1. How much money do you need to make?
Whether you’re single, married or supporting a family, think about your cost of living as well as your need for financial autonomy. Most entrepreneurs don’t quit their “day job” to pursue their startup full-time right away. If you have a stable income to cover financial obligations, you may prefer to pursue the hobby-related business on the side, affording the latitude to enjoy the hobby and explore its market potential without the pressure of relying on it as a significant source of income. As you increase commitment to your hobby-related business and it begins to generate income, consider any financial tradeoffs you may have to make. If money is not a major concern or you have a financial safety net to fall back on when sales are low, you may be able to increase this commitment more quickly. 2. How flexible are you?
In other words, how willing are you to pivot your hobby to meet market demands? By practicing your hobby, you are creating value for yourself in terms of the intrinsic enjoyment it provides. But, to run a profitable business, you must create value for others -- your customers. How well does your hobby provide value for customers who are willing and able to pay? Many hobby entrepreneurs experience a divide between their enjoyment of the hobby and their work on the business as money becomes a larger factor. If running and developing a business is distracting from your original passion, it may be wise to delegate or outsource certain tasks to employees, co-owners or other professionals.3. Are you prepared for negative feedback?
By sharing your hobby with the rest of the world, you’re inviting both positive and negative feedback -- about yourself, your competence and your business. Entrepreneurship inherently involves a rollercoaster of emotions, and it’s easy to cling to the “ups.” But, make sure you’re also open to experiencing the “downs” and managing their impact on your enjoyment of the hobby.
Hobby entrepreneurship is not the right path for everyone. A double-edged sword, it has the potential to either bolster or erode passion for your craft. For some, starting a business may be the best of both work and play -- being paid to do what you love -- or it may end up shifting your focus away from an activity that you would otherwise practice purely for enjoyment.
So rather than jumping in right away or taking an “all or nothing” approach, try easing into monetizing your hobby. Continue practicing what you love, and be humble and receptive to feedback along the way. Eventually, you may realize you’re already taking steps toward starting a business and money will naturally enter the equation. But, if the business ends up taking you so far away from doing what you love that it’s no longer enjoyable, consider keeping the two separate.