Author Topic: Can a Hobby Become a Business?  (Read 19267 times)

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Offline Psi

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #25 on: February 11, 2023, 12:52:06 pm »
yeah, the regulation certification thing is a difficult decision. It's pretty common for tiny 1 person company/self-employed person to not bother doing it when starting out.
It's really something you have to make a call on with regard to the specific risks (of your product type) and the costs, and when you want to start doing it.

There are more risks when you are selling your product within your own country than when you only export it.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2023, 12:56:42 pm by Psi »
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Offline ebastler

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #26 on: February 18, 2023, 07:56:25 pm »
yeah, the regulation certification thing is a difficult decision. It's pretty common for tiny 1 person company/self-employed person to not bother doing it when starting out.
It's really something you have to make a call on with regard to the specific risks (of your product type) and the costs, and when you want to start doing it.

There are more risks when you are selling your product within your own country than when you only export it.

This is the kind of topic where it would be really helpful to know your country of residence for perspective.
 

Online BTO

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #27 on: April 26, 2023, 02:59:10 pm »
OK,
Short Answer : YES... HELL YES!!

A Bit Longer Answer :
I'm 49,
Started Electronics (Technically speaking) at the age of 4
Got into it seriously from the age of 6  (150 in 1 Dick Smith Electronics Kit), Then later your Jaycar kits and Short Circuit Mags 1-3

From here i could go on about a big story (that basically everyone has already stated)
WHAT'S IMPORTANT REALLY..... IS THIS

1. If you're going to do this and work for someone, it won't be worth it (very likely it won't be, but not certain)
2. IF YOU DO IT AS YOUR OWN BUSINESS...... YES... ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT

3. A Few Pointers
- Love what you do and don't worry about Money initially   (Money will be there, No Question)
- Get Really Really good at what you are doing (also get good at understanding people and customer service)
- In a business 1 thing is key,   YOU MUST ALWAYS HAVE THE ABILITY TO ALWAYS GENERATE IDEAS
- After that YOU MUST KNOW HOW TO SELL,  Although if you are good at what you do people will buy what you are offering
- Know how NOT to cut yourself short,  So as a general rule you should not work for less than $100 Per hour
  (Now.. if you look at that figure and say ... WTF ???   then.. that's your first problem,   you need to get to a point where , when you look
  at that number you are saying things more like "Yeah, i agree, around there is a minimum and $100 is pretty low")
So.. you can start a business but then it fails because you don't know how to quote

- Things will be fun and enjoyable,  but then things will also be shit,   it can't always be fun.
- You can learn how to integrate certain projects to be fun, You can learn how to make excuses to crack out your scope or L.A.
   on certain projects even though they were not necessarily needed

and all this amounts to you learning more stuff, and it'll be cool

but yes you can
just to give you an idea... I'm in Sydney,  I'm personally making around $1,000 - $3,000 per day (6 days a week)
(and.. You should work 6 days,  but not 7 because you'll burn out)  and then when you make these rates
you'll find maybe once a month you get a job that is like $10,000 or something like that, that pushes you forward

After a while money becomes less important and you focus more on the work and being good at what you do.
But you must always respect the business formula that keeps you in this situation and keeps money coming in.

For me the formula is
- Always be good at what you're doing
- Always pay attention to detail and ensure the client is happy
- Dont' focus on the money while working, never focus on the money.. FOCUS ON FIXING THE PROBLEM
- Identify bad habits and turn them into good habits
- Always look for ideas and opportunities

you do that.. and you'll make a decent amount of money
there is no question as to whether you can do this or not ,  BUT IT'S NOT EASY
but the catch is... If you get past "HARD" You get the reward.

QUESTION EVERYTHING!!!
 

Offline Georgy.Moshkin

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #28 on: May 19, 2023, 07:02:13 am »
I am 40 and transitioning. At first, I tried to find an investor for my accessibility wearable device project. What I needed is more time to work on my project, at least few months of full focus. I did all prototyping using my own money. I asked several potential investors to pay for my rent, but nobody agreed. Around one year ago I had a new idea, instead of doing this big project, I just teardown it to a smaller parts and design independent products based on microwave sensing, gesture sensing, image processing, haptics and maybe more. Currently I am making what I believe may become world's best gesture sensing module. For the past year I've learned how to accept payments, logistics. If you plan to make your hobby a Business, you obviously need a way of accepting payments and selling ways, YouTube channel, online shop.
I designed electronics, some enclosures machined parts, bent parts, firmware, gui, websites, even carton for product package and eva linings, and in my opinion I was underpaid, often just to make product sell well, because other engineers did not do they work well in the past and created long lasting problems. So additional reason to make your own engineering business is to avoid anxiety of solving stupid problems and not being paid enough, because money is already spent in the past
« Last Edit: May 19, 2023, 07:30:36 am by Georgy.Moshkin »
 

Offline ebastler

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #29 on: May 19, 2023, 10:42:20 am »
just to give you an idea... I'm in Sydney,  I'm personally making around $1,000 - $3,000 per day (6 days a week)
(and.. You should work 6 days,  but not 7 because you'll burn out)  and then when you make these rates
you'll find maybe once a month you get a job that is like $10,000 or something like that, that pushes you forward

In the interest of managing expectations: That's revenue, right? I understand that you are installing network/computing/satellite stuff, so probably a fair share of 3rd party hardware cost, plus costs to keep the shop, car(s) and equipment running. Could you please give an indication of the actual bottom line, if you feel comfortable with that?
 

Online IanJ

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #30 on: May 19, 2023, 12:16:29 pm »
Hobby--->---Business

Yes, I've done just that. I started out wanting to build and adjustable voltage reference for myself and throughout prototyping I realised I could make it a commercial product.
I did the sums, watched Dave's old video on pricing your product......did more sums, looked at supplier costs, did more sums and then decided I could afford out of my own pocket to "try" a batch.
I have never looked back............

I'm in the UK.

- Keep your day job until you have been through a few cycles of building batches and selling. From that you'll get feedback as to it's validity in the market.
- Depending on your own financial circumstances you may want to keep the day job and have it an evening/weekend business. Beats the hell out of vegetating infront of the Tv.
- Supplier costs, Tax, incidentals, packaging etc etc will all add up and quite significantly so, so keep doing the sums. An Excel spreadsheet with formulae you can continually add/tweak is a good idea.
- Get a proper courier account, it will save you loads, especially international.
- Speak to an accountant and/or research tax implications.
- CE/UKCA/UL etc.......thats another ball game!
- Steer away from mains AC stuff unless you KNOW what you are doing.....if somebody gets hurt you may be liable.
- Get liability insurance.
- Do more sums.
- Don't cut corners.
- Try not to outsource everything. I.E. build your own website, don't pay companies to do it.

If you don't find it fun then it won't last.......so have fun!

Ian.
Ian Johnston - Original designer of the PDVS2mini || Author of the free WinGPIB app.
Website - www.ianjohnston.com
YT Channel (electronics repairs & projects): www.youtube.com/user/IanScottJohnston, Twitter (X): https://twitter.com/IanSJohnston
 

Offline Georgy.Moshkin

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #31 on: May 20, 2023, 02:02:21 am »
- Supplier costs, Tax, incidentals, packaging etc etc will all add up and quite significantly so, so keep doing the sums. An Excel spreadsheet with formulae you can continually add/tweak is a good idea.
A very good advice! I use SpeqMath to calculate BOM, manufacturing price, and doing sums using formulas, e.g. "price1=sp213+hlk0505a+(stm32f030+adum1201)*0+1*el6n137s+stm32f030", where multiplying by zero is to remove certain function. I always round up use higher component prices in these formulas. Also, I use "NEEDVIEWS=SOLD*100/CONVERSION" formula with a conversion rate from 0.1% (1 unit sold per 1000 views/clicks/etc.), and have "SOLD" variable calculated before based on other goals. Using IanJ's advice you can filter out ideas just by looking at your spreadsheets.
Do not forget your hobby ideas. I have a ZimWiki database where I store all my ideas and screenshots:
- screenshots of product negative reviews on Amazon, YouTube, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, tindie, sparkfun, adafruit, arduino websites, etc.. Helps to understand the problem need to be solved (I've learned one either need to make a product cheaper or with performance level difficult to achieve by competitors)
- screenshots from keyword research prices. I subscribed to Mangools for a short amount of time and exported all the data to keywords I was interested in (search volume, search trends - some topics become obsolete in next few years, similar keywords, etc..). There are free research tools as well.
- at some point stop researching and focus on a product itself. I recommend everyone to find "How Games Can 100x You and Break Reality" video, it is very short and resonates strongly with hobby to business transition. Without making first moves your brain do not have enough information to make next decision. It's like a mechanical clock, you can't put clock arrows in right position without gears moving, so you need to start your "brain gears" moving by starting doing something about your hobby to business transition. By constantly reviewing your ideas and performing calculations you may find some topic you are good at, which matches with your hobby preferences.  I have abandoned few projects, have some unused parts and samples worth 2k USD, but it was worth it. I finally found some topics worth focusing on, hope you can do it too.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2023, 02:05:38 am by Georgy.Moshkin »
 

Offline tkamiya

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #32 on: May 25, 2023, 07:39:08 pm »
Yes.  I've done it few times.

In early days of my life, electronics were my hobby.  I built radios and what not.  Later in my life, I started Ham Radio.  Then I worked for a Ham Radio store, and later, got a job at a custom electronics company.  I enjoyed it at first, then I realized I lost my hobby.

In mid part of teens, I got interested in computers.  Took many many computer languages courses, and did plenty of self-study.  10 years later, I got a job as a software support person, then a developer.  I enjoyed it at first, then I realized I lost my hobby.

At early part of Covid-19, I was laied off from above mentioned job.  Got another support job.  I couldn't do it.  Then tried electronics repair job.  My medical condition got in the way.  Also, I lost joy in my life, which has always been my hobbies.

So, my answer is, yes, they can be done and they were quite profitable.  But did it increase quality of my life?  I'm still looking for an answer for that.  All I can say right now is, approach with caution.  Have a long term vision.  I cut out unrelavant portion of my job history and left out just enough to make my point.
 

Offline nigelwright7557

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #33 on: May 25, 2023, 09:10:12 pm »
A hobby can turn into a profitable or none profitable business.
The trick is to find something that isnt being sold for peanuts but has a good profit margin.

I used to sell audio modules on ebay but competition killed it.
You can now buy fully finished modules for less than I can buy the components.

I wrote and sold pcb design software for a while but free software killed that and others selling it at a couple of pounds.

I now sell hardware/software systems at a small profit as a business seller on ebay.
Its fun so long as I dont get too much work as then it becomes a chore.
 

Offline Georgy.Moshkin

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #34 on: May 26, 2023, 01:42:44 am »
The trick is to find something that isnt being sold for peanuts but has a good profit margin.
And high entry barriers. Something that ordinary engineer can't easily reproduce. Something that big company would avoid, because man-hours will not pay off. You must have an advantage. I personally give special attention to the engineering topics that have no good affordable solution for a decade or more: you already have all user feedback, know what people dreams are, know what people looking for, have search history dynamics over time all the required information to predict sales, marketing, perform feasibility tests.

I wrote and sold pcb design software for a while but free software killed that and others selling it at a couple of pounds.
That is why I think the best solution is to create a personal brand. Imagine if Dave of EEvblog created each video without appearing himself in the picture, uploading each video on a different channel. It would dissolve in the ocean of information. You need to prepare a sticker that people can put in their brain. There are great videos and there are videos that are "less great", but only when put together it creates a trusted, well recognized personal brand. Imagine Tesla, SpaceX, Boring Company and Elon Musk separately.  Mutual simultaneous amplification of different topics with a single "Elon Musk sticker" in our heads. If someone recognizes you, remembers your great product, most likely they will put significant attention to yours even if it costs more.

I think that simple idea explained in "How Games Can 100x You and Break Reality" video may be applied for this hobby to business transitions. First moves and goals, the earlier your start the better.

Offline V_King

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #35 on: June 27, 2023, 08:47:04 am »
A bit of the advice if you really want to have your sidehussle become a successful business - treat it as a business, not a hobby. Otherwise you will end up sinking all your savings, time and after a few years of burning yourself out multiple times, you will just want everything to go away.
I wish I had this advise when I started, instead of listening to "just go for it", "be your own boss" etc. It does not work like that. Idea is just and idea, product on it's own is just a product, you need a plan, you need to spend some time learning the ropes of business (financial planning, marketing, etc etc). No matter how boring or irrelevant that might sound. It is quite simple stuff, but a lot of people starting in business just ignore it or push it to a side before it is too late.
In other words work on your business, not for your business.   
« Last Edit: June 27, 2023, 08:48:44 am by V_King »
 

Offline hneve

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #36 on: November 13, 2023, 07:57:04 pm »
I've seen hobbies turn into successful businesses firsthand. Like me, I was obsessed with finding the perfect coffee. Local cafes just didn't cut it, so I started experimenting with different beans and brewing methods at home. It was just fun at first, but I shared some with coworkers, who loved it. That's when I thought, why not make this a thing? Fast forward a bit, and I opened a small boutique café. It started tiny, just me and a few seats, but now it's grown into a bustling spot.
And then there's my friend. He's always been a car fanatic, loved driving and knew everything about different models. Like a personalised chauffeur service, he started driving people around in his spare time. Initially, It was pretty casual, but he saw an opportunity to grow. He invested in a couple more vehicles and expanded his services. He runs a full-blown transportation service known for being the best Reliable Transportation to Copper Mountain.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2023, 05:26:36 pm by hneve »
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Offline Psi

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #37 on: November 13, 2023, 11:09:56 pm »
The trick is to find something that isn't being sold for peanuts but has a good profit margin.

Yep, that is the real tick, to find something that is high profit but also low enough sales that no company would bother with it.

One thing you can do is look for medium size companies who have discontinued one of their products and where you find people on forums annoyed by it.

Products often get discontinued not because they aren't making money, but because sales of them is lower than other products, and the company want to replace lower sales products with newer different high sales products.

Since a hobbyists has orders of magnitude less costs/expenses than a company that discontinued product can be a goldmine if you can design and sell your own version. Especially since there may already be a market for it and people asking where they can get one now that X brand is discontinued. Obviously there can be copyright/IP issues in some cases, but usually not.

The industry you pick for your product is super important. Stay away from stuff made for the general public!   Automotive is good for high profits and there's lots of niche things people want to fix a problem with some custom build they are doing. And they are willing to pay top $ for it. eg, $50-$100 BOM cost and $400-$1000 sale price, that sort of thing. 
« Last Edit: November 13, 2023, 11:19:01 pm by Psi »
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