Plenty of indicators suggest that a cultural shift toward sustainability is underway. For many, that means turning to local producers and providers for goods and services they use every day. This has opened the door for homesteaders of all types to transform their at-home hobby farms into sustainable and enriching livelihoods. If this is something you are interested in as well, first, however, you must find a practical way to monetize your hobby farm. For those looking for guidance, Seal the Seasons has put together a small set of guidelines that can help you establish a solid foundation for starting a homesteading business.
Do Market Research
Not every hobby translates well into a livelihood. Conducting market research will help you uncover whether there is a demand for your products or services and who else is currently working to meet it. This can be done using a variety of methods and should include both primary and secondary research. Once completed, you will be able to successfully:
Take Care of Business
Many hobby farmers don't take the steps needed to set up a legal business structure. Maybe you list your items through a third-party reseller online or in local boutiques, or perhaps you only supply friends and family. However, if you want to expand that to a profitable business model, then you need to develop a business plan and take steps to make it official.
One of the first things you'll need to do is establish a legal structure for your business. Sole proprietorships and partnerships are the simplest forms to manage, but there are some disadvantages to these structures. One of those is that owners retain liability.
Forming an LLC is a good alternative for many homesteaders. It limits liability while retaining flexibility in the management structure. There are also several tax advantages. You can save the hassle and cost of hiring an attorney by using an online formation service. Rules can vary by state, so be sure to check with the appropriate office before moving forward with choosing a business structure — especially if you’re trying to do this step without help.
Homesteaders tend to be an independent lot. However, you don't have to do everything yourself when it comes to running your business. As AllBusiness explains, outsourcing critical business functions, such as accounting and marketing duties, puts them in the hands of professionals who know the laws, regulations, and best practices in their fields. In many cases, hiring these things out is more profitable than trying to muddle your way through.
Start Selling Your Products
Once you are up and running in a professional capacity, it is time to share what you offer with the rest of the world — or at least your local community. Rely on your original research insights to target your efforts, develop a marketing plan, and establish a strong brand.
Many small farmers worry about the seasonality of homesteading, but there are ways to combat that, too. Holding seminars or classes to share your knowledge is a great option. Try sharing recipes that use your products fresh, frozen, and preserved. You can also start a blog, offer podcasts or publish a YouTube channel to share your homesteading experiences.
Keep in mind that, as Grit notes, there are many ways to sell your homestead products. You might find success at local seasonal markets, or perhaps you want to establish a private farm store. The internet and social media sites also offer excellent avenues to generate customers and sales.
A homestead can be a profitable business with careful planning and dedication. Whether you raise crops or produce farm crafts — or anything in between — doing proper market research, establishing a legal structure, and developing a customer base will help you get started on the right foot.
Whether it is pies, sauces, or your favorite jam—Seal the Seasons offers a wide variety of locally sourced produce that can serve as great ingredients for your homemade goods. For recipes, and information on where to find our product before your next big project, be sure to check out our recipes section, and our where to buy section.