Cultivating Your Next Homestead Business Idea

If you do a quick online search, you’ll find hundreds of articles and pitches for Master Classes and E-Courses claiming to FAST TRACK your homestead dreams. Forget the jargon and marketing buzz. We’re all about reality around here. I can’t promise you success. What I can share, however, is a method that has worked for others.

Every new business is different. The time you have available, your passion, physical space, local community, and so many other factors will come into play as you work to launch a new venture. While exciting, it can be daunting to think about starting a business. Intimidating even.

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Whether you’re struggling to come up with an idea or you have too many to choose from, focused brainstorming can help. The goal is to have at least three ideas that are feasible… something you think you could pull off (with some time, effort, and possibly research). Try not to think about things like taxes, permits, and bookkeeping software at this point – that will come later.

Not sure where to start?

  • Do you already create products or offer services as a hobby? Do you have the capacity to scale that up?
  • Spend some time people watching and trying to put yourself in their shoes. What is a product or service they could use?
  • Do you have a skill others want to learn? Consider coaching, consulting, tutoring, or hosting educational workshops.

Have a list of potential ideas? Great! You’re ready for the next step.

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Every idea has it’s own set of obstacles and opportunities. In many ways, obstacles pose risks and everyone has their own comfort threshold when it comes to risk. Think about the level of red tape, start up costs, expert knowledge that may be required for each idea. How comfortable are you with tackling those obstacles? What level of risk are you willing to take on?

Look at each of your ideas and come up with a list of need-to-knows. If you’re hung up on the red-tape unknowns researching with your Department of Agriculture, Business and Commerce, or a quick call to your local government offices may clear up questions about license, permit, inspection, and fee requirements. Remember, our goal is eliminate ideas that have too many obstacles to focus on more feasible ones.

Ready to get a bit more specific? It’s time to answer the following:

  • What will you need to get started? How much will it cost?
  • What are the potential obstacles you can see initially?
  • How hard will it be to get your first sale?
  • Is this a new idea? Is there a clear path/structure to get to where you want to be?
  • What is the ideal outcome?
  • What is the worst-case scenario?
  • If it doesn’t work, what is the financial implication for you?

Consider making a T-Chart (or similar organization table) to organize your thoughts. By looking at the opportunities and obstacles of your ideas side by side, you’ll have a much better understanding of which ideas to pursue and which to hold on to for a future endeavor.

Your answers don’t have to be technical. This more about getting your vision on paper and seeing what ideas naturally fit for you. Let’s go through the questions using an example: Best Farm Sitters LLC

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  • What will you need to get started? How much will it cost?
    • Calendar for scheduling, transportation, boot covers or other personal protective equipment for traveling to different farms, basic contract and liability release
  • What are the potential obstacles you can see initially?
    • Building a name that is trusted and recognized, limited number of farms in the immediate area, familiarity with different species of animals people may have, hard to compete with neighbors and teenage labor
  • How hard will it be to get your first sale?
    • Depends on price point. Offer a discounted rate to a local farmer you already know? Run a special?
  • Is this a new idea? Is there a clear path/structure to get to where you want to be?
    • There are others that perform this service locally, but not as a structured business.
  • What is the ideal outcome?
    • Repeat business and word-of-mouth advertising. Demand will cause the business to grow and create a network of farm sitters. Instead of farm sitting yourself, you could matchmake farm sitters to farmers. Less time consuming, wouldn’t involve as much travel to earn commissions
  • What is the worst-case scenario?
    • No one books the service
  • If it doesn’t work, what is the financial implication for you?
    • Lost time, but low financial risk: advertising costs will be lost, low start-up costs and most could be re-purposed for your own farm

Still liking your ideas? Great! In the next post we’ll look at how to estimate potential profit to help solidify your decision of which one to pursue first. If not, try going through the brainstorming process again to identify more ideas.

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