Is my glass fusing a hobby or a business? How do I know? In the past, I was told how much money I made would dictate the answer. If you started making over a certain dollar amount a year, then it is a business. So I was avidly trying to figure the logistics out of becoming a business. The more I read about becoming a business on the internet, the more confused I became on the whole deal.
I then discovered an organization called SCORE (http://www.score.org/) which is a national organization to help people like me better understand starting a business. So I visited my local SCORE office and had a great talk with the person at the desk (so sorry I didn’t get a name as he was so helpful!). I explained my passion for making glass and then deciding that I should try to sell it as well and was now I am selling my pieces online through my Etsy store. He asked me whether I was making a profit and I had to disclose that no – I still buy a lot more materials and tools than I bring in from sales but for now my focus was to figure out the right pieces to make, learn and explore all there is about glass fusing. Then when I do make a sale on Etsy, I celebrate. Internally of course, no money spent on such celebrations!
He looked me straight in the eye, and said, “You are definitely not a business; you are still a hobby.” He said when I could very quickly answer that my goal was to make money and operated under that regimen, putting as much effort into marketing, selling, bookkeeping and so forth as making my product, then I would be a business. Being a business has many requirements and one critical requirement is to have a realistic goal to make a profit within three years.
Storytime – Many years ago, when my husband and I worked for Hewlett-Packard, the CEO was retiring because at that time, all HP executives were required to retire at age 62. Anyway, he was explaining that he had bought a winery in Napa and was looking forward to learning about a completely different kind of business. And then he said, “I hope I don’t ruin a perfectly good hobby.” My husband and I have always remembered this. And we are hesitant to make my goal to make money rather than enjoy a “perfectly good hobby.”
So while ultimately I need to find a way to make money on my hobby as it can’t stay a sinkhole for long, for now I plan to enjoy my exploration and learn as much as I can both about glass fusing and running a business. And then perhaps later, the goal will migrate to become a business making a profit!