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What Happened When I Turned My Passion Into A Business

Popular belief says we should ‘do what we love and turn our hobbies into businesses’. However, it’s not always a winning business strategy.

Let me explain.

I picked up running as a hobby with zero ability for the sport at the start. I set myself the goal to run the New York Marathon within 9-months and did it. To date, I’ve run 31 marathons all over the world.

Inspired by my love for running, I launched Running Divas (RD), an online running community for women.

I desperately wanted RD to be my next big business success, so I went all-in. I financed the business with my savings. I hired a business coach to develop a detailed business plan; sought out marketing and PR guidance; built the website—three times over with various updates at huge expense. I sourced 14 Running Divas Ambassadors, employed a full-time Admin Assistant/Business Manager.

Six months in I realised I had the wrong business model.

I sought further professional guidance, updated website (again), and committed more financial resources.

There were red flags everywhere! The biggest one was the incongruence between my Business Manager and myself. She worked hard, but we were constantly butting heads. Slowly she began taking over the business, signing off on things I didn’t agree to, and making decisions without consultation.

I’d also given my Ambassadors permission to use the RD platform to develop their own social followings; which resulted in them growing their respective brands, while I blindly provided the resources.

I was losing money hand over fist.

Running Divas grew to 250,000 members. I worked non-stop, travelled across Australia to attend run events every weekend, and ran 9 marathons in the first year of business for the brand’s PR. I was exhausted, and my social media addiction  drained my soul further.

Everything started to unravel.

When I couldn’t afford my Admin Assistant/Business Manager and subsequently terminated her employment, she started (with several Ambassadors) a very nasty online ‘hate campaign’ against Running Divas and me. The bullying went on for 9-months and took a serious toll on my mental health and wellbeing.

They started their own online run group, used all of my IP, gave it all away for free; and directly contacted my members to stop supporting me.

What did I learn?
1. Don’t give all of you to any project. Leave something for yourself, your family and friends, otherwise you will burnout.

2. Always have a business mindset. Be professional, friendly but keep some distance between you, the team, and customers. Good business practice has solid boundaries.

3. Never let your heart rule over financial sense. Always review the numbers; profit, cashflow—if a business isn’t financially viable, it’s not a business. Keep it as your hobby.