Starting a new business is a lot about forming goals and meeting them. When starting a homestead, that can be difficult, since income coming in can be more erratic and seasonal than we are used to with "real" jobs. The money going out seems constant with the cost of hay, feed, seeds and other expenses. Any money coming in always seems already spent!
Combined with the unlikely chance of making a profit in the first several years, deciding on a definition of progress has been an interesting challenge for us in starting the homestead. Sherri will be taking a break from a "real world" job during the lambing season to make sure all our bouncing babies make it into the world successfully (fingers crossed) so we need goals that no longer move us forward as a business, but will make up for enough of that lost revenue to make sure we don't lose everything before we've even started.
So how do make sure we are still moving forward and whether to continue this venture? We ask ourselves a lot of hard questions:
- Are we surviving? Is there immediate danger we might not survive in case of an emergency?
- Are the animals thriving? Are we having to cut so many corners they might suffer?
- Is our online presence growing? Do we have more engagement with the web site/Facebook/newsletter? Is it meaningful engagement?
- Are we doing more paid events? More classes? Is the interest in our topics growing or waning?
- Do we have wait lists filled ahead for our livestock? They are expensive to feed if we regularly end up with extras.
- What is selling well? What isn't? What can we try different?
We also plan to develop a variety of products, which will eventually allow us the ability to offer goods year-round.
This year we will be adding farm tours and speaking events to our official repertoire, as well as lambs, kids, rabbits, young birds and more. We are looking for someone capable of tanning hides to deal with our rabbit skins and even our odds and ends won't go to waste. And, if the cottage license goes through, we will be working on out line up of honey-based baked good and chocolates in no time!
What do you look for at a homestead? What products interest you that you don't find commonly? Have you thought about homestead yourself, or adding new animals to your homestead?
Tell us about your plans too! We'd love to hear them!