opinion

Should You Really Do What You Love?

Joe D
WORK – easily one of the worst four-letter words in American English!

Not finding the success you thought you would at this stage of the game? Check over your business model, do some comparisons, and see how it measures up – you might be surprised at how close you really are to success and how making a few simple changes just might make all the difference!

We always hear that we should write – or build – or engage in what we know. As Web Developers we often find success with subjects or fields in which we have a significant personal interest – this really is just common sense, don’t you think? The more you know about a subject, the more you can write convincingly about it – the more other like-minded people will see you as an “expert” in your field, and subsequently, the more they will take your advice, believe your reviews and take the steps or purchase the products or services you recommend.

But what sometimes happens - and many people don’t talk about this - is that thing you’ve always loved and had an interest in can ultimately become work – and can lose its luster… Blog about something you enjoy – be it open-wheel racing, baking cupcakes, politics or even porn – and you face the risk of turning the thing you love into something you feel obligated to blog about. It’s not like posting comments to articles and blog stories others have written about – you are the one blogging, posting and writing - and it can easily become WORK.

WORK – easily one of the worst four-letter words in American English! Many of us are work-a-holics, especially in the business of online e-commerce, so it’s easy to see how a simple project dedicated to something we enjoy could quickly turn into a burden or even something we feel loathe to do on a daily basis. Even if you aren’t diligently blogging or site building – say you decide to start selling your homemade candies, hand-knit sweaters or original art…turning a well-loved hobby into a business may sound like a fun smart idea ;-) but it doesn’t always turn out that way in the end…

Martha Stewart did well to turn her hand-made crafts and home-making ideas into a multi-billion dollar business; Paula Deen did well when she turned her family recipes into a catering business, eventually writing cookbooks and starring in her own TV show; and even guys like Andrew Zimmern somehow found a way to turn his love of odd and weird International foods and cultures into big money – but that doesn’t mean that you will – or that you will be ultimately happy with the result. Your hobby can develop into a love-hate relationship – even if you DO find success.

The thing you once did to unwind from your 9-5 job (woodworking, candle-making, etc.) or celebrate holidays (like making grandma’s peanut brittle or fudge) is now by all definitions - WORK. It can change your life – doing what you love – but it can also be the hardest job you’ve ever had, because you are 100% reliant on your own talent, creativity, ingenuity and hard work in order to achieve that success. Talk about pressure!

Before jumping into a business based on your hobby or life-interest you should definitely make a pros and cons list – think about it from every angle. Should you succeed, is this something you want to do day-in and day-out for X amount of years – is this something you can see yourself doing for any length of time down the road? Will it remain a pleasurable activity for you in the new environment? Benefits could be creative freedom, the luxury of setting your own hours, being your own boss – there are many to consider. But without considering the negatives you could be walking head-on into disaster – something you definitely want to avoid. And I have to keep reminding myself, every time I’ve owned a business, setting my own hours meant 24/7/365…

Something to think about is establishing a balance between your hobby and your hobby as a business – setting up boundaries, creating rules so that you hobby you love doesn’t become something you hate. Consider hiring someone to do the accounting, the shipping or even the marketing if you think that will help you keep your eye on the prize – insulate yourself without being overburdened by the business end of things. If that’s not possible, consider going into business with a friend, family member or spouse whose strengths are in the day-to-day of running a business, so you can stay focused on creating the product rather than having to “do it all.” Know your own limits, set up your own rules and even if you are working with a partner or staff, you’ll still be your own boss.

In the end, it’s all about your happiness, and true satisfaction means doing what you love, finding success in it, fulfilling your life mission or calling – and still loving it at the end of the day…

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