A Juggler Shares 5 Tips For Turning A Hobby Into a BusinessJen Slaw
Does this sound familiar? You’re passionate about something other than your current work and are wondering if you can make a career out of pursuing it. Could this love become a fulfilling and financially rewarding side hustle or even full-time business…or is it better left as a fun hobby?
If you’re reading this publication, chances are you’ve either done it, considered it, or are in the process of transitioning to build a business around something you love. It’s not easy, and not everyone should. Passion alone does not guarantee a profitable business, but the most successful entrepreneurs are incredibly passionate about and committed to their work.
Ultimately, I made the transition. I learned to juggle in 6th grade as a lesson in focus and concentration. I was hooked. A few weeks later I joined the juggling club and became obsessed with learning more tricks and techniques. In 7th grade, I performed at my first paid juggling gig – a festival at an Armenian church in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
Juggling remained my favorite hobby – and side hustle – throughout high school and college, and after several years working in the corporate world as a structural engineer, I ultimately left to pursue a career as a professional performer & instructor of juggling. Yes, you read that correctly…a professional juggler. I spent years touring performing arts centers, running circus arts camps, performing on cruise ships, at corporate and social events, in an opera at Lincoln Center, an Off-Broadway run, an appearance on Letterman. Then, after delivering a TEDx talk, opportunities opened to develop this hobby-turned-career further. Now, my business involves speaking at events, facilitating programs for corporations, associations, and non-profits that focus on team building, creativity, managing change, and balancing responsibilities – interactive learning opportunities that use juggling to facilitate organizational change and employee development.
Years ago, I never thought my favorite hobby from 6th grade would eventually become my career and enable me to build my own business. I’ve learned a lot through the (sometimes painful) process. Here are 5 things you must do in order to transform your hobby into a lucrative side business and perhaps ultimately a new full-time career.
5 Things You Must Do To Turn Your Hobby Into a Business
1. Get Really Good At Your Hobby
Build skill, invest time, research, learn, strive to always improve. Become an expert in your field. Become known in your niche. Make sure you have a real passion for it and become the best you can be at this thing. Transforming your hobby into a business involves many tasks that are less than “fun,” and without passion, motivation and commitment, it will be difficult to push through the challenges and obstacles.
2. Find & Develop What Makes You Unique
You bring a unique flavor and blend of experiences to this side business. What are the things that make your experience unique? What makes you different from all the other social media consultants or photographers or designers or jugglers?! How can you combine your interests and passions in a new way? Practice brainstorming, creative thinking, and mind-mapping techniques. Identify a need in the marketplace for the unique solution you can provide. What are the benefits to potential buyers? Why will they purchase from you?
3. Learn About Marketing & Running Your Own Business
You don’t necessarily have to go get an MBA. There are many online and offline resources (hello, Smart Hustle Magazine!), small business conferences, events, networking groups and support organizations from which you can learn about sales and marketing, building a team, positioning yourself, finding and nurturing clients and strategic partners, finances, and more. How will you bring in the customers and cash? Educate yourself on what it takes to run a successful business and determine if you can invest the time, energy and money required. Understand the financial risk and prepare for initial compromises and setbacks.
4. Find a Mentor or Coach
Talk to others who have made the transition and are successfully doing what you’d like to do. Find out what worked and what challenges they struggled with. Get help from a business coach. Discuss what business structure will best allow you to achieve your goals, and get assistance creating an executable business and marketing plan. Mentors can provide objective guidance through the transition period and help you stay on track with your goals. A good coach will provide strategies that will save you time, energy and money.
5. Prepare, then Take the Leap
You will never feel totally ready. Pursuing your hobby or passion as a business will most likely require compromise and some difficult moments. But it can be totally worth it to be doing something you love – and ultimately rewarding in ways you can only imagine. Take the leap and don’t look back. If juggling can work, anything is possible.