Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Realistic Look At Turning Your Hobby Into a Business or What I Learned from Working On A Boat

If you choose a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Sounds like wise advice. To bad it’s a load of crap.

Of course you’ll work. It’s a job. It will always be something you have to do, even when you’re not in the mood, when you’d rather be doing something else that you also love to do. Whether you do this job for someone else or work for yourself it is still an obligation that you have to complete in order to support yourself.

Chances are that you will only love part of the job, but you will have to complete other tasks as well.

An Example:

I once had a job where I worked on a boat. It was a neat little Air Boat similar to the one in the picture above but bigger. It had a flat bottom so it could go where no other boats could reach, and a Chevy 350 big block engine that made it faster than most of the other boats on the water. This boat was bad ass, at least by Pennsylvania standards. Most people in the area had never seen a boat like ours because they were made for navigating swamps in the south. Everyone, and I mean everyone who saw this boat wanted to ride on it, but they couldn't. Only I could, because I was the lucky son of a gun who got paid to do it.

I loved that job. But it was still work. In order to get to the point where I could go out and cruise around the lake on a gorgeous summer day I had to do all kinds of other stuff first, including get my tired tush out of bed at 6:00 am and drive the kids to the babysitter so someone else could witness all of their milestones like first steps, first words, first high fever and such. 

Once I got to work I had to do inventory and load hundreds of pounds worth of chemicals onto the boat and truck. Occasionally I had to drive the truck towing a boat through insane traffic and terrifying narrow allies with less than an inch of space on either side.

There were other people in this truck. People who liked to listen to country music and only country music on long 4 hour trips across the state day after day. And people who had colds and coughed and sneezed there germs in the tiny shared space, all but guaranteeing I would be sick within a week.

If I wasn't sure that my mother would most likely read this post, I could tell you a rather unflattering story about the day I learned that boats and hangovers don’t mix. It was a lesson that my boss made sure to teach me, and I’m fairly certain she chose the most amusing teaching method she could think of.

At the end of every single day the boat had to be unloaded and scrubbed down. Empty chemical bottles had to be tripled rinsed and prepared for disposal, and paperwork had to be filled out and turned in.

Once my husband got the bright idea to surprise me by renting a boat for a holiday weekend. I was horrified. I finally get away from work for three whole days and he wants me to spend it doing the exact same thing that I do every single day!

Despite all that I still loved the job. Just because you love your work doesn't magically transform it from work to a hobby that you get paid for.

What’s the point of all of this you ask. How does that relate to starting your own sewing business?

  1.     Sewing will only be a small part of your business. At least half, if not more of your time will be taken up by the various everyday tasks of running a business. Including but not limited to paperwork, bookkeeping, marketing, and customer service. Even after your business has become so successful that you can hire help you will still have to oversee most of these tasks yourself because you will be the one responsible if something goes wrong.
  2. It will take up your time. There may be a little more flexibility in your schedule, but you will still have deadlines to meet. The customer is now your boss. This will mean less time with your family, less time for relaxing and less predictability in your schedule. How will you handle it if your website goes down an hour before your daughter’s birthday party?
  3.  You’re going to have to find a new hobby. You don’t necessarily stop loving your hobby when it goes from being something you want to do, to something you have to do, but you can get burnt out. If you want to keep sewing as something you love, you’ll have to remind yourself not to overdo it.
  4. You will deal with people you don’t like. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my coworkers. They were great, even when they were oozing viruses into my breathing space, but they had bad days too when they were not the most fun people around. When you run your own business you will have to deal with customers and vendors even on their less than spectacular days. You can’t just hang up the phone. You need them. They are what keeps your business open.

All of this has been on my mind lately. It's been years since I have worked outside the home, but we are at a crossroads in our lives. My medical condition has been taken care of and I am now able to work. Not only am I able, but I need to work if I ever want to buy fabric or patterns again. While I am looking for a regular job working for someone else, I am also thinking about the long term. I've always wanted to turn my hobby into a business, and with all of the resources available on the internet, it seems like an entirely plausible goal.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Have you ever considered turning your hobby into a business, or actually taken the steps to do so. What other factors do you think someone should consider before making the leap from working for someone else to working for themselves in a hobby based business? 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...