Author Topic: Can a Hobby Become a Business?  (Read 22247 times)

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Offline zeke.Topic starter

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Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« on: November 02, 2022, 12:12:36 am »
hello all

I'm curious if there are people on the forum who turned their electronics hobby or some other hobby into a business. Anyone on hear have some stories to share? Just looking for some inspiration to start my own side gig or the reality of chasing your dreams lol
 

Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2022, 12:21:08 am »
There is another thread on this subject.  The answer is yes, but there is more worth reading.
 

Offline David Aurora

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2022, 01:18:18 am »
Yep, it definitely can in my experience.

My story was that I was doing electronics as a hobby and kind of out of necessity too. I was a musician/music producer making fuck all money, and aside from always wishing I knew electronics I had also gotten sick of getting way overcharged by shit techs for shoddy work. After fixing some of my own gear and building some of my own designs I started doing the same for family/friends etc, though it was still just a hobby.

Then I changed cities with the intention of getting whatever temporary shitkicking job I could to pay the bills for a few months while I set up a new life and decided what to do next. After a few weeks of job hunting with no luck a friend of a friend here needed a bit of audio gear repaired, and when I did that he sent his bandmate in straight away with more gear (at this point I was working from the kitchen of my shitty little unit). When the phone kept ringing after they spread my name around I rented a tiny workshop a few streets away, then a bigger one, then a better one, and I'm about to come up to 7 years in business here.

So yeah, in my case it was a complete accident, but it worked out. I think the key part of it successfully going from hobby to business was that being a hobbyist allows you the luxury of obsessing. When you're not charging (or you're charging peanuts) you can spend 10 hours digging into an obscure fault or honing a particular skill purely for the learning experience (it gets reeeeeeally hard to do that when it's a business you're running). Those niche skills become major assets in business. For example, one thing I got pretty good at as a hobbyist was cleaning up hacky repairs other people had done- things like PCB track repair, identifying and correcting poor quality mod work, etc. I took a bunch of pride in not just half assing things like the techs around me seemed to be doing, and customers really seem to appreciate those efforts now that I do this professionally.
 
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Offline zeke.Topic starter

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2022, 04:31:45 pm »
Would you know the name of the thread?
 

Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2022, 09:12:47 pm »
I used the forum search feature (upper right corner of the page) and found several mentions and short discussions of hobbies becoming professions, but did not find an entire thread on the subject.  Apparently I was remembering some other forum or media that I follow. 

From memory, here are some things to think about.

1.  Often a hobby is a vehicle to escape from the pressures of life.  Think about whether it has this purpose in your life.

2.  There is a risk of turning a hobby you enjoy into the mill stone around your neck.

3.  Think about the business prospects.  What are your financial goals from this business?  Spending money?  A full time living?  Wealth to retire early?   Is your goal realistic giving the market, the competition and the available profit?

4.  If you plan to keep doing the hobby aspect while adding a business aspect think about how you will legally and financially handle the situation.

5.  Can you maintain the dispassionate assessment of expenses, opportunity selection, pricing and all of the other things that a business requires when making decisions about an activity you love?   (Think about pilots running airlines).

 
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Offline Kasper

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2022, 06:41:38 am »
I once worked for a guy in his early 20s who was a hobbyist programmer and is now a successfull business owner.

He dropped out of 1st year comp sci, said it was too easy, then started a company in his parents' garage.  Got funding from a friend who wanted a modern (lower cost and portable) version of a piece of equipment he was using.  Joined a local incubator that connected him with angel investors and mentors.  Then hired a part time mechanical engineer and myself.  We made an MVP (minimum viable product).  He is still selling them now and every time we catch up, he tells me they are expanding.
 
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Offline james_s

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2022, 07:18:22 am »
It can, but beware turning your hobby into work. I did some EE as an actual paid job at one point, realized real quick that doing that was ruining my hobby and went back to software.
 
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Offline unknownparticle

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2022, 04:03:39 pm »
I'll echo comments made by others here about the possible downside to turning a hobby into a business.  My experience wasn't in electronics but in automotive. Back in 1999 I discovered the Jap performance car world and bought a Mitsubishi Evo 6. I was blown away by it's performance and capability, it changed my life!  Before that I was all about German cars, just no awareness of the Jap stuff.  Soon I was modifying my Evo and the performance became even more incredible.  Got really into it, engine, suspension, brake and all sorts of mods.  At the time we had a family business in a fairly large industrial unit, so I set up a 2 post lift and workshop facilities so I could work on the Evo more easily.  Then, via conversations on the Evo forum a few other owners asked if i would fit parts to their cars for beer money. Very soon that mushroomed into lots of people asking me to do work as my reputation for quality, conscientious work spread.  Initially it was real fun, loads of people hanging out, bench racing about car stuff, and getting paid quite well, although it meant I had to work evenings and weekends to avoid conflict with the family business. Eventually though it became really hard work and I started to get 'difficult' customers who were very unpleasant to deal with.  I never had time to work on my own car and the workload was relentless, I started to enjoy it less and less.
I had to take the decision to either continue and turn it into a stand alone business with extra people etc, or let it go and only take work from a few carefully chosen customers, actually friends by then.
Thats what I did, and I'm glad I did.  The enjoyment of my own Evo returned and I only took the work I wanted to do, and on my terms.
Long time ago now, still have the Evo and a few very good friends to reminisce  with!
So, I would think carefully about hobbies as a business.
DC coupling is the devils work!!
 

Offline Ice-Tea

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2022, 04:12:52 pm »
Well I was always a "electronics guy" proffesionally but over the years I mixed that a lot with the "for fun" part.

Back in the day, I was playing around a lot with laptops and started a bussiness buying/selling MXM graphics cards. For a while, I was pretty much the only party on the planet that would sell those cards to end users. But the supply deteriorated and that was pretty much it.

A little later I started doing freelance HW design on the side.

For that I needed some T&M gear so I did one or two auctions to get my hands on some second hand stuff to deck out my lab. That resulted in an office with way to much stock and the below eBay shop.

So, now I do freelance HW design, I play around with ungodly amounts of T&M gear and, for some reason, I teach. I honnestly couldn't tell you where the hobby stops and the work begins  ;D
 
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Offline josuah

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2022, 10:39:50 am »
\\                                                                                             //
    Find what you like to do, and do it as much as possible.
                                                      --- Anonymous @JP
 
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Offline jonpaul

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2022, 10:53:43 am »
Bonjour a tous,

As a kid in NYC 1950s, I was fascinated by electronics, HV, neon, and scavenged old TVs, radios, phones.

By 1968 I was an EE, circuits, analog, ADC, audio, medical, avionics. No SW or digital!

Still have a home lab as an old retired guy....so I guess I prove that it is possible.

Jon
Jean-Paul  the Internet Dinosaur
 
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Offline zeke.Topic starter

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2022, 08:50:37 pm »
Thank you all for sharing your stories.
I am a young EE who was never a book smart kid. I was always a handy person and thought electric motors were so cool, loved the technology behind electric drive systems and have a couple years of industry under my belt.
Tired of the cooperate world and looking for confidence to work on something you enjoy without all the cooperate BS.
Thank you all for the confidence boost, I have a lot to learn as an EE and a man....
 

Offline Smokey

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2022, 04:06:25 am »
If turning your hobbies into a business is something you think sounds attractive, then something you should seriously consider doing is ...

... start approaching your hobbies as if they were already businesses. 

Always design as if you are going to make 10,000+ of the thing. (ie, only use parts you can actually buy in distribution, DFM, cost your BOM, etc).

Worst case is it takes a little longer to finish.  Making more than 1 of something in production is a shock that ruins many would be companies who failed to plan for that.  (just look at kickstarter for this carnage)
« Last Edit: November 15, 2022, 04:08:15 am by Smokey »
 
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Offline SiliconWizard

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2022, 07:35:52 pm »
Something to consider: https://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2010/09/21/bad-career-advice-do-what-you-love-and-youll-never-work-a-day/

Many of us here actually have EE as both a hobby and (at least part of) a job, but that requires discipline to make it in the long run.
Work is not play. And even if you start a business rather than become an employee, do not expect to be able to always work on exactly what you want. This isn't how business works.

 
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Offline james_s

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2022, 07:51:02 pm »
Yes, exactly. As soon as something is paid work and has deadlines I can think of a million other projects I'd rather work on at any given time.
 
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Offline josuah

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Offline Kujo

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2023, 11:19:04 am »
Hi,

Bit late to this one but speaking from personal experience if you are going to have a crack at it go 100%.

I kept letting my paid job stop me being able to really build the brand and so my electronics hobby never got beyond hobby.

Can be done for sure but commit.

Kujo
 

Offline nigelwright7557

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2023, 09:31:52 pm »
I used to build amplifier as as hobby.
I decided to sell a few on ebay and it did ok.
Then the Chinese cheapo suppliers hit ebay and it all went wrong.
So  I stopped.

I got into PCB design software and sold a few copies then some kind gentlemen started pretty much giving his away on ebay and that ended that.

I decided to get away from pure software projects and got into model railway software and electronics.
Did ok but too many other people doing it to make much money.

I am semi retired no0w and continue with the model railway stuff but only part time.

The good thing about being employed is the regular income which is above or equal to minimum wage.
Working for myself I make nothing one day then maybe a little the next which is often well under minimum wage per hour.

Working for myself doesnt mean I am my own boss as the customers become my boss making demands.
Working for someone else I found I had to tolerate other workers, some of whom had hidden agenda's
 

Offline Smokey

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2023, 02:12:25 am »
If turning your hobbies into a business is something you think sounds attractive, then something you should seriously consider doing is ...

... start approaching your hobbies as if they were already businesses. 

Always design as if you are going to make 10,000+ of the thing. (ie, only use parts you can actually buy in distribution, DFM, cost your BOM, etc).

Worst case is it takes a little longer to finish.  Making more than 1 of something in production is a shock that ruins many would be companies who failed to plan for that.  (just look at kickstarter for this carnage)

This is a terrible way to make art, if anyone was wondering.

art?  ....  what?!?

I'm not sure if you know where you are, but this is an electrical engineering forum.  I'm fairly confident the OP wasn't talking about trying to sell sculptures made of soldered together resistors in the form of little army men or something..
 

Online vk6zgo

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Offline rfclown

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2023, 03:51:08 am »
Thank you all for sharing your stories.
I am a young EE who was never a book smart kid. I was always a handy person and thought electric motors were so cool, loved the technology behind electric drive systems and have a couple years of industry under my belt.
Tired of the cooperate world and looking for confidence to work on something you enjoy without all the cooperate BS.
Thank you all for the confidence boost, I have a lot to learn as an EE and a man....

I was once a young EE who was tired of what I was doing (after 1.5 years out of school). I was a book smart kid, but unfortunately had "the knack" so was destined to be an engineer for life (not an entrepreneur). The good thing about having an EE day job is that it pays well so you aren't suffering while pondering a different future than you have at the moment. Keep learning and dreaming. Things happen. I've since been at big and small companies. I've learned that I don't multitask well. I don't think I really want to be running my own thing. I like a steady day job. I've had good fortune and faired well. I'm sitting in a room at home with piles of test equipment (paid for by my side ventures) that would allow me to develop whatever I wanted (literally piles: in the room, in closets, in the garage). I get phone calls to do stuff (I'm old now and have experience), and I tell them that I'll only entertain the idea if it is something I can work on at night or on weekends, because I don't need more work. But I keep the options open and keep my name out there... because who knows what might present itself. If you have the knack, you'll always be learning, and maybe something special will come along that will click an change your trajectory. My hobby is my profession because electronics clicked with me at a young age and I thought, "that's what I want to do". I don't know that it was a choice for me.
 

Offline Smokey

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #21 on: February 08, 2023, 06:47:59 am »
...
Always design as if you are going to make 10,000+ of the thing. (ie, only use parts you can actually buy in distribution, DFM, cost your BOM, etc).
...
This is a terrible way to make art, if anyone was wondering.

art?  ....  what?!?

I'm not sure if you know where you are, but this is an electrical engineering forum.  I'm fairly confident the OP wasn't talking about trying to sell sculptures made of soldered together resistors in the form of little army men or something..

Not looking to argue here, but I will say that we probably have different definitions of (and associations with) that word. It can be nearly impossible to do anything creatively fun while also dealing with today's supply chain.

That is true.  It certainly makes it harder and more frustrating.
 

Offline Smokey

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #22 on: February 08, 2023, 06:50:32 am »
Thank you all for sharing your stories.
I am a young EE who was never a book smart kid. I was always a handy person and thought electric motors were so cool, loved the technology behind electric drive systems and have a couple years of industry under my belt.
Tired of the cooperate world and looking for confidence to work on something you enjoy without all the cooperate BS.
Thank you all for the confidence boost, I have a lot to learn as an EE and a man....

I was once a young EE who was tired of what I was doing (after 1.5 years out of school). I was a book smart kid, but unfortunately had "the knack" so was destined to be an engineer for life (not an entrepreneur). The good thing about having an EE day job is that it pays well so you aren't suffering while pondering a different future than you have at the moment. Keep learning and dreaming. Things happen. I've since been at big and small companies. I've learned that I don't multitask well. I don't think I really want to be running my own thing. I like a steady day job. I've had good fortune and faired well. I'm sitting in a room at home with piles of test equipment (paid for by my side ventures) that would allow me to develop whatever I wanted (literally piles: in the room, in closets, in the garage). I get phone calls to do stuff (I'm old now and have experience), and I tell them that I'll only entertain the idea if it is something I can work on at night or on weekends, because I don't need more work. But I keep the options open and keep my name out there... because who knows what might present itself. If you have the knack, you'll always be learning, and maybe something special will come along that will click an change your trajectory. My hobby is my profession because electronics clicked with me at a young age and I thought, "that's what I want to do". I don't know that it was a choice for me.

 

Offline Psi

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #23 on: February 08, 2023, 07:07:33 am »
Yep a hobby can absolutely become a business, some good advice is:
- Keep doing your day job and build it in your spare time
- Try switching your day job to a 4 day week once you can afford it, if they will let you. That extra day is very useful.
- Always keep in mind and minimize how much manual processing work you need to perform to turn goods you source/get made into products that you can ship.
- Don't put off getting china to make small bits and pieces like wiring looms to save you time crimping them yourself. It usually ends up costing the same if you by lots of 200+ as china can get the parts cheaper and that compensates for the labor cost.
- Don't try to optimize your BOM cost to the nth degree from day 1, keep parts simple and easy to get and start selling your product. Once you are selling a good amount then optimize it.
- Sell for no less than 2.5x the cost it takes you to make it. If no one will buy it at this price then you need a different product.
- For any components that have long lead times, when you buy them and they arrive always put a percentage of them in a different box with a note "ORDER MORE NOW"  (alternatively you can use an inventory system but you will forget to order long lead time items unless you have a system to remind you)
- Avoid using ongoing subscription services, like...  Shopify is easy but it has a monthly cost, or you could make a simple HTML/PHP website and use paypal buy buttons or their cart system for free.
- Try avoid making products where the intended customers are the general public. Best to have customers who have a more specialized interest, with a brain.
- Check with your local city/govt about how to start a business and what are the traps. Sometimes you pay tax in advance, so the first year that this kicks in your paying tax twice, for the next year and the current year.  That may not apply to your country, but it's the sort of trap you want to know about before hand.
- Get a proper shipping account or atleast enquire and find the pricing. Its often way cheaper to send direct through DHL/Fedex/UPS instead of taking goods to your local post shop.  And DHL/Fedex will pickup packages.
- Don't lie on value on your export customs invoices for customers, You are taking all the risk and they are getting all the gain.
- Dont mess with mains voltages yourself for your product!!!, source a power brick with all the needed certification already done to ship with your product.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2023, 12:16:35 pm by Psi »
Greek letter 'Psi' (not Pounds per Square Inch)
 

Offline Smokey

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #24 on: February 08, 2023, 08:21:20 am »
What Psi said. 
I would add:
  - Figure out what regulatory hoops you need to jump through (FCC, UL, CE, ECU, etc) and given that cost do you even want to do it. (It gets expensive real quick)
 

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 »
Greek letter 'Psi' (not Pounds per Square Inch)
 

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.
 

Offline 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?
 

Offline 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 »
73 de LB4NH
 

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 »
Greek letter 'Psi' (not Pounds per Square Inch)
 
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Online victorb

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Re: Can a Hobby Become a Business?
« Reply #38 on: June 14, 2024, 08:50:21 pm »
Turning a hobby into a business is definitely possible and can be very rewarding. I’ve always been passionate about agriculture, and recently, I decided to take the plunge and bought a small agricultural business.
 


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