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Careers After 50: Turn Your Hobby into a Business?

Career Change after 50: Options to consider

You’re over 50 and thinking about your after 50 career change options. You have a hobby that you enjoy. The hobby can range from photography to gardening to woodworking to crafts to raising funds for your alumni mater. Regardless of the hobby all require a degree of analysis and study before you attempt to turn it into your next career.

If you have a hobby you enjoy, building it into a profit making business can make all your career dreams come true.

However, as in any business venture or career change after 50 you need to carefully consider a number of important factors before you invest your time and money turning your hobby into a potential going business.

After 50 Career change ideas to research

1. A hobby with no pressure is vastly different from the pressure of business: If you end up making a product, can you still have the passion after doing the same thing one thousand times, or 10,000 times? What about promises to customers? Can you work many long days in a row to satisfy a customer? There will be pressure to pay vendors, quarterly tax estimates, marketing costs and efforts, and finding qualified outsourcing firms. 

Be sure to factor this into you research and carefully consider when you write up your business plan. 

2. Do the numbers work in your favor? Spending 40 hours building one oak rocking chair that will only sell retail for $200 is not going to get the job done. After you work in marketing costs, cost of tools and materials and other overhead you’ll be fortunate to net $100 for a week’s work. Since there are only so many working hours available even if you double your working time and work 80 hours a week you weekly net would only be about $200. 

Clearly you have to search in another direction within your woodworking hobby or other areas of interest to start and build your business. Go to work and come up with other ideas such as: teaching woodworking (personally and by selling videos), selling woodworking related products on the internet, opening a retail store selling well built hand made furniture, selling plans for original woodworking projects, working as a manufacture’s representative selling woodworking related products, and selling woodworking products as an affiliate through a manufacturer or drop shipper. With a little more work I’m sure you can come up with additional business ideas related to your hobby.

Carefully examine each business and career idea. As your research grows you will come up with a business plan that will make your efforts unique in the marketplace or being realistic, discover your hobby cannot become a viable business. 

3. Be realistic about time, space and financial requirements: If working out of your home do you have the required space. Do you need to store product or inventory?  

For every hour spent doing the actual work consider another hour doing administrative, tax, marketing, planning and working with customers.

You can outsource some of these functions, but be aware of the added costs and the developing and setting up of appropriate systems.  

4. Research the competition: Is there a market for your products or services? Who are competing with? Local, regional or national?  Large firms small firms?  

How will you set yourself apart from your competition?

5. Carefully consider local zoning, taxes and other regulations: This means setting up a separate business checking account. If appropriate get a federal employer identification number. Set up your business so it’s easy to scale up as it grows. 

What are the local zoning requirements if you work out of your home? Know your tax reporting requirements. How will you set up the business, sole-proprietor, LLC, corporation all need to be studied.    

6. Who are your customers? How are you going to reach them? Is there a demand for your products or services? Where are your customers? What demand are you going to satisfy?  

What methods of marketing and avenues of selling your products or services are you going to use? Will it be effective and flexible to meet changes in the marketplace?

7. Are you comfortable with the non-hobby aspects of the business? At least in starting out you’ll be required to handle the administrative aspect of the business. Taxes, accounting, marketing, customer service, analysis of costs and expenses all will be necessary for you to understand and manage the business. If you use the internet how will you develop a paying presence with your web site?  

It is the systems that you put in place will determine if your hobby becomes a sustainable business and a new exciting career.

8. Carefully consider alternatives: In turning your hobby into a new career after 50 there are a several alternatives to consider.  

You can start the business part-time while still employed. You’ll learn about demand for your product or service, pricing, costs and levels of profit. In addition, you’ll get a better picture of possible profits as the business grows.

If currently unemployed, after some preliminary research that gives you a tentative green light, starting to develop some additional income from the hobby has little risk. The aspect that you have to be careful about is to continue you job hunt at your previous full-time level. Otherwise, you’ll be trying to run a start-up struggling business along with a weak job hunting effort. Thus you could have lack of success in both areas-not a pleasant outcome. 

New career after 50: Self-employed?  

Turning a hobby or area of interest can be a viable option in changing careers after 50. Do your homework, study areas that you may be weak in, be realistic about possible outcomes, and if the answer is “no,” don’t give up and keep looking and you’ll find a way. At the very least all of this study and research, even with a negative final decision, will make you more comfortable when you find the right job in your long held career.  

Learn how Mike moved from a manager of a number of quick lube shops to self-employed. He was stuck but continued to search until he found the right formula to start a new career after 50 running his own business. 

For more about considering self-employment issues in changing careers go to an additional article on changing careers after 50.

 

 

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