There are many barriers that keep people from being prepared for a disaster. Regardless of whether it is what others may think of you, the fact your spouse doesn’t like the idea of your “hoarding” or you feel like you will never be prepared enough so why start, there will always be a reason to avoid the hard work it takes to protect yourself from being part of the status quo. Of all the challenges, probably the single greatest barrier to securing your preparedness are the associated costs and what it takes to have the money on hand to finance your survival.
While there is always the possibility that you have a good-paying job that affords you the opportunity to obtain everything you need for long-term survival following a disaster or emergency, most of us do not have that problem. This means making some tough decisions with our money or finding a secondary source of income to make up the difference. Depending on where you live, it could be fairly easy to get a job delivering pizzas part time to make extra money. But the money would be minimal, and you would have to answer to someone else. The single best method that I can think of to make the money needed to finance your survival is building your own source of income.
Sitting around and waiting for someone to offer you a second job or to build a business for you is just not going to happen. If you want it, you are going to have to put it together yourself. Consider these steps when deciding what might be a good source of income for you.
Take an inventory of the skills and/or knowledge that you possess to give you a strong starting point to build your business around. It will be best to work in an area where you are knowledgeable and not doing something that you hope to figure out as you go.
Evaluate the market
The first thing I would say is to look at the business being done in your area. If your business is not similar to one that already exists, you may want to rethink your idea. This sounds counterintuitive, right? Think about it though: If someone is already successful at your idea, that means people are spending money on it. If there is not a business like yours, it probably means that no one is interested in spending any money on it.
Also consider what you can do better than others that would make someone want to do business with you instead of someone else. You should be better in one area or another if you want to do well. Ask yourself what problem you are going to solve and how you will meet the needs of your customers. What opportunities are available to you that will make your business successful? What risks or potential problems lie in wait for you along your journey?
Lastly, see if there is a business or niche that is essentially “recession-proof” that will match up with your knowledge and skills.
Formulate a plan
Decide how you are going to structure your business, where you will have your business and what requirements there will be to get your business up and running. This might include:
- Structure: Based on the type of business you start, you may need to structure it a certain way to ensure that you are protected from a legal standpoint. This often means deciding if you will operate a sole proprietorship, a limited liability corporation (LLC), etc. You may want to consult an attorney for this step.
- Zoning: Are there restrictions in your local area that prohibit you from operating a business, or certain types of businesses, from your home? These could be government regulations or even the rules of your homeowner’s association. Either way, make sure that you clearly understand if you can run your business where you want.
- Business requirements: Almost every business requires a license of some type. Once you secure the required licenses for your business, make sure that you register your business name, get your federal tax identification number and secure any insurance that you will need.
- Space and equipment: If your business will require special space or equipment, make sure to compile a complete list of what you will need before you get started. This will eliminate the possibility of running into too many surprises as you go.
The idea for your business is to make money, not lose it. One of the ways to set yourself up for success is to minimize your up-front expenses. Yes, sometimes it is true that you have to spend money to make money. But before you know whether your business will be successful, don’t spend money that you don’t have to spend. Often, money can be saved by actively sourcing the best prices on equipment and supplies. Purchase used items in good condition if that is a possibility.
Promote and market
Now that your business is pretty well put together, make sure to share your idea with your future customers. Make sure that you put together a website, reserve your business name as an account for all social media outlets and list your business with business organizations in and around your niche. You may also need uniforms, business cards and other printed materials. Don’t forget to list your services online!
Once the word is out, get a feel for your business model and find the practices that work best for maximizing not only your income, but also your profits.
Consider additional income streams
The more financial freedom you have, the more you can do to live your life on purpose and doing what you want to do. This includes ensuring that your loved ones and you are best prepared to deal with any sort of disaster or emergency. Don’t look at building a second income stream until your first venture is successfully off the ground. But once you are successful, consider starting the process to build another stream of income to further secure your financial freedom and further facilitate your preparedness efforts.
While the best business for you may not be the same for your neighbor, here is a list of potential businesses that you could build to finance your survival:
- Event/party planning: Many people want to have events or parties but are either unwilling or too busy to put them together. If you are organized and capable and a personable individual, planning special events or parties may be for you.
- Event/party rentals: When people have parties, they often need additional or special equipment and tend to want some sort of entertainment. But it is not practical to buy a dunk tank for a onetime event, so a rental is the perfect answer. If you have storage space and the means to deliver rental equipment, you may have a good start to being in the rentals business. This can be costly, so start slow and build it from there.
- Food truck/cart: Food trucks and portable food carts are super popular right now. If you are a good cook, consider having others pay you to eat your food. Look at the possibility of renting a truck or cart to see if this business is a good fit for you.
- Farmer’s market booth: There is a lot of interest in local and organic foods. Setting up a booth at the local farmer’s market is low-cost and may provide you the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals. Some of the items that you could sell at a farmer’s market include vegetables, breads, pastries, flowers, soap, crafts and other handmade items.
- Cleaning: Not everyone wants to clean up after himself. Opportunities are always available to clean residential and commercial properties as well as when tenants move in or move out of rental property. It is even possible to network with real estate professionals and arrange to clean properties prior to being placed on the market for sale.
- Property clean-up/hauling service: The inside of the house is not all that needs cleaning. If you have a truck and/or trailer, consider offering to clean up properties and haul off the debris. This can be relatively low-cost.
- Landscaping: Only a few tools are needed to maintain the average lawn. Chances are you probably have most of these already anyway.
- Courier/errand service: This is an especially good business for assisting the elderly, those without transportation, small businesses or the handicapped.
- Virtual assistance: The Internet provides a lot of opportunities. And as more businesses establish their online presence, there is more need for assistance in posting to social media, responding to emails, etc. If you have these skills, market your services as a virtual assistant and make money without even leaving the house.
- Tutoring: Tutors are always in demand. This is especially true as students or parents look for assistance with troubling subjects. If you are good in a specific academic area, tutoring could provide additional income.
- Teaching: People always want to learn new things. You could teach classes on anything you are passionate about. Set up classes with the local community college, community center, senior center, or even take your class online and instruct virtually.
- Reseller: Buy items at thrift stores or yard sales and resell through online classifieds or auction sites.
- Moving assistance: Offer your assistance as an extra set of hands when it comes time to move those heavy items around the house or across town.
- Repair services: If you are good at fixing things, offer your services with repairing specific items. People are always looking for a good alternative to the overpriced dealer.
- Pet services: Picking up poop, walking the dog and pet sitting are all things that people don’t want to do or need help with from time to time. There are several stories of ambitious entrepreneurs who made a good income doing nothing more than scooping poop out of people’s yards.
- Sewing/clothing repair: It took me forever — and it took an actual desperate situation — before I broke down and learned how to sew a button onto a dress shirt. I am not the only one like this either. If you can sew, you can help those of us who are helpless with basic repairs.
- Technology training: There is a learning curve with every new piece of technology that comes out. If you are technically inclined, help teach others how to operate that new cellphone (you know, the one that has a screen that is the same size as your first TV?).
- Property maintenance: If you are good around the house, help others around their house. You don’t have to be a carpenter either. People will pay to have their gutters cleaned out, the toilet unclogged and the batteries changed out in the smoke detectors.
- Firewood: In cold areas of the country, there are still a good number of homes that are heated by fireplaces or wood-burning stoves that require a supply of firewood every year. If you are really good, you can get someone to pay you to haul off a tree and then turn around and sell it as firewood.
One of the keys to your success in building a business to fund your preparedness efforts is to find the right niche. It should be something that you are knowledgeable about and in demand in your area. It is always good to look for a skill that people don’t know how to do or even something that people don’t want to do. The key takeaway is that if you are willing, there is always something that you can do to make extra money to ensure your preparedness. Who knows? You may end up finding a new career.