Turning Your Hobby into a Business with Mike Ionita

We’ve all developed some new hobbies since the start of the pandemic: knitting, baking, ceramics — the list goes on. If you’ve fallen into a hobby that you feel passionate about, you may have considered turning it into a business. As the Creative Director and Founder of Crux Video Game Design, Mike Ionita knows exactly what that feels like. Mike Ionita has had a passion for animation for as long as he can remember and took the leap from ‘side hustle’ to business when he started his company several years ago. If you want to explore the expansion of your hobby into a business, Mike Ionita is sharing all of his best advice on how to do it successfully.

A 2017 survey found that approximately half of all Millennials had some type of ‘side hustle’. Depending on the gig, you may want to consider whether adapting a ‘for-profit’ model is a good fit for you. The pressure of meeting financial goals, adhering to a schedule, and producing a certain quota can take the joy out of something you once loved; the fun, relaxation, and personal enjoyment may no longer be present. Mike Ionita suggests considering why you want to turn this hobby into a business. If it connects to a larger purpose, there is a good chance you’re in it for the long haul.

Set a Goal and Do Your Research

If you’re not sure about setting up a business, ask yourself what the goal might look like. Do you want to do this full-time? Part-time? Make some extra money? Setting a goal can help you ensure that you’re setting realistic expectations for your potential business. As hobbies are often driven by passion, you need to do your research to determine whether your product/service has a viable target demographic. Mike Ionita explains that doing a bit of market research, whether it is through surveys, existing data, or looking at potential competitors, will help you ensure that your business isn’t just appealing to you. You can even set up a landing page and take pre-orders to try and understand the potential demand.

Identify a Business Model and Create a Business Plan

Mike Ionita explains that this is the most important step in identifying the feasibility of your business. How much is your product/service going to cost you to produce? How much will you sell it for? How much is your customer willing to pay? Answering these questions will help you identify whether your side gig is capable of supporting you financially, and what variables may impact it’s sustainability. You will also want to consider where you will sell it. Etsy? Amazon? Upwork? Your own website? When you write your business plan, you will want to consider everything from income projections to a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. Creating a plan will act as a blueprint for your business moving forward.

Marketing & Sales

Lastly, you’re going to want to employ various marketing techniques to ensure that your product/service gets in front of your target demographic. What platforms does your target demographic use? How can you make your product/call to action visually appealing? This might mean learning photography, social media algorithms, and ensuring brand integration across all platforms. Building a loyal audience requires constant effort, adjustment, and contact. It may take some time to find a formula that works best for you, but when a side hustle turns into a viable business, Mike Ionita explains that it will be worth it.

Founder of Crux Game Design | Vancouver, BC |