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Getting started on turning your hobby into a career

The notion is oft-repeated at graduation ceremonies or passed down from generations: If you find something you love to do, you'll never work a day in your life.

While that's a comforting thought, many adults recognize there are plenty of things they love to do, but no guidebook as to how to turn those beloved hobbies and passions into a career. Though there are no formulas to ensure the transition from hobby to career will be a success, there are ways to make the process go more smoothly and give aspiring entrepreneurs a solid foundation.

* Talk to successful entrepreneurs. One of the best places to start pursuing your dream is to speak to others who have successfully pursued theirs. Chances are things were rocky at the start, but those who made it through those early struggles can likely offer some insight as to possible pitfalls or roadblocks to avoid or look out for. Use their experience to your advantage in an effort to make your transition go more smoothly.

With regard to seeking guidance, even the government might have some advice or offer free seminars to prospective business owners. For example, the U.S. Small Business Adminstration ( offers a host of advice about starting a business. Whether's it's nuts-and-bolts advice about finding funding or less official pointers like finding a mentor to help you through the process, the SBA is a great resource for aspiring business owners. In Canada, the Canada Small Business Financing Program has approved roughly $1 billion annually in loans to businesses since 1999 and makes a great resource for prospective business owners. In addition, prospective business owners should consult a financial advisor to help arrange finances and determine just how much it might cost to develop a new business.

* Don't limit yourself to one idea. If you have a specific idea for a company but the market appears flooded, don't limit yourself to that specific idea. For example, if your passion is lawn care but your community already has several landscaping companies already in operation, consider another idea that allows you to put your green thumb to good use. Perhaps there's a stronger market for a gardening service or a landscape architecture business. Explore all of the possible ways you might be able to turn a hobby into a career, and be as open as possible.

* Determine if there is a customer base. A little market research can go a long way toward turning a hobby into a career. In order for your business to be successful, you will need customers who want to buy your product or services. For example, no matter how big a movie buff you are, you likely won't be successful if you open a video store, since people now have monthly subscriptions that deliver movies directly to their home via the Internet or the postal service. Some basic market research will help you determine if there is a need for your services and how strong that need might be. The stronger the need, the more likely your idea will resonate. If possible, speak with people who already work with your potential clientele and get their opinions on your idea.

* Fully commit. Going into any prospective business venture half-hearted is a recipe for disaster. Though there's no guarantee you will be successful, your chances are much better if you fully commit. Expect to put everything you have into this new venture and recognize that your hobby will no longer be something you do on weekends, but something you do to feed yourself and those who rely on you. Fully committing could likely mean quitting your current job and working around the clock until your fledgling business gets off the ground. If you aren't ready to make a full commitment, be it a financial or emotional investment, then you might to put it on hold until you're truly ready to make the leap.