In 2002, eight-time British Surf Champion Johnny Wallbridge turned his passion into a business when he founded Yakwax, a surf shop based in the board sport haven of Guernsey. Read on to find out exactly how he started a profitable business around his hobby.
Since I founded Yakwax in 2002, I’ve been able to count myself among the lucky few who’ve made a business out of their passion. While running a company isn’t always fun and games, being at the heart of Guernsey’s surf scene and helping to grow the sport I’m so passionate about is an incredibly fulfilling experience. For anyone else wanting to make the leap and start making their living from their passion, here’s my advice.
If something truly is your passion, then you’ll no doubt be intimate with the wants and needs of the subculture surrounding it, both in your local area and perhaps even online. If you’re aware that people within the community don’t have access to something they want or need and you know that they’d pay good money to have it, then this gap in the market can be your perfect entryway into making money through your hobby.
In our case, we were passionate members of the Guernsey board sport scene ourselves, and could sense a growing frustration among our peers that there wasn’t anywhere on the island they could go to get the top-quality clothes and equipment that fit the needs of someone who’s serious about the sport.
If you’re thinking of setting up a business around your passion, then pay close attention to the itches that people who share that passion need scratching, as well as thinking carefully about your own. If you can fulfil your target audience’s genuine needs, then you’re almost certain to succeed with your business. Founding a company around an existing passion can often be easier than doing so in a sector you’re totally unfamiliar with.
If you’re anything like us when we set up shop and don’t have any previous experience as a business owner, I’ll warn you now that the early days of your business aren’t going to be without their problems. For example, stock control and managing our finances were completely new to us, and we found they had an unexpectedly steep learning curve. There’s some things you can only learn through experience, so it’s important at the start of your venture to accept that mistakes are going to be made, while also making sure to learn as much as you can from people who’ve been there and done it all before.
Ultimately, if you’re hoping to turn your passion into a living, it’s going to be so much easier to succeed if it’s already the centre point of your life. If this is the case, the transition to thinking about it full-time is likely to be a welcome leap, and you’ll also be on exactly the same wavelength as your customer base.
However, this isn’t to say that opening your own business is going to be easy, and you’re certainly going to be thrown into the deep end if you don’t have any prior experience as a business owner. In our experience, if you’re truly passionate about whatever you’re building your business around, learning the skills you need to be successful will be a pleasure, as the rewards are totally worth it.
Keep these tips in mind if you’re looking to turn your passion into a business and you’ll have the best chance of success.