Fun Money

Long Live the Passion

Once your business is up and running, you'll have to strive to keep your love of your hobby alive. Says Jain, "[It's about] constantly pursuing higher knowledge to keep it fresh." Visiting trade shows, conferring with experts and exploring new advances in your hobby can keep that passion burning.

Sara Brook was keeping her love for cooking alive long before the start of her Dessert Gallery Bakery & Cafe in 1995. A veteran entrepreneur, Brook has built three businesses based on her hobby. "Keep it alive so you'll stay great at what you do," she says. "For me, that may have [meant] taking classes, reading or trying new desserts or finding new recipes."

With a degree in computer science, Brook, now 40, decided while in college that baking was her love; she opened her first dessert baking business after graduation at age 21. Six years later, she sold it and created a chocolate sauce manufacturing company. Six years after that, she sold that business to try her hand at an entire bakery and opened the Dessert Gallery Bakery & Cafe in Houston. "Having had two successful businesses before, I felt like this would be the culmination of all I had learned," she says. "I like to think it's my best effort."

Brook's efforts to freshen her concept have included adding some peripheral items to a menu that once included only desserts. "[Those items] were really in response to customer demand. I certainly never dreamed in a million years that I'd have sandwiches and wraps and salads--'real food,' as I call it," says Brook. "It's opened a lot of doors for us because corporate catering is a huge market." With $1 million in sales projected for 2003, Brook's instincts have paid off.

As these entrepreneurs have found, a passion for a hobby can help you start a business. But ultimately, hard work and a willingness to handle the not-so-fun aspects of running a business are what spell success. Done right, your hobby business can provide you with a great living--and an even greater source of joy. "For seven years I've been running the company," says Munoz, "and I am as enthusiastic about it today as I was the day I started."

Not-So-Trivial Pursuits

Stumped about what kind of business your hobby might make? Check out these hobby-type businesses--they'll either work for you as they are, or at least get your creative juices flowing to help you make a decision.

  • ANTIQUE-RADIO COLLECTING:
    If you have a talent and passion for antique radios or record players, you can restore these pieces or sell your services to other less handy collectors.
  • COMPUTERS:
    If you love computers and the Internet, you can sell your services to help people set up their computers. You can even start a Web design business.
  • COOKING:
    Love to cook? Start a catering business. You might also specialize in one food--custom-made cookies or cakes, for instance.
  • EXERCISING:
    If you love to exercise, you could become a certified trainer and sell your services to help others reach their fitness goals.
  • FLOWER ARRANGING OR PRESSING:
    Try pressing flowers into pictures, picture frames, cards, stationery or other gift items to sell.
  • MAGAZINE COLLECTING:
    Do you hoard magazines such as Cosmopolitan? Peddle them on eBay--issues with a famous person on the cover can fetch high bids from fans.
  • PET CARE:
    If you love spending time with animals, open a dog walking business or a cat grooming service. People love pampering their pets but don't always have the time.
  • PHOTOGRAPHY:
    Sell photographs, create and sell greeting cards with your photos or sell your photography.
  • SCRAPBOOKING:
    Love putting memories together? You could sell your scrapbooking skills to others--make money while you preserve their memories.
  • VIDEO GAMES:
    Consider opening a computer gaming arcade, which is similar to an internet cafe, but with games as the main focus, not just the Net.
  • WINE COLLECTING:
    Sell a peripheral product (such as an innovative wine storage system) to other wine connoisseurs.
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This article was originally published in the April 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Fun Money.

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