There’s a new work reality for many of us of working age and that is to parlay our passions into money-making ventures, often in conjunction with a main job; or, as a way to take the pace out of previously hectic lives.
A study released on Tuesday by Britain Thinks and Investec Click & Invest suggests that there is a very definite social trend for this kind of career reset with many of us taking hobbies a step up and turning them into income generators.
Chances are you’ll know of someone who is already fulfilling their dream of a life fantastic. If you live in a City, considering whether or not you can make a go of doing something else is often part of the daily commute.
When you're wending your way home after a long day, on a crowded tube or train wedged under someone’s arm pit, dreams come fast and furious.
Many are now taking the plunge and turning those dreams into realities. Judging their success not solely by a level of income, although it is a key consideration, but also by how happy they feel.
Going to make a change: the new career paradigm
According to the report, around one third of the British population have chosen to reset their career and a further 32% are considering making a change within the next five years that will lead to a rewarding career, involve setting up a business or turning a hobby into a profit-making venture.
There are a number of factors that are sparking this change but certainly, shifting work patterns and the increasing gig economy are key motivators.
It means that many of us are willing to explore making a change. We are no longer wedded to the idea that a) you only have one job and b) that it has to be for someone else.
There is a reason for this and Viki Cooke, founding partner of Britain Thinks, points to stronger 'can-do' attitudes and renewed confidence in our abilities to control our lives.
Cooke said: “Our research identifies that across the population there is a move towards empowerment as people recognise that in a world of increasing uncertainty, they need to take control of their lives and ‘reset’. This has implications for work and careers, lifestyle and financial planning. We see this as a societal trend which is set to continue.”
Who are the brave souls?
There is no age limit to those who choose to reset. Millennials have been exhibiting this change as many have turned social media and technology into a new frontier but increasingly more over 50s are also pushing through new barriers.
There are lots of examples of in the digital sphere with businesses like Digital Mums founded by Nikki Cochrane and Kathryn Tyler, which aims to retrain mothers in social media skills in order to achieve the work/accomodating life balance.
Now over 50s who have already had a career and a lifestyle change at least once, are becoming just as likely to have yet another reset. Generally these folks are looking for a similar balance but with the emphasis squarely on life.
As part of the report's analysis a poll conducted post the snap general election revealed that 30% of existing ‘resetters’ have created businesses. Another 22% are using their hobbies to generate an income - a new group of entrepreneurs the report calls ‘Hobbypreneurs’.
More people are also changing careers to do something more rewarding and have become more focused about financial planning and investments than the population as a whole.
Moving from hobby to fully fledged business
Jonathan Parke, is old enough to not consider Facebook as something he grew up with, but he and his partner Annette Frere have taken their passion for riding motorbikes and turned it into a comfortable and self-sustaining online business called Rugged Roads and, yes, they use Facebook.
Like many of those turning their hobbies into business, it's often because they find they can fill a need.
Parke says the business began when they often couldn't find parts for their bikes so they would make them. It wasn't long before other friends would ask if they could have the same and the business grew from there.
Rugged Roads, which is ran by Frere and another partner, is a global specialist company that manufacturers and supplies parts for a specific range of bikes such as the Honda Africa Twin, Yamaha, KTM and BMW.
In addition, the company is as a one-stop shop stocking premium brands on everything you can put on your bike from top to exhaust. About 60% of their business is from overseas custom.
Making creative pursuits pay
Karen Roberts sews, has done it all her life, and it's something she enjoys. She is also the owner of NeatPleats, a bespoke curtain-making company in rural Shropshire. She turned her hobby into a sideline again out of necessity.
Her previous job as a cook at a local restaurant meant a change to her work hours from day time to evening. Robert's husband is a farmer and he works long hours sometimes late into the night and the new timetable could not accomodate their child care needs.
So Roberts decided to look to her other skills to generate a bit of income to supplement what comes in from the farm. She started her business making handmade curtains in 2011.
A primary driver for people like Roberts and Parke is the ability to have their businesses fit around their life rather than vice versa.
Flexibility and balance is the key
For Robert's her business needs to be flexible because her husband is a farmer. She has always made sure that her work fits around the busiest times during lambing and harvest.
From the start Roberts thought about how her business would work around the family and the farm.
She says, "I always tell my clients if we are about to be busy that they might have to wait but they are usually understanding, after all I'm offering a bespoke service and I strive for high quality and that takes time!"
Parke has similar flexibility. He retains his day job with a telecoms company and currently doesn't see any reason to cut off a revenue stream. It suits him at this point to keep both gigs going.
His day jobs allows him to work from home and his wife and their business partner run the day-to-day operations. Their warehouse is also only a minute away from home.
From industrial chemistry to upholstery
Anita Lewis is a former industrial chemist from South Africa who moved to live in the countryside on the border of Wales and England.
Although the move hampered career opportunities, it meant she could find more leisurely activities that she enjoyed to occupy her time.
Lewis took up woodwork and upholstery, attending classes for a couple of years in the latter. Her hobby only became an idea for a business when the South African rand fell.
Lewis recounts: "I turned to having a business because all of our income was coming from South Africa but the rand went pear-shaped and our living was quartered so as a way of making a bit of money I started to do upholstery for friends and it blossomed from there."
Lewis says that upholstery was ideal for her because she wanted to work from home, liked working with her hands and she enjoyed meeting people.
She says she knew she wouldn't make a living solely out of upholstery because she "didn't dedicate herself to making it into a full business". However, she made enough to help her to defray household expenses and provided a bit of pocket money.
Lewis like Roberts and Parke found flexbility to be an essential requirement and her gig provided that.
Her trade off is that she can spend as much or as little time because she enjoys travelling half the year and has other interests she wants to pursue. The beauty of doing upholstery she says is planning when you want to do it.
New model entrepreneurs rely on networks
Another interesting theme that all three highlight is how well a hobby lends itself to building a natural market. For example, Parke notes that as a biker he is always able to place himself as a customer.
Rugged Roads only caters for a number of brands and is highly specialised. They have built up their business over the past decade and have a signifcant turnover using the power of social media and the natural forums that crop up with motorcycling.
Because they keep the focus tight, the company can set itself apart because as Jonathan describes: "We provide products for specific bikes and we know our products very very well."
He specialises in the Honda Africa Twin and he says he can go on ad nauseam with others who share his enthusiasm. He likes nothing better than chatting to customers and learns about their adventures.
Specialism and word of mouth seems to help build up hobby businesses into something sustainable. Roberts and Lewis have both found their businesses grew through word of mouth, with customers recommending others. There is no great expenditure on marketing outside of the natural growth of doing something they love.
The passion that they have will continue to drive the business, but what happens if it doesn't?
Parke says: "We’ve kept our focus and are in a position to do something that is fun. So if it stops being fun we’ll pull the plug. It’s slow and steady growth. It’s working very well for us, but we can exit easily. Would we do anything differently? Probably not."
This is a hobby that Lewis sees as working well for her now particulary as she is doing less upholstery and for the past eight years focussing more on teaching locally and at a Craft College.
Roberts also teaches and says: "I love the teaching side of the business it gives me a lot of satisfaction seeing the progress of the students and it gets me out of the workroom for a few hours."
For Lewis this is perfect right now too: "I am happy to teach and pass on what I think is a dying trade to keep it going. The way I am living now and teaching suits me fine."
Jonathan has important advice, however, for those who fancy a run at turning their hobby in to a business. He says ensure the business is self financing because if it's not ask yourself the fundamental question: why are you doing it?"
Lewis thinks in hindsight that if she were younger she would go for City and Guilds qualifications and become more organised with her paperwork.
Roberts says the only things she would change would be to have done it sooner and been more confident in her abilities. Also to have made her workroom in the biggest room in the house as space is always needed.
Roberts' sums up essential steps to reset and take back control for those of us wanting to take the plunge.
"Anyone hoping to do the same and make a hobby into a business, take care of the paperwork, make sure that you value your work and charge enough for your time and enjoy what you do."