Many people begin their homesteading journey in an effort to be more self sufficient and rely more on sweat equity and homegrown, homemade food to provide for their families. But doing this takes A LOT of work. Should you use that effort into making money from this lifestyle? If so, how?
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Should you start a business with your homestead?
That is a complicated question. The first question is, do you want to run a business? Do you want to be an entrepreneur? There are so many aspects of building a business outside of the specific products or services you want to tell. Be sure to consider a platform for selling, how you plan to market, who your target customer is and whether you are legally allowed to sell certain items.
You will have to think about taxes too. Definitely become a sole proprietorship and register with the state you reside. In addition, you may need to consider taxes on the items you put up for sale as many states have sales tax.
Many people want to live a simpler life with access to fresh, healthy, homegrown and homemade food. This can include many different actives such as keep chickens for eggs, baking, canning, sewing, knitting, making soap, brewing kombucha, growing food and much more. Everything except eggs, produce and dairy are considered “value added” items that you’ve modified to make into things like jam and bread.
All of these can be sold or bartered to other people for a small profit. However, before you dive into selling any of these, particularly anything involving food you will need to read about your local cottage food laws. Depending on where you live they can be extensive, with much more information and stipulations than you may have even imagined. We will go through a few of them.
One of the interesting things about selling soap, especially if you plan to market online through channels such as Amazon shop or Etsy, is your description of the soap itself has to include (or more importantly NOT include) certain words or phrases. Soap which is defined as the saponification of an acid and a fat, can be sold simply as soap. There are many different cosmetic and drug related laws surrounding soap that you should be aware before starting your business.
Related post: Getting started making soap
The questions arise when you are considering the different additives such as oatmeal or activated charcoal, unless you get licensed (and more importantly insurance) you cannot list it as treating a specific medical condition such as eczema or acne. Soap Queen has an excellent series on how to sell your soap and what you need to know. You should also consider how much insurance you will need to ensure financial liability should anyone not like or react poorly to your soap.
Selling baked goods
Or any home made food stuffs might have restrictions. For example, here in NW Louisiana, if you plan on selling canned jam you have to mark it as home canned. Also, if you want to sell home baked goodies like bread, cookies, etc. you have to have a kitchen that is “constructed so as to exclude rats, mice, roaches, or other vermin. Domestic pets shall be excluded in any part of the establishment where preparation and baking takes place.” It must not be sold indirectly (meaning you sell them to a store that then sells them to the public). Most of this information is found under various “cottage food laws” that vary by state and country.
Dairy, meat and eggs
If you have chickens and are considering selling eggs or meat and/or have a dairy cow or goats and want to sell milk, cheese or other baked goods, there are many more hurtles. The USDA oversees the sale of these “riskier” items and sanitization practices are required such as having a separate building with its own water supply to pasteurize milk.
If you are interesting in selling animal products, definitely do your homework on whether the set up is worth the cost of set up as well as the labor involved will be worth the projected sales. Be sure to do your research as to the available market in your area. Will people be willing to pay $4/dozen for beyond organic, pastured eggs?
You may be blessed with a green thumb and plenty of good arable land. Or you have found a niche in a special type of micro greens or mushrooms. If you want to sell produce, you can do this locally at a farmer’s market and spend your Saturday mornings with the people of your area, getting to know them and providing fresh, homegrown produce that everyone can enjoy.
There are some legal considerations for selling homegrown, unprocessed produce but not as many as other avenues such as soap and baked goods. The FDA and USDA have regulations on the books about this but most don’t apply to hobby farming. Also be sure, like with keeping chickens, you understand and are aware of the zoning laws for your area in case growing and selling produce is not allowed.
There are many ways to make money from one activity. Take sewing for example. If you enjoy the activity as well as regularly participate in it, it might be possible that teaching other people will make you money that trying to sell your home sewn items.
But how can you do this? There are SO many ways these days. You could teach virtually through programs such as teachable or on youtube. Or get together with a local library or community college and offer to set up courses through them. Depending on what you are teaching, you may need access to a full kitchen.
You could also start a blog! Its a good option for people looking for low initial investment but be warned, it does take a long time and a fair bit of self promotion to make a reasonable income. This is where you can reach others like yourself interested in learning about homesteading as well as sharing what you’ve learned so far.
Do you have the capital?
This is important as you may need some funds (or space) to begin a sustainable business. For example, if you choose to sell baked goods, you will need large amounts of ingredients and a decent kitchen appliances to bake your goodies. Plus you will need a way to package your stuff. In bags or boxes? Will it have your logo?
Sourcing supplies will be very important as you may need to make a certain amount of stock on hand. Soap is a good example of this. It would be hard to sell soap if you only had a few bars on hand as this severely limits people’s options.
Do you have time?
No matter what you decide to do as a business, you will need time to devote to it. This can be particularly difficult if you are trying to launch this business while also having another full time job. Many bloggers that make a reasonable amount of money to replace their income devote many long nights and hours to promotions, quality creations and business strategizing.
There are ways to “find” time. First, you need to prioritize what needs, wants, have-tos, etc. are on your plate. Second, you need to plan out your time in order to fit it all in. Then if you can
Do you and your family have the resolve?
Starting a business is tough. Many small business owners are never short on stories of scrimping and scraping through tough times. What happens when bugs just devour your broccoli for the year? There will definitely be ups and downs in any business. As part of owning a business you will need to be quick on your feet and able to adapt when the situation changes.
My husband and I have 3 sons under the age of 7. This is a lot of moving parts with both parents working outside of the home. But nonetheless, I started a blog about homesteading to learn from others, share what I’ve learned and bring a platform to share this amazing information to the world. But like any business, I cannot neglect it or it simply fades. This can be hard to do with another full time job, but persistence is really key. Sometimes its just 30 minutes here or there. But sometimes, I can give a good chunk of time to research, reach out and connect. This is the beauty of a home business but also the difficulty.
So should you make your homestead a business?
If you are committed, ready, capable and driven to do this, then go for it! This is your chance to branch out. Create something for the people of this world you want to learn more, be more self sufficient or enjoy homemade goods. Fresh, local food is on the rise, especially with the Slow Food Movement. People all over the world are realizing the benefit of spending their dollar on their neighbors bread rather than Monsanto’s. If you want to do this, you won’t know how until you try. Good luck!
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