Many people detest their jobs. They find ways to feign illness and take sick leave when the opportunity presents itself, literally fly out of the office as soon as it’s 5 PM (in some cases, much earlier), and count the days to the weekend with agitated anticipation. They have to live with this miserable routine because it puts food on their table. The usual reason they give for staying in a dissatisfying job is that it’s safe. You can’t be sure that there’s anything else to hold on to out there, and if you make the ‘mistake’ of venturing out into the big bad world without the 9-5 tent, you’ll almost certainly wind up with tales of woe.
But is the need to avoid ‘stories that touch’ good enough for anyone to maintain a position that leaves them unfulfilled and less productive than they could really be? The appeal to a ‘financial safety first’ philosophy by people who are deciding what career path they want to follow has done many of them- as well as the companies that eventually hire them -more harm than good. I’ll go as far as saying that it’s wreaked havoc on Nigeria’s economic productivity. There are too many workers handling their jobs sloppily, and it’s not always because they’re just lazy and indisciplined. You can only handle work that you consider drudgery for so long.
An obvious solution to this problem is making a career out of (one or more of) your hobbies. This advice isn’t being given by motivational speakers alone. Although there are a lot of die-hard fans of the ‘go for the money first’ idea, support for a more passion-driven approach to career and entrepreneurship is growing quite rapidly. Today, you’re not as likely to be viewed as silly for deciding to (gradually) migrate from a 9-5 job to start up a venture that makes you happy to get out of bed in the morning. The fact that there are so many success stories from people who have taken this alternate route to a rewarding career makes the case for it even stronger.
But we still have to be realistic. In many ways, it is a big bad world out there, and unless you’ve got4 your game together, your own story could become an example that the old school ‘make the money first’ camp points to as a reason why pursuing one’s passion isn’t a sensible thing to do. Here we’ll show you how to turn that hobby of yours into a thriving business.
- Get ready to work hard. Really hard.
It won’t be fair to lead you into thinking that building a career out of your hobby will be easy. It won’t be. This is true whether you’re a 9-5 person looking to start something up, someone who’s new to business, or an unhappy worker who wants to switch to a career that they love.
For people who already have a full-time job, the struggle will be with finding time to work on their hobby-inspired side hustle. If you need help on this front, read our article How To Effectively Manage Time for Your Side Hustle.
Regardless of where you’re approaching this from, building a business from scratch isn’t going to be plain sailing. If setting up requires significant amounts of funding, you should start saving. Put in as much time into learning how to use your hobbies to solve real-world problems, because this is what will actually make it profitable (more on this later). Don’t be put off by the shortening of your rest period or the fact that you have to take on jobs during weekends as a way of starting off. Take the things you let go off as necessary sacrifices for a fulfilling future, and grind on.
- Find a need you can meet with your hobby, and tackle it
Where there’s a need for something, there’s a market for it. Sometimes it’s easy to see how your hobbies can be adapted to solving problems and creating value. For example, a person who loves fashion and drawing could meld these to create a fashion designing career for himself. But it’s not always as clear-cut as this. It might take a lot of thinking and research to find out how you can make money from an activity you like engaging in. But it can be done.
Kelechi Anyadiegwu, a Nigerian entrepreneur based in the United States, was able to combine two of her passions- technology and fashion -to build a multi-million dollar business. She now runs Zuvaa, an online marketplace that enables producers of African textile prints to sell their wares to customers across the world. Her accomplishment is due in large part to her ability to build online communities and her long-standing love for African fashion.
- Bring the business element into your hobby
Treat your hobby like it’s a business. If you used to get things done for people for free because you liked doing them, start charging money- even if it’s a token. This is a good way to start things off. Spread the word about what you’re offering, by telling people in face to face meetings and social media. Make the message clear, and put it out there consistently.
Get organized. Sharpen the crude points around your hobbies by learning about your chosen business from books, online articles, and videos. Present yourself as a professional (or professional in the making) and work towards being one. Build contacts, network, and keep marketing yourself whenever you have the chance to do so.
- Get together with like-minded people
It’s hard to overestimate the effect that meeting up with people who share your dreams and aspirations can do for your drive and determination. This is one reason a lot of entrepreneurs like attending conferences and networking events. There’s also the exciting prospect of meeting someone who could give you the hookup you need to set sail on your dream career journey. You shouldn’t neglect events like these.
Kelechi Udoagwu and Tope Agunbiade met at the Meltwater School of Entrepreneurial Technology in 2015. Through the conversations they had with each other, they discovered that they both loved well-written pieces and were passionate about startups. They’ve since launched Skrife, a platform which connects freelancers to startups and larger corporations in several countries. Skrife would probably never have happened if Udoagwu and Agunbiade hadn’t crossed paths.
You’ll need a hefty dose of patience and steely grit to negotiate the challenging route to becoming what you’ve always wanted to be. But fix your eyes on the goal and cast off every distraction with words of inspiration- from within you or from elsewhere. Learn from people who have gone before you on the road you’ve chosen to take, and apply the tips we’ve given here. Your success will come as surely as the dawning of a new day if you get these things right and just keep pushing in the direction of fulfillment.