Many people ask me if I think their business idea is a good idea to pursue. That idea is usually based on what they love to do in their free time. Their passion. Their hobby.
And in most cases, the answer to, “Do you think I could make money from this?” is…
See, here’s the thing: You may have the most creative, amazing, fulfilling idea in the world, but if you have to dig deep to think of ways to turn that idea into cold, hard cash, you don’t have a business brewing.
You have a hobby.
People have a hard time swallowing that truth. They feel sinking disappointment to hear that what they really love to do isn’t business worthy…
And then they get stubborn.
They grit their jaw. They decide this is what they want to do – they love this! Do what you love and the money will follow!! Everyone knows that!!!
So they give me the virtual finger, go work their asses off throwing together a business plan, mocking up a website, writing copy, and what have you.
But it doesn’t work. A hobby is a hobby. If it’s not in hot demand, it’s going to fail.
And people still don’t get it. They hang on to “businesses” that limp along collecting a client or two here and there. With each customer they manage to rope in, they think, “See?! I was right, James, this IS a business! What do YOU know, anyway?!”
The occasional customer does not a business make.
It’s true that working on something you find personally fulfilling is absolutely grand. It’s true that doing what you love is the best feeling in the world. And it’s true that knowing the work you do changes lives makes you want to do more of it.
Of course, it’s also true that if there’s no real demand for what you love and you’re struggling to pay the bills each month, you’d best get a real job and quit trying to survive off a hobby.
That’s not to say a hobby can’t become a full-fledged business. Many people got their entrepreneurial start from their beloved pastimes. They worked out of their garage or from their kitchen table, crafting labours of love that suddenly became hot items everyone wanted.
These people were lucky. What they loved was loved by many others. And thus, they managed to turn their hobby into lucrative ventures.
Most people? What they love is just what they love. Appreciated by others, possibly. But a business?
Building a business means being honest about actual demand, need and interest. Creating an income stream means letting your head poke up in the clouds of dreams while keeping your feet firmly grounded in reality. It means doing the research and crunching actual numbers, and facing the cold, hard truth.
Don’t despair, though: If the cold, hard truth shows you that your hobby can’t become a viable, lucrative business, then fantastic! Give yourself a high five. You can finally accept that your hobby won’t make you money.
Which means you can focus your energy on figuring out what will. You’ll turn your attention to better ways of creating the money you need, instead of beating up your beloved hobby so that it ekes out a few dollars now and then.
And when you do, you’ll realize that the income-earning business you settle with can give you exactly what you wanted in the first place: the freedom and time to enjoy your hobby.
Sounds like a way better plan, doesn’t it?