When it comes to the hobbies we do in our spare time, we never expect anything, besides our pure satisfaction, to come out of it. However, there are some instances in which these hobbies end up making millions and inspiring others to start their own businesses. These business owners did not expect the million-dollar result that came out of the thing they loved to do in their spare time. Although you have the satisfaction of being able to do what you love, there are downsides to running your own business. Not only are you your own boss, but you have to keep your staff and day-to-day operation in mind in everything you decide to do. Taking a vacation may not be as easy as putting in for PTO, neither is calling in sick. You have to plan accordingly or maybe there is no room for vacations at all.
In the current era, turning your hobby into a successful business can be easier than expected if you have the correct business plan and investors. With the amount of attention that is required to start and maintain your own business, it may not be something that everybody is good at or even something that interests them. While thinking of transitioning your hobby to a million-dollar idea, you must make sure to have the correct investors, exposure, and image. Without the proper components, running a business will be harder than you may think, though not impossible. With the access to those tools and social media that we know, if you have the right focus, your hobby could become one of the million-dollar businesses that are on this list.
24 Two Men and a truck
Everyone in the nation has to change locations at least once in their life, and this company is there to help you with all of your moving needs. Two Men and a Truck is a moving company founded by brothers Brig and Jon Sorber in the early 1980s. The idea started as helping out friends and family moving using their mother’s, Mary Ellen Sheets, van to earn some extra cash during the summer and winter breaks from college. However, they are now one of the most well-known moving companies across the nation and all thanks to their mother. Sheets drew up the logo and was the mediator in setting up the appointments.
When Sara Blakely started cutting pantyhose in her kitchen, she did not think she would be coming up with a billion-dollar business idea. She was simply trying to make sure she and her friends looked good if they wore form-fitting clothing. Spanx grew into a successful undergarment brand without advertising — Blakely thought it was better to spread the news of her business through word of mouth. They created their individuality with not only their new product, but with memorable packaging as well. When the brand was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey on television, brand awareness and sales climbed. The brand did not grow exponentially until 2003 despite getting its start in 1998.
Although you may think Legos are the only toy construction company around, you should not count out K’Nex. This toy company was founded in 1992 by Joel Glickman while working for his parents' company The Rodon Group. The idea sparked while he was at a wedding, realizing being social was not his speciality. He found himself building things with the napkins instead of socializing with the guests. Since then, the idea to come out with plastic building toys sparked and has grown to become one of the highest-ranking toy construction brands.
21 Budget Electronics
With the technology world improving and shocking us more and more everyday, Budget Electronics has been able to become a million-dollar business. This electronics company sells wholesale gadgets and cell phones based out of Canada. This million-dollar company was founded in 2009 to make it easier to purchase electronics in this digital age. This business started when Nadia Shuaib was supporting her husband, Jawad Shuaib, and his hobby of selling electronics out of their house. The couple have grown their business to now operate out of two warehouses and ship worldwide.
Craigslist is one of the largest sellers on the web and it started out with an email to about a dozen people from their friend Craig Newmark. When he sent out that first email, it was just a listing of two different events inviting people to attend and show of support. After that email was sent and successful, the rest was history and Craigslist has now spread to over 700 countries and is now used for more than posting about upcoming events. When Newmark realized how big the Internet was going to be after his stint with IBM and Schwab, he started Craigslist in 1995 and it has been up and running ever since.
19 Three Birds Nest
Everyone loves clothes and more importantly, everyone loves custom-made fashionable clothes at a decent price. Well look no further because you can get what you need from Three Birds Nest. This fashion company was started in the kitchen of the mother of three, Alicia Shaffer. She took her passion for textures and styles and began making her own bohemian products in her kitchen. Although at first you could only find her designs on Etsy and by word of mouth, she has now branched out to other online sources.
18 Yankee Candle
If you are a candle lover, or even if you aren’t, you have either heard of or seen the Yankee Candle brand. Yankee Candles are sold in hundreds of chains around the world. Despite them now being a billion-dollar company, they started out as a gift from creator Michael Kittredge to his mother. He made his first scented candle out of melted crayons for a Christmas present in 1969. Since then, the empire has grown to be one of the most widely-known candle brands produced in the country.
17 Bubba's-Q Boneless Ribs
If you are a fan of the show Shark Tank then you may have caught this brand getting the deal that helped turn them into a million-dollar business. Bubba’s-Q Boneless Ribs have now been marketed worldwide and they are now making more than $3 million in revenue a year. If you do not have access to one of their locations, they also accept orders online. In 2013, this company was started by former NFL player Al “Bubba” Baker, but it wasn’t until Shark Tank that his cooking hobby made him millions.
16 Rent the Runway
When you have to wear a dress for any occasion, sometimes you just need to wear it once and you will never need to wear it again. Well that problem has been solved by two women, Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss, when they decided to begin renting out designer dresses. If you have an event that requires that extra special touch but you don’t have them often, this online store is the perfect match. They not only have the resources to rent dresses, but they also rent handbags and accessories. This has become a profitable business because not only does it offer its customers a chance to be a princess without the price of one, but they also offer a chance for the designer to expand their customer base.
15 Darn Good Yarn
Crafting something from scratch can sometimes be expensive and may turn people off from wanting to pick up that hobby. However, that was not the case with Darn Good Yarn founder Nicole Snow. Since she was a child, she found that crafting was her escape and she wanted to help other people find their peace as well. After finally saving enough to start her own company, she began Darn Good Yarn where they offer not only yarn and knitting needles, but also patterns and links to crochet websites. This business began as a way to stay calm and it ended up becoming a million-dollar company.
14 The Game Crafter
Gaming has been becoming one of the more popular ways to pass the time, especially with the vast advancements of technology. The Game Crafter was founded by JT Smith, Tavis Parker, and Jamie Vrbsky in 2009. They became the first web-to-print game company and have found much success because of their specific niche. Since their creation, they have inspired other gaming brands to do the same. When the three men founded this gaming company, they wanted to bring the same joy they get from gaming to everyone whether you want to play on the web or on a board.
13 West Point Thoroughbreds
You may think horses are for rich people and not the thing that makes people rich. Well this man, Terry Finley, found a way to not only do what he loves which taking care of horses, but also to make millions from doing so. West Point Thoroughbreds is a company that allows you to purchase thoroughbreds for racing and they also allow you to partner with them to sponsor other horses. This company also hosts retreats and courses for those who only want to enjoy the horses on a noncompetitive level. They employ jockeys, veterinarians, blacksmiths, and trainers, everyone you may need to make this experience more enjoyable. This entire company sparked from Finley’s love of horses and a connection his father had with a breeder.
12 Sew What?
When it comes to your theatrical sewing needs, put your needles away and rent something from this million-dollar company Sew What?. This company found their niche in making drapes and curtains for big stages and theaters. They were founded in 1992 by Megan and Adam Duckett. In the '90s, there was a lack of companies for artists and venues to get big custom-made drapes or curtains. Although they have reached Hollywood and continue to make drapes and curtains for big names, they still have a storefront in which you can order and rent drapes for your own purposes.
Amazon has come a long way from an online book-selling store. This billion-dollar company now sells everything you could think of from books to groceries. When this company started in 1996, there was no way Jeff Bezos could have known how big the company would grow. Bezos started Amazon mainly to sell the books from his garage from different distributors. As the company grew, his vision grew and so did their overall worth. This company started with three employees and has now grown to have thousands of partners, workers, and several warehouses.
Another large online seller, Ebay, was started in 1995 by a computer programer named Pierre Omidyar. The site began hosting auctions as a way to sell off things rather than just posting a set final price. By 1997, his site was hosting more than 250,000 auctions a year, helping build this business. Before starting this empire, Omidyar was working in computers for Claris where he worked on system upgrades. Once he started selling items from his living room, he realized he found his new career and eBay has become a billion-dollar business throughout the years.
9 Harley Davidson
If you know anything about motorcycles, then the name Harley Davidson should ring a bell. This company has become one of the most successful motorcycle manufacturers in the country. When three friends, William S. Harley and Arthur and Walter Davidson began working out of their shed in the early 1900s, they had no idea what would become of the brand. Although they sold their first bike to a friend in 1903, it wasn’t until 1907 that they became an official incorporated company. The friends realized the demand for the bikes and they began building their empire from there. Although they were the only motorcycle manufacturers at the time, Henry Ford had already made his appearance in the world, but it did not affect the outcome of this billion-dollar company.
8 Cents of Style
When it comes to fashion, it can get pretty expensive if you don’t have an abundance of money. Cents of Style may be one of the solutions to wearing affordable and fashionable clothes. Courtney Brown started this company in 2007, and her initial purpose was to find a productive outlet with her being a stay-at-home mom. She grew the idea from her family and friends when they would inquire about her style and how she afforded it. This inspired her to start a company where you can ask those questions openly and you can purchase fashionable clothes and accessories.
7 Tom’s of Maine
In the current day and age, using natural products has become more and more popular. Married couple Tom and Kate Chappell had the idea before it was trendy and they have given us a line of natural sanitary products. Before they branched out to create this million-dollar business Mr. Chappell worked with his father's detergent company. The couple started making natural soaps because they did not want to use chemically-processed products for their skin. After this development, they began selling them to family and friends and expanding their line to include other products such as toothpaste and deodorant.
6 Sally’s Simple Syrup
When it comes to syrup, the first thing you may think of is maple syrup, however, Jennifer Trebisovsky had a different idea for her line of syrups. The founder of Sally’s Syrup started her million-dollar company because she learned how to make syrup from her grandmother. At first, it was just a way to pass the time until her friends and family began to encourage her to sell it. Once she noticed how popular this product was, she went into full entrepreneurial mode and expanded her vision of Sally’s Syrup. You can currently buy this syrup in grocery stores and online and they ship globally. The brand has also branched out to sell more than one flavor of their simple syrup.
5 Mrs. Fields
The brand name Mrs. Fields probably makes you think of baked goods and we have founder Debbi Fields to thank for that. This cookie company got their start in 1977 when Debbi and her husband, Randy Fields, opened up their first store in Palo Alto, California. Although this may be their big start, it actually all started in their family kitchen with a recipe for cookies that the Fields’ could not keep to themselves. Since the opening of their first store, Mrs. Fields are now being sold online, in groceries stories, and in their own stores across California.
If you enjoy spending time in nature and going on hikes, then Fitpacking is exactly what you should look into. Created by Steve Silberberg, this backpacking service can not only help you get fit and lose that unwanted weight, but they also show you the beautiful views nature has to offer. Before starting these nature trips, Silberberg worked in corporate America in the city of Boston, but the cubicle life was not for him. He found that while on vacation, he enjoyed going backpacking and it was a stress-reliever from his normal life. He decided to take the leap and turn his stress-relieving hobby into a lucrative business.
3 Firehouse Subs
If you like Subway, then you've heard of one of their competitors, Firehouse Subs. This sandwich company was started by two firefighters, brothers Robin and Chris Sorensen, in 1994 in Florida. Since then, the company has taken a nationwide turn and you can find several locations. The initial concept of this casual dining place came from two brothers who not only loved their jobs, but also loved sandwiches and decided to combine the two. When the business took off, the brothers quit their jobs as firefighters and became entrepreneurs to build this million-dollar business.
Because everyone likes everything digital now, coming up with a digital yearbook solution is exactly what siblings Catherine and David Cook did. They did not want the standard paper yearbook so they transferred it to a digital version. The siblings created this website to connect with those that are already in their social circles. Although it only started out with an idea and very few investors interested, they were persistence and reported $20 million in the first 6 years of operation. They have since then changed their name to MeetMe and they have merged with Latin company Quepasa.
1 Pillow Pets
Who can resist cute pillows shaped like some of our favorite characters and animals? Pillow Pets continue to bring joy to the hearts of millions of children with their friendly faces and familiar shapes. These cuddling pillows were brought to the world by founder Jennifer Telfer in 2003, who is a mother of two children. The idea came about when her son insisted on sleeping with his stuffed animals that were too bulky to sleep with. It was easy to come up with a solution which she initially sold to family and friends at Christmas time. Once she became a hit, Jennifer and her husband, Clint, took less than $1,000 from their savings and started their now-million-dollar company.
Sources: entrepreneur.com, forbes.com, fundinguniverse.com, inc.com, telegraph.com