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[62] Making the Transition from Hobbyist to Business Owner

This episode takes a look at some key steps in the process of making the transition from hobbyist to business owner.

It can be difficult to define when you make this transition, and it can be a strange feeling suddenly classing yourself as a business owner. It may even be something you’re feeling resistance and fear to. And that’s perfectly normal – but if you’re waiting for someone else to make the decision for you, you’ll be waiting forever.

If you’ve ever wondered…

When will I be ready?

How do I know when it’s the right time?

And what changes will I need to prepare myself for in order to make this transition?

… then this episode is for you.

I discuss what changes you need to expect and anticipate, and some key realisations that you will most likely come across when you make the decision to transition from hobbyist to business owner.

Most importantly – I point out challenges you will face so that you know what you will be up against, and they won’t take you by surprise…



Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • You will find as your business evolves that you will be making product that works for your brand not necessarily stuff you love.
  • This can be a huge sticking point – making for customers rather than for you.
  • ‘The fact of the matter is that if you do want to have a successful and profitable business it is extremely difficult to do it with one of a kind designs’ {Jess}
  • Wholesale and online selling can be very difficult when it comes to one of a kind items unless you are making high end products.
  • It is normal to come up against a wall with time limits.
  • Making reproducible items is an important consideration when making the transition from hobby to business.
  • Freedom of expression can be lost through turning your passion into a business.
  • You start spending most of your time making what other people want rather than what you want.
  • A lot of your time will be spent doing things other than making.
  • ‘When you have a business you have to do all of the business part too’ {Jess}
  • A minimum of 50% of your time will be spent on the business side of things especially when you are starting out with the transition from hobby to business.
  • You have to find that time and be willing to spend it on these tasks.
  • ‘You can’t just have a passion for what you make. You actually have to have a passion for business and all of the stuff that goes along with it’ {Jess}
  • You cannot grow your business without doing all that extra work.
  • Find the parts of the business that you love doing and embrace these.
  • You need to find what sort of business model is going to work for you and the lifestyle you want. This isn’t always something you can work out straight away.
  • If you make the transition from hobby to business you won’t be able to always just do the things you enjoy.
  • Look at these parts of the business as a challenge rather than a burden.
  • So how do you know when it is the right time to make the transition?
  • ‘Your hobby becomes a business when you start treating it like a business and when you decide that it is a business.’ {Jess}
  • You will need to start looking at the business from the perspective of the customer and you need to get strategic.
  • It can be a weird feeling for a lot of people and can fill you with self doubt when you start calling yourselves business owners.
  • You don’t have to have it all figured out to start, just start! You can figure it out and make it happen as you go.
  • Make sure to check out my new program (starting July 18) – Your Year to Thrive! I will help you get clear of ALL of this.


Download or Listen to This Episode

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Van Den has written 319 posts in this blog.

Jess Van Den is the editor of Create & Thrive, and has been a full-time creative entrepreneur since 2010. She makes eco-conscious, contemporary, handmade sterling silver jewellery under the Epheriell label, and blogs about her jewellery and other beautiful things at You can catch her on twitter @JessVanDen.



The words “my business” came out of my mouth at a recent symposium and I could hardly believe I was saying it! On the upside, it seems to be effective in getting people to take the work you do seriously. So when I say I’m working on my business today (instead of I’m working on my art today) people say “oh sorry, did I interrupt you, I better let you get on with it” 😉

Fran Davidson

Big encouraging words. I’m still in the ‘selling to friends if they ask’ part of the circle :). I’m considering making some pieces and approaching a few business outlets here, just to test the waters and popularity of my craft. That first step of faith is scary

Suze Harris

Hello Jess. I have only recently started listening to your podcasts. I find them very interesting and uplifting. It’s like having a friend chatting with you, saying you can do this, you can succeed with your business. I am only just starting out with a pyrography (wood burning) business and it is so helpful to feel like I have a friend supporting me.
I will definitely be signing up for your new course in July.


This came just when I needed it! Here’s a question, Jess. Part of being a business owner on my mind is paying myself- any tips or advice on how and when to figure out how much to pay yourself from what you bring in?


Hi Jess,
I’ve heard you say plenty of times that it’s difficult to maintain a jewelry business making OOAK pieces and I certainly grasp the reasoning behind this idea. I’m grappling with this concept however, as I really desire to do OOAK and, a little later down the road, custom designs for clients. My business idea is based around the idea of making OOAK or limited edition pieces using vintage and retro fabrics or (for custom designs) jewelry made using a client’s cherised fabric. If I were to pursue this course despite the risks involved, can you offer up any suggestions that would give me a better chance for success? Would 2 of each jewelry design suffice (one that could be sold at market and the other on Etsy, as these are the two sales channels I’m leaning toward before starting custom designs.) Are there any jewelry designers out there you know of that are successfully selling OOAK pieces that are NOT considered fine jewelry or sold at luxury prices. (My statement necklaces will average between $80 and $140, mainly due to design and labor time) Should I avoid Etsy entirely? I feel like there must be some way to make this work…or is that just wishful thinking? Thanks so much for your continued support and education!

Tabitha Goings (@junkbox_design)

What say you?