27 November 2009, by A. Cedilla
A hobby is for having fun, a business is for making money. Pretty simple, don’t you think?
But not if you’ve been exposed to the mind-set that you can make your fun-time activity morph into a cash-cow with a little experience and some elbow grease — Ka-CHING!
The heavens will open to the glorious sound of angels singing, and you get to have the time of your life using your passion to make money.
One thing though: The root of the word “passion” has one other meaning that’s not as well-known as the obvious.
It means “suffering” as well.
If you have any appreciable life experience under your belt, you’d appreciate the irony.
There are always different sides to any issue, any course of action, and focusing only on the parts you like is as smart as running in the dark with one eye closed. Get the picture?
Hobbies express your interests. They can help you channel your dreams, deal with stress, reach out to people, learn new things. Businesses can too, of course, but at the core of the whole thing, materially, practically and cold-bloodedly speaking, is to make money.
One easy difference is the sheer amount of forethought and planning you need to run a successful business vs. the gadgetmania and fun that usually dominates a hobby.
Another is the amount of time a hobbyist can fantasize about what else he can do with his past-times, a habit that, while sometimes useful in business,is also thought of as “not thinking things through.”
Here are more ways to see whether what you have is a hobby or a business:
Literally unplanned growth can take over your life.
Witness the explosion of stuff that many hard-core hobbyists own. If you have anyone in your family who’s into handicrafts like knitting or quilting, there’s probably a closet in your house full of yarn, notions and/or fabric.
Possibly plastic catch-alls under the bed (full of hobby-related materials), in the attic or basement, or a small “hobby room” or even corner. Without care, the stuff can take over your house.
In a business, this would be called stock, or raw material. The end goal is a finished product for sale.
Overstock would be a drain on the business’s resources, because then the stock is unused and the money invested in it isn’t generating any returns. And the stock’s still taking up space that could be used for faster moving products.
Plus, you’d need to pay for storage. And guard against theft or deterioration/spoilage from improper storage.
But then again, with the foresight and planning you’d need to run a business, you’d have guidelines set-up in place to deal with over stock, turn-around and storage issues from the start. Not so much with hobbies, usually.
Profit comes after calculating costs, labor, and overhead. In a hobby, the end-goal is different, and often, it’s the process that’s more engrossing.
Large-scale production isn’t generally part of the hobbyist’s creative cycle. Where’s the fun in doing the same thing over and over?
Activities that are fun by themselves as a hobby become a chore when you need to keep repeating them to produce stuff for your business. It’s the age-old story: as soon as you have to do it, you don’t want to anymore.
Management and marketing activities, again, require practicality and cool logic, which can lead you to feeling the passion drain away. I can’t keep doing this, it’s sapping my creativity…
These are just simple guidelines. They’re not meant as discouragement, but only as a means of discernment. You need passion and logic to live your life fully, and to succeed at anything, so why not use both to sustain you, and help clarify your dreams so you can achieve them?
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