19 Off-Grid Small Business Ideas: How To Make Money Doing What You Love.
Going off the grid has been on my mind for awhile now. However, one of the roadblocks to going off the grid is the problem of making enough cash/money to pay your taxes, purchase items that you can't get off the grid or just having some cash for a rainy day. Now, since I am a woman, this problem is all the more acute, there is only so much I can do. So after much thought, sleepless nights, prayer and meditation I have come up with a pretty workable list. At least it's workable in my mind and that's all that matters to me. So without further delay here is a workable list of business ideas, methods and jobs for bringing in the cash while living large “Off the Grid”.
1. Spinning homemade yarn and knitted goods:
This is my newest adventure! Recently, I decided to take up knitting. When I made the trek to the nearest yarn shop I was very disappointed. The yarn they had was just your ordinary, ugly, skinny, bland yarn. I had visions in my head of wild, full, vibrant, crazy yarn. I knew I had seen it somewhere but it definitely was NOT in this yarn store. When I asked the clerk about it she didn't seem to know what I was talking about. So I picked up some half-ways decent yarn (because that was all I could find) and started looking online for the yarn of my dreams. Well I found it! It was homemade, homespun yarn that I had seen and it was AWESOME! I had found a new hobby and with a little luck maybe even a new job! Not only is homespun yarn more beautiful than the ugly stuff you get in the stores but it is so much fun to make and really quite addictive. Immediately I started thinking about how I could purchase my own goats and sheep to supply my new endeavor!
2. Selling Organic Fruits, Nuts and Vegetables:
This is a given if you are living off the grid. When I had my boarding house in Portland, Oregon I had two apple trees. One I never had to do anything to and it provided the most wonderful, the most perfect apples I've ever had. The other was so awful that had I not moved I would have cut down that tree. So, the lesson here is plant things that grow easily in your area. That way you wont have to do anything to your trees but collect the fruit and prune them every once in a while. Of course there is a bit more work to growing vegetables but the lesson still applies: plant things that grow in your area. It will cut down on the amount of work and you can get by with little or no pesticides. Eat from your farm, can some things and sell the rest.
3. Freelance Writing:
Well, anyone who has had any experience at all with freelance writing knows that they will never get rich doing this. However, having said that, you don't need to make a lot of money when you are living off the grid...so what you do make stretches further than if you were living somewhere else with real bills. So, freelance writing can contribute to your income and with a little effort might mean the difference between making a tax payment or going into foreclosure. Besides all that, it's fun!
4. Raising and Selling Animals:
Look, you have all that land so you might as well make good use of it! Breeding animals can also be a wonderful experience and a lucrative small business. I have a friend who bred seeing eye dogs for the blind, she did this for many years and found it very fulfilling. There are all kinds of animals that you can breed and sell, farm animals, seeing-eye dogs, police dogs, if you like certain breeds you can breed them or you can even venture out into birds. If you already have farm animals you might as well breed them and sell the off-spring. And while were on that topic you might as well milk the cows or sheep and sell the cheese too! Raw milk is delicious and becoming quite the rage. I drink raw milk and I will NEVER go back to drinking swill milk again. Each state is different but to "sell" raw milk you might have to sell cow-shares which is just a legal machination in order to make it legal. The upside is that you don't have to be licensed by the state in most states (again check your state). Selling raw milk is actually cheaper and easier than selling the crap you buy in the stores. Now, I can hear some of you saying that you don't have the space to raise and sell animals, well have you ever thought about raising rabbits? Rabbits can be raised even inside a building, they are quiet and the breed..well like rabbits! Also, let's not forget about fish, if you have a decent sized pond you can raise catfish, tilapia or trout. And even without a pond you can build an aqua-ponics greenhouse and have as many fish as you want! Another idea was put out there by fellow hubber Billybuc and that is raising and either eating or selling quail. Quail are quite delicious, they are quiet so you could have them even in a city and they are ready to be... umm dispatched... is the word, in 5 weeks. I have included a link to his article about raising quail below. There are so many possibilities here that I couldn't possibly address them all.
Raising Rabbits for Profit
5. Selling Eggs:
Depending on how many chickens you have selling eggs can be an industry all it's own, especially if they are free range organic eggs. Most chickens lay one egg a day, at around $3.00 a dozen, it's possible to make some extra cash just selling eggs, if you don't want to go full hog (or chicken) then you can just sell eggs to your neighbors to make a little here and there.
This may or may not work depending on how far out you are. However, if you already have children of your own why not add a few more and make some extra money. Children love farms and two or three more at minimum wage could bring in an easy thousand a month or more. This is a great small business if you have connections through a farm club or church.
7. Making and selling solar ovens and dehydrators:
Solar ovens and dehydrators are pretty easy to make...it's not like building a house or something! I included this because even I could make a solar oven or dehydrator and they are such neat contraptions. They can be as artistically designed as you like, easy to build and practical since they use no electricity and provide a useful service. Advertise in the local paper and see who gives you a call.
Seeds used to be used as money & may well again
8. Selling Heirloom Seeds and Plants:
With all the GMO frankenfoods out there this industry is making quite a splash. Anyone who knows anything about all the crap in the grocery store wants to start growing their own food. Since you already have the seeds and plants why not harvest extra and sell them from your farm? It's very easy to do and costs little to nothing since you already have the plants.
9. Selling Fertilizer:
I read once that some guy started a small business selling chicken manure and made over $500,000 a year doing so. If he can do it we can do it! You have the animals, all you have to do is advertise, maybe you or I won't make $500,000 a year but really do you need that much?
10. Starting an “Off-Grid” School:
This is something I've been knocking around in my brain for sometime now. The old ways of spinning, cooking on a wood-stove, chopping wood, building cob houses, making maple syrup from ...MAPLE TREES, has been lost. We go to the store and we buy what we need, never thinking about where it comes from or what's in it. I think a small business school like this that teaches people how to survive off the grid and independently would really make it. Of course, with this idea you would have to have a good sized area and facilities to house your students and teachers. But, I think it would work and it has the potential to bring in quite a bit of money.
I read somewhere that ENTP's (Meyer's Briggs personality tests), of which I am, create their own world and then charge people rent. Well if that doesn't describe me I don't know what does. For over 10 years I ran a boarding house in Portland, Oregon. It was a lot of fun and it paid my mortgage. I would think that there would be a lot of people who might be interested in spending the weekend at your “Off-Grid” farm. I know I would! So why not build a home that is large enough for guests and put out the shingle! It's quite a wonderful experience to meet people from all over the world and the money would be more than enough for your needs.
12. Cultivating Bees and Selling Honey:
This could be done in a yard, you wouldn't even need an acre and I don't know if you've noticed but the price of honey has skyrocketed lately. You can also use the beeswax for your candles!
13. Make Candles or Soap:
This is something you can do off the grid and most of the ingredients you can get on your land. You could also sell these items over the internet or you could even have a little “gift shop” along with the B&B.
14. Upholstering or Refinishing Furniture:
I personally know of one person who does this for a living out of his home (and you know who you are!). This is one field that you would have to live close to a city in order to drum up enough business.
15. How about making Art:
There are so many things around the farm that you can make art from. For example pressing flowers and framing them, paintings, how about taking old windows and making pictures from them. Etsy has all kinds of stuff like this, the only limit is your imagination!
16. Sell Firewood:
If you have access to a forest why not make your own firewood or lumber and sell it? You don't have to have a lumber mill all you have to have is a portable lumber mill. You could also make furniture if you are so inclined.
17. Maple Syrup!
If you have maple trees you could tap them and make your own syrup. Have you seen the price of maple syrup lately?
You can do a myriad of things with bamboo. Here is an article I wrote:
50 Things to Do with Bamboo:
19. Or...All of the above! :)
Finally, I don't think that is is completely unfeasible to do or at least to try all of the above mentioned ways to make money. Some areas might be more to your liking than others but hey you'll never know until you try them and just think of all the fun you'll have giving it a whirl!
As a people we must start thinking for ourselves, we must stop depending on government to house us, give us jobs, provide food, energy and water. As Americans we have a heritage of independence but I'm afraid we have lost our way and have become dependent upon the state. I read a story awhile back in the book “The Creature from Jekyll Island”. It goes something like this: There was a farmer who noticed a lot of ducks on his farm and hungered for a duck dinner. But, every time he tried to catch one of the ducks they flew away. Finally he got smart and started leaving bits of food around. The ducks started eating the free food and therefore started becoming fat. The farmer started trailing the food to an area with a trap door and eventually the ducks became so tame that they just followed the food right into the trap. So the farmer was able to have a duck dinner anytime he wanted.
We have to learn from this lesson that cheap energy, free food or housing that is given by or supplemented by the state can be taken by the state. To really be free we have to strive, innovate, create, and just say NO to the trail of crumbs that leads to the trap. Living Off-Grid, having your own small business and being independent is the way to avoid becoming someone's duck dinner!