There are many rewards associated with turning a hobby or passion into a business. One of the biggest is being able to fully leverage one’s strengths and interests on an everyday basis.
Ron Greene, executive vice president of Gumbiner Savett Inc., has successfully incorporated his passion for food and wine into the accounting sector. By establishing relationships with those in the food and wine industry, he’s developed a number of business relationships. Networking, he explains, plays an important role in the process of converting a passion into a profit.
“Networking provides me with opportunities to expand my knowledge and experience base and demonstrate it to others,” he says.
Smart Business spoke with Greene about turning a passion into a business, potential hurdles that must be overcome and the advantages of having a true passion for one’s work.
How should a person go about converting a passion into a business?
Businesses already exist with respect to most people’s passions. For example, if you have a passion for sports, music, theater, travel, shopping or reading any kind of activity that you are passionate about all of these are already businesses. It’s a matter of seeking out the right types of people, making them aware of you and your passion and becoming aware of what they can do for you.
What I have found is that establishing relationships outside of the business context is valuable. Relationships established by letting people get to know about you, your skills and passions, and your interest in their field of endeavor are important. When an opportunity arises, they know you’re passionate about their fields of endeavor, and they believe you can bring help, guidance or skills to the table.
What factors should be considered when determining if one’s hobby or passion has potential as a business?
Not all passions have business potential. Many business areas are already saturated with wannabes as well as with skillful businesspeople. If you have a passion for something you have to consider what stage of life you’re at and whether it’s appropriate at this point in time to try and enter the arena of your passion. Some of the factors that should be considered include current family and other commitments and obligations that you might have, and whether you have the financial resources and staying power to get involved with something where you may have to pay your dues before you can succeed.
What are some potential hurdles that might be faced when attempting to turn a passion into a business?
Just because you are passionate about something doesn’t mean that you have the right skill sets to play in the ballpark of your passions. The big hurdle might be learning what you need to know. If you love food and wine like I do, you might say, ‘Hey, I want to be a winemaker.’ But what do you know about the chemistry of making wine? You have to obtain that knowledge, get those skills and learn from others. Gaining acceptance can be very difficult because in most areas of commerce people already know who the experts are and who they want to do business with. You’re the outsider looking in, and it may take quite a while to establish yourself and get people to accept and trust you.
What are the advantages of having a true passion for one’s work?
If you have a true passion for your work, almost nothing is going to get in the way. You can overcome the obstacles you’re going to face because you know that this is what you want to do and you’re going to stay on the chosen path. Having a passion for your work keeps you focused and helps you become successful because you love what you are doing. Defeats become opportunities.
What types of opportunities are available?
The world is your oyster if you want it. Especially if you have succeeded at earlier endeavors, you just have to be willing to take a step back, take a step down and apprentice yourself to the industry or business that embodies your passion. As long as you keep learning and growing you will be fine. The opportunities are there for people willing to think outside the box. If you take a concept that builds on your passion and are able to grow it into something new, you have the opportunity to be successful. I know many people who have successfully pursued their passions. As we say in the wine world, ‘Cheers.’
RON GREENE is executive vice president of Gumbiner Savett Inc. Reach him at (310) 828-9798 or firstname.lastname@example.org.