Hobbies May Not Equal Business Opportunities

hobby sign

Photo (CC) angermann, on Flickr

You want to start a business. But finding a good idea is a task many prospective business owners find daunting.

There are many suggestions on how people can find a business idea. Brainstorming, building on a skill or talent, or using an idea you have seen somewhere else are three commonly used techniques.

Another method is to develop the business around a hobby you might have. The thought behind that method is the idea that you have a working skill or knowledge that will help you get started with less wasted time.

Yet for many, turning a hobby into a business may not be the best idea. Reasons why not begin with not fully knowing if a market exists for what you produce.

Some hobbies are fairly narrow activities in which those involved enjoy the “doing” part. They have no desire to hire someone to do part of what continues to draw them into the hobby. Therefore, this group of people is not part of your market, and very few others outside of this group may want to buy the product you make.

Another reason why a hobby might not make a business is the pricing factor. The prospective customer is not willing to pay a price that includes much, if any, of a salary component. A business you operate that only returns your costs and doesn’t pay you for your time remains basically an enhanced hobby.

Turning a hobby into a successful business also requires that the owner bring in new skill sets such as bookkeeping, marketing, inventory control and customer relations. It also might include taking out the trash. The more duties you add, the less time you can spend actually doing what you enjoy. You may reach the point where you begin to hire people to do the activity you love while you only do the management.

Finally, you often are involved in a hobby because you like to do it and not because you have to do it. Doing something for fun that allows you to take a break may not be so much fun if you now need to do it 50 to 80 hours a week to keep up with demand.

A business based on one of your hobbies is certainly one idea. But it is an idea that requires a lot of consideration before moving forward.

Sit down with a mentor and consider it from all angles. You don’t want to turn something you enjoy doing into a burdensome task or something that eats your time and money.

Glenn Muske is the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality. Follow Glenn on Twitter: @gmuske

About Glenn Muske

Glenn Muske is the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.

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  1. Kyle says

    Hey Glenn. Thanks for the post, I really agree with every point you made. I always find myself thinking of ways I can turn my hobby into a business haha. However, when reading I noticed that you really only delved into the reasons why a hobby may not work. Do you have any insights on what a hobby thats business ready looks like? Thank you again.

    Kyle Oblinger
    Tulane Business Student

    • Glenn Muske says

      Thanks Kyle. You ask a much harder question. I often respond that most any business can make it with planning, understanding the market, finding a niche, and marketing. So what hobby can be a business? Many of them can. But realize that it may not be exactly what you were doing before. You may have to change what you are doing to meet a market need. Would enjoy your thoughts.


  2. Ivan Widjaya says

    It can be turned into a business as long as you establish yourself as an expert in your niche. Every niche has a need after all. As long as you have what it takes to fulfill that need, then you’re on good ground that you’re going to be able to sell something from your hobby. It takes courage though as the progress will be extremely slow.

  3. Glenn Muske says

    Agree but sometimes we have to tweek that niche somewhat to build a sustainable business around it. Good thoughts.

  4. John says

    Turning your hobby into a business has two sides of a coin. It can make or break you. So, the earlier your decision would be, whether to pursue your hobby into a money-making venture, the better. So decide on it, and stick to it. Focus on it. if you’re not sure about it. Well, it would be wiser to get other business opportunity outside your passion. Because it would take a lot of time and effort and money before you become successful in making money out of your passion. So, you have to weigh between deciding to pursue your hobby to earn a living and getting a job or other business venture. You just have to be realistic when thinking about business.

    • Glenn Muske says

      I like your comment about focus and the need to commit. Thanks for your thoughts.

  5. Amos says

    I totally agree about turning hobby into business. I think it’s even more productive when done that way.


  1. Be Careful When Starting a Business Based on Your Hobbies

    Starting a business based on a hobby may sound like a great idea at first. After all, what better idea than to create revenue from an activity you are already involved in. But watch out, warns Glenn Muske, Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development…