Friday, June 3, 2011

Hobbyist Vs. Professionals.

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An AMAZING article by NeatThings Enjoy...

There is a world of difference between the business hobbyists and the business professional. First of all, a lot of talented hobbyists think they’re professionals, but they can’t manage to twist their brain enough to think like the master of an empire. They think too small, too passively, and too emotionally to build an empire. They can’t detatch their hearts from their heads. They fumble along in Guessland instead of playing with numbers (they often hate numbers) and operating like a business. So, they may be doomed to always having a hobby instead of a leave-the-day-job business.

All is not lost. They can either outsource some things — like marketing and planning — or they can learn to think like professionals instead of artists/hobbyists. They can let someone else do the work they can’t, or they can figure out how to do it themselves with the right frame of mind.

Most people will have some hobbyist and some professional in them. I know I do because sometimes I would rather goof off than write a plan, but I'm also a classic Type A. There is nothing wrong with being a hobbyist - especially if you like your day job and have no designs on turning your hobby into an enterprise.

But if you're not satisfied with the status quo, understanding and rectifying these 8 differences in the way the hobbyist and the professional think may help you. 

I’ve observed these traits through my own experience and that of others. I don’t claim to have any kind of an empire, but I’ve spent a great deal of time with people who do. And I know that any gifted hobbyist who can twist his mind to think like a professional has the capacity to conquer the world.

1.Hobbyists blame others, professionals blame themselves.

It’s fun to blame someone else for your troubles, isn’t it? Because, let’s face it, the problems you’re having in life can’t possibly be your fault. If you’re overweight, it’s your genes. If you hate your job, it’s the company’s fault. And if your products aren’t moving? Well? It’s the economy. A vendor’s policies. The wind blowing from the east. A quite tempting prospect for someone who lacks the confidence and skill it takes to build an empire. And a fine scapegoat, too.

But the successful executives, C-levels, and entrepreneurs of the world didn’t get to the top by blaming someone else for their troubles. By balking at a glass ceiling. By criticizing bosses behind their backs. Instead, they see every obstacle as an opportunity. When they run into a wall, they don’t curse the wall. They don’t scream at the guy who built the wall, the entity that approved the structure, or the blasted wind that isn’t blowing strong enough to take it down.

They find a way to work with it or to work around it. Nobody ever built an empire by complaining about someone else’s failings. You only build empires by taking responsibility for everything that happens to your business and finding clever ways around the walls that doesn’t involve pointing fingers, crying, or failing to recognize your contribution to your situation.

2.Hobbyists complain, professionals act.

It happens all the time. A group of so-called business owners get together to not only blame someone else for their troubles, but to complain about it too. To lawyers, to associations, to anyone who doesn’t have the wherewithall to ignore them or tell them to sod off. Belaboring moot points. And those wolves feed on each other like cannibals until, in the end, nothing is left but a few canine carcasses and the buzzards flying overhead. 

Meanwhile, the professionals of the world are taking action. In a sore economy, the CEO of Ford (Alan Mulally) developed the right people to oversee product development, marketing, and finance to help the company build products people actually wanted to buy, find the people who wanted to buy them, and cut costs at the same time to make them profitable last quarter. 

If you do not want to build an empire, I encourage you to play with the carnivorous wolves. Spend as much time with them as it takes to whine and moan and slap your hand on your forehead to proclaim “Alas! Woe is me!”. But those who spend their time changing the way they do business, building new products, cutting costs, and finding new markets are the ones who will still be standing when the wolves are nothing but a pulpy mass of smelly goo.

3.Hobbyists guess, professionals crunch.

“Well…” they seem to think… “I guess I, a single person who in no way consitutes a reasonable sample size, would pay $20 for this bloofit. So I’ll price it at $20. If it doesn’t sell, I’ll lower the price.” Nevermind that it cost her $28 to conceptualize, create, build, and market it. And, “Hm. I’m not sure who my market is but I think it’s women between 20 and 60 who like jewelry.” Nevermind that she just described most women alive today.

People who lack confidence in themselves and their business often operate this way. They have great artistic talent and they so want to succeed, but they think like the uninitiated who make decisions based more on emotion than logic. They guess using unproven and highly flawed methods that have little or no basis in reality. And, my friends, that’s no way to run a business. 

The professionals, however, don’t suppose. 

They come as close to knowing as possible. The analyze the data. They have sophisticated spreadsheets and formulas to help them calculate costs and figure out how set prices so their profitability is comfortable. They narrow their market based on a broad set of criteria so they can say, “One target market is women between 25 and 35 who are college educated, have higher than average incomes, and spend time playing foosball with their overabundance of male friends.” 

They do not operate in vagueness but in near-certainties. They crunch numbers and make logical (not emotional) decisions based on the results. They act and react in ways that are designed to grow business, not their egos.

4.Hobbyists get attached, professionals remain aloof.

Artists and hobbyists alike really love the work they do. They are passionate and excited and they care, oh how they care, about each little bloofit they create. 

Professionals may care, but they don’t become too emotionally attached to a given product. If a product or product line isn’t moving, no matter how variably it’s marketed or how low the price, the hobbyist will cling to it hoping against sense that someone someday will love it as much as they do. 

Professionals don’t. They set rules in advance to determine at what point a product — no matter how much they love it or how much faith they had in it — will be discontinued or rebranded or remarketed so it’s no longer an unprofitable cost center. They don’t allow themselves to become TOO attached for fear that their passion will interfere with their ability to survive as a business. 

5.Hobbyists flow, professionals plan.

“Hm. I think I’ll try to run an ad this month and see what happens.” This is the way hobbyists think. It’s one of the things their friends love about them. They’re laid back. They go with the flow. If their friends want to have Thai for dinner, they won’t mind going even though they’d probably rather have Ethiopian.

Professionals don’t — and probably can’t — think that way. With their Type A personalities, they’re all Monica Geller all the time. They plan and plan and decide and prepare and have contingency plans and know what they’re going to do no matter what obstacles might befall them. They have business plans and marketing plans and product development plans and financial plans. They sometimes even plan to plan, making outlines and schedules and tables and charts. They don’t pussyfoot around when it comes to being prepared.

Failing to plan, in the long run, really is planning to fail. Even if you change your plans along the way, having them in the first place gives you direction and helps you focus your attention where it’s most profitable. Instead of getting derailed by some tangent.

6.Hobbyists hope, professionals expect.

Anyone going into business for themselves is hopeful that it will survive. They want, they might pray, they ask others to wish them well. But those who really excel go one stop further. Professionals fully expect to succeed. They don’t think, “I really hope I do well.” Instead they think, “I’m going to do well and this is how and why and when.” They crunch the numbers and plan and leave emotion out of it and this propensity launches them into a state of expectation rather than hope. 

Expectation is far more active than hope, which is quite passive. Expectation forces a person to act and take responsibility, where hope leaves it to the fates. Expectation is positive and even aggressive where hope stands still and waits. Hope might get you what you want, but expectation involves you in your own outcomes and offers a far more likely-to-succeed alternative to hope.

7.Hobbyists are cautious, professionals are risk-takers.

When in doubt, hobbyists stand still. They might ask some questions of other hobbyists. They might read a few articles. But all in all, they are afraid to take swift action. It ties to their general hippiesque go-with-the-flow way about the world. “What’s meant to be will be and if I’m not sure, I’m going to do nothing.”

Professionals, on the other hand, act. They trust their instincts even if their instincts go against conventional wisdom. They’re willing to spend money on risk. They gamble. They aren’t afraid to make mistakes because they know if they screw up, they’ll be able to find a way to fix it. They have confidence. They are assertive, even aggressive. They take action even if they aren’t certain that action is going to lead to positive results. 

A hobbyist will limit how much money they spend on marketing and advertising, for instance. They don’t know a lot about it, so they’re afraid of screwing it up. The professional doesn’t care about screwing up. He knows that screwing up just means learning. Learning what not to do. Learning how to do it better next time. Learning one more step toward success.

8.Hobbyists think small, professionals think big.

Hobbyists intrinsically limit themselves. They think in terms of how one little vendor (Etsy, for instance) has a lot of power over their business. They worry a lot about how whatever that vendor is doing. They believe that vendor defines that businesses success or failure.

Professionals can’t be bothered. They observe what a given vendor is doing and may take some action, but they recognize that they are not the captors of the professionial’s business. They know they have limited choices and make decisions accordingly. If that vendor isn’t working for them anymore, they don’t take him out back, beat him with a tire iron, and break his kneecaps. They just find a new vendor. They think bigger than a single vendor. Bigger than a single marketing source. Bigger than the small time. 

Professionals realize the world is their oyster and no single vendor, marketing source, or buyer is going to prevent them from building an empire. Their empires exist independently. Everything else is just a tool of world domination.

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