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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Carberry

Turning what you love into a job

It really is possible for your dream to come true by turning your hobby into an income. Here are two people who did just that.

Simon Stubbs was paddling across a glassy-smooth Tasmanian bay on a sea kayak watching penguins frolicking in the blue below as a sea eagle soared above. Those in the kayaks around him were amazed, thrilled to have communed with nature at such an intimate level. Simon was also enjoying the experience - but actually it was just another day in the office.

“On the great days I have to pinch myself when I realise that this has been my life for 16 years,” says the owner of Freycinet Adventures, a business that offers sea kayaking tours in the Freycinet region and in Hobart. “But there are plenty of serious challenges along the way, too.”

Many dream of turning their hobby into a form of income and even into a career, however few manage to make that fantasy a reality. If you’re truly passionate about something, Simon argues, then you will overcome any problem along the way to success.

“I spent four years in a trade in the field of sheet metal fabrication, then realised I wanted a more enjoyable life,” Simon says. “I became a kayaking tour guide on the Franklin River to learn the business, then started my own company from scratch.”

“It’s not easy, though. We experience enormous seasonality - in one summer day we do the same amount of business as we do in three months of winter. You also need to understand industry networks. You’ll always face financial challenges and, in my line of work, there are even physical challenges. A sore back really doesn’t help.”

Whether you’re keen on opening a B&B, planting a vineyard or starting a cupcakes business, it’s always a good idea to start small in order to learn the ropes, iron out the kinks and research the market. Ditching a full-time job and launching yourself headfirst into the unknown can be a recipe for disaster.

Peita Mages went the right way about it when she started her e-tail business, Having worked as a film publicist for a major corporation she knew that one day she’d have kids. She also knew that the hours she was working were not going to allow her to be a part of their lives. She was always a keen foodie, often attending food markets and putting on dinner parties for friends, so one day she began making products that she might be able to sell at such markets.

Her first creation was a 1950s-style apron that she simply made for herself. Soon friends and family were asking for one of their own. Then Peita took a batch of her aprons to a market stall and sold out in one day.

“After I had my first child I didn’t want to go back to the corporate world so I ramped up the business as much as I could, but then I received an unwelcome surprise,” Peita says. “As the business grew I lost my enjoyment of it. It took a huge amount of my time and I would have had to employ two or three people and become a manager. This wasn’t why I launched the business.”

Smitten still exists but in a form that is far more manageable, selling food-scented candles, aprons and oven mitts online. It still brings in some income, but Peita is also now studying to become a primary school teacher.

“The Smitten business was intended to maximise family time, but you need to realise that as you experience success, a great deal of responsibility comes with that,” she says. “When it’s no longer just a hobby, some of the enjoyment and relaxation can be taken away. So people should have a very good think about what they want and make sure their plans will be supported by business success, not ruined by it. Get it right and you’ll never look back.”


Starting your own business involves a great deal of financial planning. Ensure you seek the right advice by speaking to your Count Financial Adviser, Matthew Carberry on (08) 8120 4877.

This document has been prepared by Count Financial Limited ABN 19 001 974 625, AFSL 227232, (Count) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124. Information in this document is based on current regulatory requirements and laws, which may be subject to change. While care has been taken in the preparation of this document, no liability is accepted by Count, its related entities, agents and employees for any loss arising from reliance on this document. This document contains general advice. It does not take account of your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider talking to a financial adviser before making a financial decision.

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