Do what you love and love what you do.
How often have we heard this line? Or its familiar cousin: “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Maybe that’s true for small percentage, but for the rest of us, even if we’re lucky enough to have a job we love we’re probably working like crazy to make sure it succeeds.
Following your passion is hard work. Entrepreneurs work long and hard hours, often for very little (or no!) paycheck. But with dedication it can prove rewarding and worthwhile.
We work with many clients who took that leap of faith and are now making a lucrative living doing what they love, whether it’s photography, caring for animals, architecture, medical services, craft beer, fashion or more. But those same people also have to deal with things they’re well, less passionate about such as HR, shipping logistics, billing, sales, marketing, accounting and all the operational issues that come along with running a business.
Hmm... If I brew it, will people drink it?
If you’re considering taking your passion to the next level, I encourage you to begin the research. You may be on your way to a dream come true. But don't forget to do a reality check. Before you take the plunge to turn your passion into a business, consider the following:
1). Research the Industry – If you’re not already, you’ll want to become an expert in the industry. Ask questions from people in the field. Research the trends, key players, competition, customer demographics, etc. Are there must-attend events or conferences? Groups or organizations you can join?
2). Determine the Need/Opportunity – This is important. The most successful entrepreneurs are those that used their passion to solve problems or provide solutions for customers. It’s great if you love something, but in order to convince people to to pay for your goods/services they need to fulfill a (real or perceived) need.
3). Find Supporters – Find mentors and people that have expertise in the areas you don’t. Ask questions. Solicit feedback. Find people that will tell you the truth, not just want you want to hear.
4). Create a Business Plan – This will force you to consider all the aspects of running a business including accounting, HR issues, shipping logistics, operational costs, cash flow, etc. It will also help you plan your marketing budget. Even with a great product, if nobody knows about it you'll have a hard time taking it the next level. This takes planning, time and, of course, money.
5). Start on the Side – Many successful business started as a side business. You can dedicate your free time to a passion while still bringing in a steady paycheck. Over time it may take off and you can quit your day job. This smart approach allows you to build a client base and build a safety net. It's also a great way to test the waters and gauge the demand and sustainability of your passion. Also, if you’re worried the hobby you love might turn into work that you dread when it’s a “have to,” better to find out sooner rather than later.
6). Have a Backup Plan – Not to be Debbie Downer, but it’s a good idea to have a Plan B. Every now and then you’ll hear a celebrity brag that she "never thought to have a backup plan." She just always new he was going to be a famous singer. Brilliant for her, but for the other 99.9% of us... If your venture is a total flop, how will you pay your rent? Will you be able to get another job easily? Do you have kids depending on you? Considering these things doesn’t mean you’re a pessimist or not confident in your product or skills. Instead, it means you’re a responsible business owner who wants to do the right thing for his customers and family.
So with all that said, go ahead and start milling the grain for your craft beer business. Even if it doesn't end in a successful brewery, you'll at least have something to drown your sorrows away. Just don't quit your day job. Yet. Cheers!