Michael Kwan (i.e., Me)

Do what you love and the money will follow. It’s a mantra that you hear all the time. People say that one of the greatest goals in life is to take what you love to do and figure out how to make money from it. While I’m talking from the context of an entrepreneurial venture, this could apply just as easily to folks who take their hobbies and turn them into careers working for someone else.

It is with that kind of philosophy that you almost get away from the concept of life-work balance and start to get into life-work integration. This may sound like a great way to live, but there are inherent risks in turning your hobby into a full-time business.

You Start Focusing on Profitability

A business needs to make money. That is its primary objective. And so, as you take on the mentality of a business, some of the other aspects of your “hobby” can start to fade into the background as you start focusing more on profitability. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

What you’ll quickly realize is that there is a lot more to running a business than there was with “running” a hobby. You have to deal with administration, accounting, marketing, customer service, sales… and yes, profitability. If it doesn’t make money, it’s not exactly a viable business opportunity.

Your Life Is Defined By It

Most people have two or more spheres in their lives. One part of their self-image has to do with what they do for a living. That’s the work sphere. I’m a truck driver. I’m a lawyer. I’m a chef.

Another part of your sense of identity comes from what you do for fun. That’s the leisure or personal sphere. I play golf. I sing karaoke. I travel around the world. And let’s not forget about the family life sphere too.

When you combine what is normally your work sphere with your personal sphere, the entirety of your life may not seem quite as diverse. You may not feel quite as multi-faceted, quite as complex, and even quite as fulfilled. It’s almost like your hobby has become a vice that happens to make money. The distinction between work and play is blurred, if not erased completely. Where is the richness and variety that make life worth living?

It Stops Being Fun…

… and it starts feeling like work. This is easily the biggest risk to taking your hobby and trying to convert it into a full-time business. It used to be fun. It used to be pleasurable. It used to be relaxing. Those things can fade when you apply more of a “work” mindset to the exact same tasks. Playing a round of golf with your buddies is not nearly the same as the pressure felt by the pros whose livelihood is based on their performance at the links.

Speaking for myself, I’ve always enjoyed writing and I did it a lot of it for fun for quite some time before I started my freelance writing business. There are certainly times when the writing feels laborious and more like a chore, but I’m thankful that I still derive pleasure from putting together just the right words in just the right order to convey just the right meaning. That’s rewarding to me… and having a business that makes money isn’t so bad either.