Turned your hobby into a business?

sumi

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I'm interested in hearing how others turned their smallholding, SS related, hobbies into businesses. Please tell what you did, how you started and share some tips for others that may want to try it.

I'll start. I started keeping a few hens about 8 years ago for eggs. We are not big egg eaters, so I sold the extra eggs to a friend and put the money towards paying for feed. Our friend told other people who started asking me for eggs and I realised there is a demand for free range eggs here... and no supply. Fast forward a few months, I had 100 chickens and nowhere near enough eggs to meet the local demand.

I was in the fortunate position that I'm allowed to sell eggs here and had a very keen market, which helped. I bought chicken feed in bulk to save money and free ranged my flock on good quality pasture (mix of grass and lucerne/alfalfa), which cut back on the feed costs. I started collecting clean, used egg boxes weeks before the eggs started coming regularly, so I didn't have to buy any, ever. I asked my customers to put in weekly fixed orders and calculated the average number of eggs I got weekly. I then took orders for around 80% of the eggs, to ensure I can meet that demand and the extras were eaten by us or sold to hopeful customers dropping in for eggs. I've made a fairly decent profit after deducting feed costs and the money spend buying and raising chicks (which was way cheaper than buying POL pullets), though it took me about 2 years. The coop and run materials was 50% reused/recycled and 50% newly bought. I've recouped all the money I spent on that when we sold our farm and I resold all the materials. I also sold older hens and cockerels hatched and raised over the years, but for them I mainly got my feed money back.
 

Hinotori

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I break even on feed for the chickens by selling eggs. I'm going to be selling some pullets this year which should cover most of the straw I need for the coops for winter. Next year I'll have silkies to sell to cover all the extra bedding and other costs.
 

hqueen13

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I accidentally turned a "hobby" into a business. True story.
I knew when my ex and I split up that I wanted to live where I kept my horse. I also knew that the only way to find such an arrangement would be word of mouth. Well, word of mouth happened, and I called the contact that I got just to do some market research. I had no idea what the cost of renting a farmette type situation would be, so I wanted to have a budget in mind. I wasn't really prepared to move any time soon, knowing how expensive moving really is. Long story short, I loved the place, the price was SUPER reasonable for what he was offering AND the landlord told me that I could board horses to reduce my rent cost since the lease allowed for the use of a 6+ acre pasture and 7 stall barn.
So suddenly I found myself in the boarding business. I was grateful for all of the experience I had working on the farm that my ex and I lived on for 7 years, it really paid off. I was able to move forward (mostly) confidently, and with the help of a couple friends got myself set up. Those friends moved on, and I found my first "real" customers, and am now doing pretty well. It covers the majority of our rent and electric, plus supports my own horse. After a year (the anniversary was actually the beginning of this month) I finally feel like I have a real handle on how to run the business and the way that I want the business to support us (myself and my new boyfriend).
In addition to boarding 6 other horses we stumbled into building Hay Feeders for horses, which is a decent income for the effort now that we have a process and design that has come together fairly easily.
Finally, I farm sit and watch horses for people when they go out of town. I have done that for years, but now it is formally part of our business. And lastly, I am a distributor for a number of companies that sell natural products for both people and animals. I became a distributor not to make money but to be able to have access to the products at a reduced cost. I believe in the products, and use them (many daily), so sales isn't a concern, but an added bonus when I can share the products with others.

It finally clicked a number of months ago that I don't really want the business to make money, I want the business to support us and help us pay bills and do things that we would otherwise not be able to do. I could very easily go get a full time job and between the BF and I we could make enough money to cover the rent. But having the business enables me to have the freedom to explore other SS activities, grow my own food, and work on an organic farm down the road to learn more about that aspect of life, so that some day when we do move to our own property I'll have the skills and knowledge to be on my own. Having the business gives me the freedom and flexibility to accomplish a lot of things that I couldn't do if I had a full time job.

As an aside, I don't really plan to continue boarding as a "full" time prospect in the future. Boarding is a tough business, and dealing with clients all the time can be a real challenge. I plan to go to school for animal communication, and again, the fact that my schedule is so flexible will be helpful with my business. I do want to move out of this state at some point in the future, and being able to have my own animal communication business will allow me to move without any additional loss of business. So this is a great stepping stone for me.
 
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BarredBuff

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That is me in a nutshell. I want to support myself, and do what I love. I don't want a 9 to 5 job, but an occupation that I love and doesn't feel like work. Hopefully, right on the homestead.
 

Support

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These are great inspirational stories guys. I'm sure a lot of SS members will be motivated to take risks and start their own SS business.

Great job on starting this thread @sumi
 

Tuco

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One of my biggest passions is garage sales, thrift stores, etc. So, I opened an antique/vintage store. Unfortunately there was too much overhead, so I had to close the store, but I still sell on Ebay quite a bit. It's really a good way to make some extra income if you know what to look for.
 

sumi

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My DH and MIL dealt in antiques for years. I used to drive them crazy asking why this and that ugly little thing is so expensive. I guess I don't know what to look for ;)
 

rhoda_bruce

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I ordered 20 something pullets and 3 roos, 5 years ago, and then received an e-mail that it would take 3 months to process my order. I didn't want to wait that long, so I cancelled and went to the city and bought 20 pullets. They didn't have roos, so I figured I'd just find one somewhere later and I started raising them. Then 3 months later, when I was outside, admiring my birds, who were in the yard, pecking and scratching, the post office calls, telling me that my chicks were in...the one's I cancelled. I knew, I would need to sell my extra eggs. I made it affordable,by bringing scraps from work....lotta food wasted when you talking about 160 people. Did that for 4 month before boss stopped me. Then started buying grain in bulk. I do good enough with just eggs but much better selling chicks, ducklings and goslings.
I used to sell Extreme Power Plus years back, until they pulled ephedra off the market and then it was a hard sell. Well, I overheard 2 of my aids talking about an herbal diet suppliment and I got them to tell me more and I told them that sounded like what I used to sell, back in the day and I could use some energy, so I was gonna see if I could find it...well, I'm back in and most of what I sell is to nurses and aids. I have a sign up in front my house though. Also sell 2 other products they offer....colon cleanser and SLImeal.
Neither of these can support me, but either can rescue me in a pinch and if you don't mix it with your money, then the next shipment is paid for and you can consider other ways to invest wih the difference.
Oh...and I don't have anyone distributing under me yet, but it works like that too. If I order a case, every 6 months, I'm considered an active distributer and anyone who buys, with me as their referral, I get a check cuz they selling...hasn't happened yet though. The real trick is to lose weight, look active and happy, so people actually want the stuff. Kinda hard to sell diet pills, unless people see you are losing weight.
 

rhoda_bruce

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I ordered 20 something pullets and 3 roos, 5 years ago, and then received an e-mail that it would take 3 months to process my order. I didn't want to wait that long, so I cancelled and went to the city and bought 20 pullets. They didn't have roos, so I figured I'd just find one somewhere later and I started raising them. Then 3 months later, when I was outside, admiring my birds, who were in the yard, pecking and scratching, the post office calls, telling me that my chicks were in...the one's I cancelled. I knew, I would need to sell my extra eggs. I made it affordable,by bringing scraps from work....lotta food wasted when you talking about 160 people. Did that for 4 month before boss stopped me. Then started buying grain in bulk. I do good enough with just eggs but much better selling chicks, ducklings and goslings.
I used to sell Extreme Power Plus years back, until they pulled ephedra off the market and then it was a hard sell. Well, I overheard 2 of my aids talking about an herbal diet suppliment and I got them to tell me more and I told them that sounded like what I used to sell, back in the day and I could use some energy, so I was gonna see if I could find it...well, I'm back in and most of what I sell is to nurses and aids. I have a sign up in front my house though. Also sell 2 other products they offer....colon cleanser and SLImeal.
Neither of these can support me, but either can rescue me in a pinch and if you don't mix it with your money, then the next shipment is paid for and you can consider other ways to invest wih the difference.
Oh...and I don't have anyone distributing under me yet, but it works like that too. If I order a case, every 6 months, I'm considered an active distributer and anyone who buys, with me as their referral, I get a check cuz they selling...hasn't happened yet though. The real trick is to lose weight, look active and happy, so people actually want the stuff. Kinda hard to sell diet pills, unless people see you are losing weight.
 

xoxocammyxoxo

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I haven't gotten to a point where I can say anything I'm doing is a business. I do have meal worms that I'm producing and sell to help supplement my growing hobbies. I would love to stay at home and home school my son but I just don't see that happening right now. My SO works for Amazon and makes enough money to pay the bills but that's about it. If we're ever going to buy a place, I have to get a better job. I keep hoping though that maybe I will be able to pull it off in the next three years (my son is almost 2) and I won't have to send him off to school. The problem is I think and plan a lot better when I have someone to talk to and the people I used to talk to all are gone out of my life. That's a story and a half I don't want to get into right now, but yeah.
 
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