re looking to grow.

These are my tips, whichever way you’re looking at taking things, on how to make the most of what you’re doing:

  • Make it yourself

Remember you’re starting out. You’re creating something - and it’s your creation which becomes your brand, what you’re famous for. The more of yourself you can convey the more unique your product will be, and for a boutique product that’s exactly what you want!

  • Manage your distribution

Where and when you sell is really important. You want to sell out of what you have, but only just! Being in demand and having people rushing to buy from you is great for business, but having people disappointed because they can’t ever get their hands on what you’re making will lead them to look somewhere else.

  • Be your own critic

When you’re creating something there’s no one better to manage the quality than yourself. Creating something small and boutique isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but some people will absolutely love it. Holding yourself to your own high standards will keep your pride and satisfaction high throughout!

  • Keep it fresh

There is nothing worse than something that is meant to be fun becoming routine. Keep your business and your products fresh, change things up and challenge yourself as you go. You can take your customers, or clients, fans (whatever you have) on a journey with you, and the more you make new things the more likely people will be to keep buying.

  • Don’t stray from your passion

No matter what you’re doing, if you don’t believe in it you’re not going to give it your best. If you’re spending part of your valuable spare time on a side project you should have a passion for it. Your passion for your hobby will come through your work -  and it will be better for it.

 

No matter what you’re doing, whether it’s a hobby, a business or mix of both, it’s important to enjoy it. If you aren’t it’s probably taking something away from you and you should look for something else to spend your time on - you won’t be giving it your best anyway. 

If you’re really good at your hobby business you will probably find yourself in a position where you consider taking it to the next level, maybe even full time. There are a things that will change if you choose to do that - it’s important you have a good idea of where you stand before you take any action. If what you’re about to do is going to change what you love about what you’re doing it might be the wrong decision.

Remember - not everything has to make you any money, let alone a lot of it. Sometimes it’s great to have something that does ok financially, but makes you really happy!


Andrew Snell

Director at Coaster Group

Andrew brings a range of skills and experience not often found together. Working simultaneously across different industries and disciplines he has a unique view of the business landscape. He has high level experience in marketing and public relations strategy and delivery, live production and technical management and design and has worked in and with many high profile SMEs. Andrew founded and runs Coaster Group and is a keen, serial entrepreneur - making ideas real is his passion.

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