Have you ever thought about turning your pastime into a business? Earning money for something you already enjoy doing as a hobby is an exciting proposition, and it could give you a great competitive advantage; however, the reality presents many challenges.

Things you should ask yourself before making the decision:

  • Is the business viable?
  • Can you evaluate yourself realistically?
  • Is there a market for your product or service?

Before you invest your time and money in a new venture, consider whether it could actually work, and whether you can see yourself doing it full time. For example, let's say you've had some success selling your homemade crafts at flea markets or to friends and family. Is there a wider market for your creations? Will you still enjoy the creative process if it becomes ‘work'?

You may not be entirely objective, so it's a good idea to seek advice from someone who isn't emotionally invested. Gather market research so you have the information you need to make good decisions about your business.

Create a plan, and think about the following:

  • How will you go about financing your venture?
  • Are you prepared to scale up if things go well?
  • Do you have a contingency plan?

Even if you take advantage of government or private sector financing, you will likely have to put some of your own money into your business. Be careful with your finances, and invest only what's necessary. You may need more cash down the line, and you also don't want to deplete your savings. Consider reinvesting any early profits you make back into the business. The Business start-up checklist can help you navigate the processes of planning and financing.

Think about whether you will be ready to expand if necessary, and what you'll do if things don't work out as you'd hoped. Surround yourself with people and resources you can call on when you need them. Having a strong plan and a support network in place will help you deal with whatever comes up, and get the most out of the experience.