It’s basically the dream, isn’t it? To be able to make a living doing something you would do for fun anyway.
That’s what happened to Grace Sherriff when her hobby became her business, the 30 year old founder of norma&dorothy, created a personalised, hand crafted gift company with its headquarters in Manchester.
These days, there are 16 people working in the business and Grace is still very much hands on in her role as Creative Director.
But norma&dorothy’s bustling and vibrant studio of today is a huge leap from the company’s beginnings. The business began as a hobby with Grace creating greetings cards in her spare time and then beginning to sell these cards.
As time went on and interest in her products increased, it started to generate real income, which led to more and more designs and ultimately to what is now a fully fledged gifts business.
But turning your hobby into a business can have its negative consequences too. What if you stop loving the hobby you were so passionate about for for so much of your life because it starts to feel like “work?” Suddenly finding you no longer feel passionate about the core thing at the centre of your business isn’t just bad news for you personally. I can also impact on the performance of your business and the quality of its output.
So we caught up with Grace and took some advice on how stay passionate about your hobby when it becomes your business. Here are her tips:
Create a culture that represents you
When you start your own business, you’re in the incredibly fortunate position of being able to build a culture and an ethos that represents you and what you stand for. It’s not like starting in a new job somewhere where you’ve been hired potentially on your ability to fit into an existing company culture.
You have a huge role to play in creating the company’s culture and therefore, ultimately, the working environment you will spend so much of your week within.
By thinking about this from day one, you build a workplace that you love to be in and this helps to keep you passionate about what was initially your hobby.
Know your strengths and weaknesses – and hire around it
It’s important to know what you’re good at. Starting a business based on your ability to design and create is amazing. But running a business like that comes with administrative requirements, HR, accounting and all sorts of other things that might not necessarily be things you enjoy or are good at.
It’s important to recognise early on where your strengths lie and to prioritise the roles you’d like to fill based on this. If you’re poor at or simply don’t enjoy managing distribution or customer service, prioritise hires in that area as soon as is feasible for your business.
This will help to keep you spending more of your time on the things you love and are best at. That, in turn, helps to keep you passionate about your business.
Push and challenge yourself
Designing products can be challenging. But coming up with new and fresh designs all the time in a competitive landscape is exciting and challenging.
To stay truly passionate about something that started as a hobby, it’s important to keep improving your skills, to feel like you’re constantly developing and pushing yourself. This helps to keep it interesting.
Boredom can kill passion for anything – for a job, a hobby or a simple task. If you’re constantly challenged, it keeps boredom at bay.