Hobby, business, or somewhere in between?

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With creative entrepreneurialism on the rise, stories of people quitting their day jobs and turning their hobbies into successful full-time businesses are becoming more common. While these stories of triumph over the corporate cubicle lifestyle are refreshing and hopeful, I think they can lead to confusion as well. At least, it did for me, and I’m sure I can’t be the only one.

For the longest time, I’ve had the impression that my hobby needed to become a business. I figured that was the natural course of things and something I should prepare for after opening an Etsy shop. I thought that someday my “business” would outgrow Etsy and I’d get my own website. I’d have plenty of sales to pay for that website, my materials and other expenses, and even have some for myself to satiate my Starbucks addiction.

A couple weeks ago I discovered a podcast called Create and Thrive. Jess Van Den, the creator and handmade jewelry business owner, started the podcast to help other creative entrepreneurs succeed. I forget what episode she mentions it in, but she describes how she and her husband do not want to hire employees because they’re content with their current business model. It took me awhile to really grasp this, but once I did, it was a huge reality check.

If you are wondering whether you should grow your hobby into a business, be honest with yourself. Consider why you have this creative hobby in the first place. Ask yourself if you have the resources (time, money, energy) to become a business.

Given my current circumstances (read: engineering school), a full-time business run by only me is a pipe dream. I have every intention to graduate college, hopefully with decent grades, so that means I am a full-time student. I simply don’t have the time to transform Bejewel the Nation into a business.

So my next question was if having a hobby would be worthwhile. Even though a hobby will not make as many sales as a business, I realized this was okay for me. I have another part-time job on campus so I can afford it to be just a hobby. And given all my engineering and math classes, I need some sort of creative artsy outlet.

It’s okay to decide to keep it a hobby, or even somewhere in between. I’m content with Bejewel the Nation being a sort of hobby-business hybrid and I like to think of it as a side dish to my college education. I still learn something, and it provides a break from the entree so I don’t get tired of it. I consider it to be a hybrid because I’d still like to turn a profit from it, but I understand it probably won’t be a particularly large profit since I’m not investing enough in it for that, which is okay.

If you decide to continue your creative endeavor as a hobby, just remember to keep it in perspective. Read any articles on growing a creative business carefully and consider which pieces of advice truly apply to you. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you need to grow your hobby into a full-time business if it’s not practical for you to do so.


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