You can’t be a little bit “in business” and expect to be successful.
You either are in business (and all that entails) or – you are not.
Too many believe because they are earning money from a hobby they are in the “hobby business.” This is where many find themselves in trouble when they least expect it. There’s a great divide between an avocation and a business. Just because one is earning money (any amount) does not constitute a viable business.
You may love doing it. You may even be making some money but: (and it’s a very big but) hobbies and business are two different disciplines.
You may be lucky as to not have any bad things happen in your hobby pursuits, e.g., not fall under a specific ordinance or tax reporting criteria. Yet try to turn that hobby into a business thinking and acting as if there’s just a difference in the amount of sales generated is a recipe for disaster leading to making costly mistakes.
One mistake can cost you everything in business, and it’s in the discipline of understanding and thinking through that prism that enables one to make calculated and smarter decisions. When something is looked through the prism of a hobby, the business discipline is replaced with a form of familiarity with business principles. Then the hard work of forming a greater understanding is pacified with the back of the mind excuse of: “It’s really only a hobby.”
Many think the defining line is some form of brick and mortar structure, or the day they take on a helper and more is the day when they should consider themselves as a “real business.” However this is the exact thinking that gets many into trouble. You’re in business when you decide your hobby is a business. For that’s when everything, and I mean everything changes.
If you want an example in real-time where one can see the differences first hand, right up close and personal, here’s an exercise you can have fun with and no one around you will be the wiser of what you’re doing.
Next time you go to any craft fair, antique swap, flea market, etc. You will be able to distinguish pretty fast by their demeanor, bargaining, service, and more: which one’s are there to support a hobby, and those that are there to support a business.
If you look for them through the prism of real business, it will show as clear as day.
© 2014 Mark St.Cyr