C&T Q&A – How do you know it’s time to take the leap from hobbyist to business owner?

1-when is it a business final

{Comic Book Jess says ‘Hmmm…’ – photo by smilebooth Australia, edited by moi} 

This week’s question is from Grace, who writes:

How do you take that first step from being a hobbyist to a business owner? i.e …How do you know when the time is right? and What knowledge do you feel is essential before starting your biz (there’s gotta be more than just being ‘crafty’ to succeed).

I love this question – I think it’s one that a lot of people struggle with.

When is the right time? What do I need to know? When do I make the leap from hobby to business?

The short answer?

When you make the decision.

The long answer?

I don’t care how long you’ve been doing your craft as a hobby. It might be 10 years, or you might have started yesterday. I don’t care how much you know about ‘business’. You could have an MBA, or, you could be like me when I started and know pretty much nothing.

Your craft hobby turns into a business when you start treating it like a business.

When you decide to take it – and yourself – seriously.

When you start keeping track of your numbers – your income and expenditure.

When you start thinking like a businesswoman.

When you believe in yourself and your product.

When you start looking at your products from the perspective of your customer, rather than just yourself.

When you attack the Google machine with any question that comes up, and you’ll be dammed if you stop before you find a solution.

When you start to get strategic.

When you analyse your prices to see if you’re making a profit.

When you say ‘I have a business’ to yourself, your family, and that dude you meet in the line at the coffee shop (you gave him your beautiful, professionally printed (or handmade if you’re in letterpress) business card, yeah?).

That is when you have taken the leap.

It’s a leap of faith, to be sure. You don’t know if you’ll ‘succeed’ (whatever that means to you). You don’t know if you’ll ever be able to make enough to quit your job. You don’t know that you’ll still want to be doing this in a year/5 years/10 years time.

You know what? None of us do when we start out. I certainly didn’t. I still don’t know if this is what I’ll be doing in 5 years time. Do I let that hold me back from putting my heart and soul into what I do?


None of that matters.

It’s enough that you want to do it NOW. That you want to throw yourself into this crazy dream and make it happen.

No-one is going to make it happen for you.

You have the power. You have the control. You have the choice.

It’s a business when you say it’s a business.


Need help making the transition from hobby to business? Want to set yourself up for success from the get-go? Come join us and I’ll teach you how to Set Up Shop and get it right, right from the start.


Van Den has written 388 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 Epheriell.com. You can catch her on twitter @JessVanDen.



Great post Jess! Love the point you’ve made.


I completely agree that there is no right time to decide when to step over from “Hobby” to the other side called “Business”. Whether it is this morning, last week or even after you had your third cup of tea, once you get down to being serious and call yourself a business owner, your life is never the same. One thing’s for sure, whether the outcome is good or bad, give yourself a pat on the back for trying!

vicki from in.cube8r

ABSOLUTELY, UNEQUIVICALLY (?) TOTALLY AGREE 110%!! It’s not about how others see you, it’s always about how you see yourself!! Great post Jess, YET AGAIN!!


Thanks my dearest! 🙂


Loved this! One of those post I should have at hand when despair or doubt appear : )


Aye. I started seeing it as a business “too early” (in my eyes). I realized I wasn’t prepared & I’ve spent a year catching up.

But – I would’ve needed that year of trial & error (lots of errors) to understand everything I know now about running a business. You can’t know what it’s like til you try it. I only should have been kinder to myself & more realistic aboud what can happen, so I’d have been more patient with myself about things like taking breaks. It’s all experience 🙂


Brilliant perspective, Rose, I love it!

Hilary Goldman

Great post. I totally connected with it and shared on twitter and will on FB . I’ll never forget when I started crafting soap and buying the base at a local shop (hobby and did sell the soap at my kids fair mainly as a fundraiser). And I was excited that people actually were paying for them. I was buying 3 lb logs at the time. I noticed she was also selling this 45 lb tub. I did a search on the web and figured out who her supplier was – a company that actually formulated the glycerin soap base and they lived 30 minutes from my house. A reputable company who had been in business for over 40 years! I called them and they said they would sell direct but you had to buy a certain minimum – a minimum I was willing to take a risk on. And by direct pickup as well I was saving over $75 in shipping – more than enough to buy another 45 lb tub. And I also discovered the soap colorants were also manufactured locally too. JACKPOT – As much as I appreciated the local brick and mortar shop – by bypassing her – I could get wholesale pricing, get my business license. I realized once I did that, opened my Etsy shop AND got access to quickbooks to figure out the accounting – I was in business! I have a technical background (and did get an MBA but in my profession did not use it much) but I always had nuggets of information to help me along when I worked more directly with business folks. For once I did feel excited knowing I was now applying some of that knowledge directly on me!


Thanks so much for sharing, Hilary! That’s an awesome little story of doing the research to dig deeper into the guts of a business 🙂 Sounds like you got pretty lucky with your suppliers there – nice!

What say you?