Turning Your Hobby Into a Business

There's still time to buy your ticket to Small is Beautiful on Wednesday 15 June for only £79 – buy your ticket now!


Many people come into the world of microenterprises by making the big decision to turn their hobby into a business. It isn't always so straight-forward though. Anyone who has started a microenterprise knows that if you aren't careful, you end up spending so much time on the business of the business that you spend less time on actually doing the thing you love.

Talking to clients and commissioners, keeping the website and social media up to date, turning up at be-seen-at events, keeping on top of invoices and cashflow, maintaining your studio/office/equipment, answering emails and calls, managing your crowdfunding campaign – all things you have to do whether you are a poet, a photographer, a dancer, a jeweller, a writer, a baker, a florist, a toy maker, a therapist, a cyclist, a yoga teacher, or a linguist.

This isn't just an issue for micros. It is also an issue for anyone who cares about the stuff of their work – in larger organisations, say for example, a newspaper or even a theatre, the further up the ladder of success you go the more likely you are to be taken into more management responsibilities and less doing the thing you started out to do. This is all the more real as budgets get tighter, as business models focussed on the bottom line get squeezed in all the wrong places, and as the wider world adjusts to social, environmental and other pressures. The world of work and of making money meaningfully is tough.

One of the things that is exciting about the world of microenterprises at the moment, is the range of imaginative and creative approaches that you can take is vast. At Small is Business we talk a lot about how you can work ON your business just as imaginatively, creatively and meaningfully, as you can IN your business (on the stuff you love) and that is the route to making it work for you.

With a good combination of deep self-awareness of the things you can and can't to/love and don't love; a real understanding of all the different possible routes to do what you want to do (i.e. not necessarily following conventional routes into a particular 'career'), and by working with other micros and freelancers, you can actually create a bespoke business from the stuff you love. You might not earn the same kind of money as Philip Green (ahem) but you will and can earn enough of the kind of money that will allow you to do the things you want to do.

The RSA undertook an important piece of research into the Power of Small, which they published last year. Many economists think that we micros are simply dabblers or 'hobbyists'. That our collective value to the economy – all us micros make up 94% of registered businesses – is minimal. This is not, in fact, true. In terms of productivity, innovation and employment, microenterprises are absolutely holding their own in this fast changing environment, and we offer a diversity into the economy and to our communities which can offer much greater resilience, wellbeing and social cohesion.

The sorts of things that matter to make the impact you want are your willingness to be imaginative, to be true to your passion, to make sure you talk to like-minded people (as in other micros – don't get advice from people who run large organisations – that's totally different) and of course come to Small is Beautiful in Edinburgh on Wednesday 15 June to hear from our international speakers about how to make the thing you love be the thing that helps you thrive and make a living – in the real sense of the word.