Running a successful business takes a lot. There must be, of course, a desirable product or service, complemented by solid marketing and a confident sales pitch, delivered to a steady client base. (Let’s not forget individual employees, too!)
And what about the business owner? S/he must operate with one part tenacity, one part expertise, one part optimism, and a generous amount of dogged determination and drive. It’s not always easy, and failure is always a real possibility that one must be aware of. Not every person has these ingredients, but when all is present there can be nothing better.
Under most circumstances having a business is NOT like having a hobby. A hobby is fun, provides entertainment, and diverts our attention away from other things like, well, work. A hobby can be done on your own time or not at all. You can pick up a new hobby as easy as you can drop an old one.
Try treating your business this way and you’re bound for trouble!
So I ask you — do you have a hobby or do you have a business?
Is it Your Full-Time Occupation, or Are You Doing It “On the Side”?
Many business owners launch their businesses as a side gig, something they’re able do in their spare time while employed elsewhere. This is a sensible beginning for some, especially if there are concerns about cash flow and revenue generation. That being said, there comes a point when you must dedicate the majority of your time and energy to building the business and making it sustainable. The after-hours hobby must, at the right time, become a saleable business. Accomplishing this level of success merely in the hours left over is difficult. Growth will happen more quickly when you are devoting ample time to the business rather than trying to maintain it as a side gig.
Who Else is Doing This and How Will I Differentiate My Business?
In the hobby world, it doesn’t matter how many other people are doing the same thing. In fact, the bigger the community the better it is to enjoy. As a hobbyist you likely AREN’T concerned about competition and market share. As a business owner, these are critical to your success. Is your market cluttered with other companies that do exactly what you do? Are you overly preoccupied with how to differentiate your product or service? Are there enough clients and prospects? Be sure to assess your competition and potential customers so you know if it will be possible to run a sustainable company.
Is Your Business “You” or Will You Have Employees?
If YOU are the business, it is easy to set up a “home-office.” This takes discipline. Many business owners with a home-office make the mistake of teetering on the brink of hobbyist as they stop in the middle of the morning to take the dog out or other “home” tasks. If you are going to have employees, make sure you find an office outside your home where you have room for the employees and have an office as a showcase.
Are You Getting Paid for Your Work?
This is a big one, as many entrepreneurs launch their businesses and start by “giving it away.” This might be an effective method for getting yourself out there, but it is certainly an unsustainable practice over the long-term. One of the first things you need to do when you start a business is to think about pricing and what you will charge for your product or service. At the early stage you must take a good look at your competition, what they are charging, and evaluate your financial goals as well as your immediate and anticipated expenses required to run your business. If you don’t take this step, and if you don’t have any insight into your “numbers,” you just might have a hobby that eats up cash with no revenue.
Many successful business owners are as passionate about their hobbies as they are their business. And that’s great! But for certain, a greater percentage of their time, attention, and commitment is put into running the business. Remember that a business provides an income for you and perhaps other employees; in most cases, your hobby is a “labor of love.”