Is Your Passion A Hobby Or A Jobby?

Do you ever find yourself thinking:

“I’m way too smart and skilled to not be making more money.”

Or, do you ever gaze out the window or stay up late at night thinking, “What if I could only…”?

Doing something extra on the side for cash can be grand, especially if you make a few grand, but it can also be something that grows into your long-term earning potential. But that doesn’t mean you have to pull a Jerry Maguire at your current job. In fact, testing out a business idea as a side hustle while you’re still employed allows you to determine proof of concept with fewer risks, because you have, hello, a job that pays you already.

Before you try and take your Side Hustle from being your recreation to your vocation, let’s get serious about determining if it’s really a jobby — or just a hobby?

1. Is your hobby something that is a career for other people?

2. If “yes,” does that career make money that you could subsist on with a lifestyle similar to what you have now?

3. Do you have enough money for the costs it will take to turn the hobby into a career without taking on debt?

4. Are you confident that you can do the less exciting parts of the hobby when turning it into a business (i.e. sourcing, bookkeeping), day in and day out?

5. Are you someone who stays focused without getting distracted or antsy and easily bored?

If you answered “no” to most or all of these questions, then think twice or thrice about trying to making your thing into a more than a hobby — or a side hustle.

If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then keep exploring how to turn your hobby into a jobby.

If the above questions were your midterm, think of the following ones as your final exam. This is the final “Are you sure you want to go through with this?” that’s similar to the one you get before you get on a rollercoaster. If you think you’re ready to take the leap from side hustle to full-on business, see if you can answer “yes” to all of these questions:

Are you ready to create a solid plan for your business and define specific measures of success, not just the willy-nilly, pie-in-the-sky ones you’ve been dreaming about? You’ve conducted extensive research into your profession, studied the competition and met with like-minded individuals. Now it’s time to execute your business plan. Are you ready mentally? You have to be okay with failure. You are going to screw up from time to time and will feel far from your CEO position but you can learn what you need to know and will grow given time—and trial and error.

Are you prepared for the major investment of hours you’ll need to make to transition into a business of your own? You’ll be tempted to work to the point of exhaustion, but don’t run yourself into the ground. Long days are impressive but are counterproductive if they make you sick, and you likely won’t have health insurance if you jump ship to start your own thing. Ask yourself if you have the energy to conduct your business and take care of yourself.

Are you cool with growing your company slowly, so that you can invest more time (which is technically free) than money? (BTW: Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, started that major company as a side hustle in 1995…and it wasn’t until 1999 that it became an actual company.)

Are you prepared? You need to be a self-starter and prepared to earn precarious income. You will have bad months; those are inevitable so it’s vital to have an emergency financial fund of 6-9 month’s worth of expenses saved. When you’re first starting out, budgeting can cause more anxiety than the actual job. The best way is to save enough money before starting your new endeavor and to set a timeline for positive cash flow.

Answered YES to all of these questions? Congrats—you’re prepared to make that hobby a jobby and I wish you every success in the world. Have a few—or all—NOs on your list? Take the time to get your finances and values in order before starting out—and be honest with yourself if you really, truly want to do this. Just preparing to get out the door takes time; make sure it’s time well spent.

When you’re ready to turn this thing into the main course of your career, you’ll still be hustling. That’s the thing about success: it’s a constant hustle.

Success is never owned, it’s rented and rent is due every damn day.

Oh, and there’s no elevator, you gotta take the stairs. So, let’s start climbing.

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