One of the main reasons we have a hobby is because we love it, whether it’s gardening, restoring antiques, weightlifting, or pottery making. That can mean we’re passionate about it. And passion is one of the elements of psychological capital needed to run a successful business — why spend your time on a business you don’t like? It’s a pretty safe bet that you also know quite a lot about your hobby, which will be an advantage if you choose to make a small business out of it.
Considerations about hobby-based small businesses
Passion is fantastic, but turning passion into profit takes serious work, and a serious understanding of how to run a business. You may know a lot about your hobby, but you know it from a hobbyist’s point of view, not an entrepreneur’s. You may be able to compose, shoot and develop the perfect photograph, but can you source suppliers? Negotiate contracts? Find tax breaks? Ask yourself if you’ll still enjoy your hobby once the more stressful everyday components of entrepreneurship are mixed in.
Entrepreneurship is a lot of work, and starting a small business doing something you already enjoy is a huge motivator in getting up every morning and doing all that hard work. You can turn your hobby into a small business, but make sure that you have a good foundation of small business knowledge and skills too – that’ll help turn your great business idea into a successful business.
At GoForth Institute, we love teaching would-be entrepreneurs all the skills they’ll need to succeed in small business. And we definitely include youth in that category, as we’ve shown with our entrepreneurship education for high school that’s being taught to Canadian high school students right now. Comprehensive small business education is about more than sales and marketing. It teaches crucial skills like financial wisdom, risk management, creativity, and ethics – skills that are invaluable both inside and outside the business world.
“They think the K-to-12 curriculum gives you the base and then you apply it at the post-secondary level. They don’t believe there is fundamental value in teaching courses on project management, budgeting or understanding the concept of profit.”
Although Mawji says some critics will say business has no place in an elementary or secondary school classroom, fearing it may lead to the profit-driven commercialization of education, he believes such fears are misplaced.
“We’re not talking about bringing specific brands into the equation. We’d talking about entrepreneurial concepts. Starbucks isn’t going to sponsor a course, that’s not the plan,” he says.
In the app, students demonstrate key concepts, work through a gamified business simulation and take quizzes, all in an entertaining, interactive, mobile environment. The CBC featured students from Leduc Composite High School, who are testing the app before its release across Alberta.
You can read the CBC article here and view the accompanying video here.
Do you believe entrepreneurship can be learned? Or do you believe the only way to learn how to run a business is to get out there and learn from the school of hard knocks?
At GoForth Institute, we fall somewhere in the middle of these two camps. We believe that vital small business skills can be learned first and practiced second. This takes me back to the days of wanting to learn to ride a motorcycle. Growing up with older brothers who were into anything with wheels, I had the opportunity to ride motorcycles as a passenger, or “two up” as we say, but never as the operator. I was about 35 with children of my own when I decided it was time to take my rightful place behind the throttle. Those of you in the learn-by-doing category would say, “Hey, just hop on. You’ll figure it out. After a couple of crashes, you’ll learn what not to do.” Those of you in the learn-by-education category would suggest a class on safe motorcycling first, correct?
I believe in reducing risk – the risk that my sons would grow up without their mom. Off I went to motorcycle school – a one week intensive classroom and parking lot skills training program. Got my license, bought a small Honda 250 Rebel and starting practicing my new skills on my new bike in my neighbourhood. Starting, stopping, turning, signalling, shifting, braking, emergency braking – all manoeuvres that were new to me. My instructor told me to practice these skills 80 times each – correctly. That’s the point at which muscle memory takes over. She told us you won’t have time to think on a motorcycle in an emergency. The difference between life and death is the rider’s muscle memory. I put 3,500kms on my Honda before I left the neighbourhood. Obsessive? Maybe. After several years of cautious city riding and practice in parking lots, it was back to school with a new, more powerful motorcycle – but this time it was race school. Fast forward 12 years, I still ride and my husband and one of our sons rides too. It’s a great family activity and a great way for me to leave the stress of entrepreneurship behind for an hour or so.
Learning to run a business can be the same. Take the time to learn the skills that will keep you alive out there – practice them in a safe environment before you take them to the streets. Take some small business training, learn to apply those skills, and take more training as your skills improve and you want to take your business to the next level. Don’t forget your helmet and enjoy the ride!