Raising Entrepreneurs on the Homestead
I have a passion for all things entrepreneurial. I know it kind of goes against the status quo of going to college, getting a degree, and working a 9 to 5 job. That just doesn't sound very exciting to me. What excites me is hearing stories of others who have started their own businesses.
So of course I don't want my kids to think that getting a degree is the only way to make a living. If that is where God leads them, then yes, of course they should pursue it. But, before they decide on what they want to do, I want them to start their own business here on the farm. I prefer it to be farm-related as there are so many avenues they could take.
It needn't be a huge deal and I most certainly don't want them to put a lot of investment into it. But, they also know that to start a business, you have to invest. That is the risk they have to take. They also have to know that if it doesn't work, then they should be able to learn from their mistakes and keep working at it or try something else.
That's the part where I have to take a step back. I love to support them and give them advice, sometimes help them out financially(although they put the most into the business), but I have to take a step back and let them do this business that they chose. And that could mean allowing them to fail.
For example, my son was 13 at the time(that is about the time I like for them to come up with a money-making idea) and he chose to raise turkeys. The first year he raised bronze hybrids. I do believe he only got about 15 or so and lost maybe three. He wanted to sell them cheap, like Walmart cheap. So I explained to him that his turkeys are raised a heck of a lot better then the factory-farmed turkeys and that pastured ones sell for quite a bit more. We settled on a price, more expensive than Walmart yet cheaper than pastured turkeys.
His first year went well, but he realized that the hybrids grew too big and because he didn't want to keep buying them every year, he decided to raise a heritage breed. That way he could keep a tom and some hens, hatch out poults and save money. His second year was going well until he put them in the chicken tractor which was in our fenced-in garden. Our livestock guardian dogs did not have access to them and it didn't take long for a fox to come along...he lost most of his turkeys. Ouch.
That took the wind out of his sales for awhile. He had enough to sell to family and close friends, but he didn't quite get his money's worth.
One day a friend of the family asked if he could trade his older tom for a younger tom so that they could butcher it. Being naive and too nice at times and against my reservations of knowing for sure the young turkey was a tom, he said yes. Well, it wasn't a tom, it was a hen, which meant he could not hatch out eggs, which meant he would not have any turkeys for the next year.
After that bit of 'good' news, he took a year off of raising turkeys. He wanted to purchase more of the Bourbon Reds, but they are quite pricey and after his bad experiences, he did not want to put the money into it. Until this year.
He had a part time job this summer and some money saved, so he plans on getting more turkeys. Only this time he will be getting a hybrid breed and butchering them earlier. I'm glad he did not give up. He has learned from the mistakes made in the past and realizes that you win some and you lose some, but you have to keep trying.
I also encouraged my 14 year old daughter to think about ways to make a little money from the farm. She has decided to raise rare breed chickens. Right now she is diving into learning the different breeds and is quite fascinated by them all. She is also researching how others make money on rare breeds. We shall see how it goes!
My oldest daughter is in college right now, but she and I dream about what we can do once she gets her degree. She still has the entrepreneurial spirit and would love to incorporate her degree and love for autistic children into the farm and use our horses among other things.
Unless they really have a legit idea and have excellent responsibility, I do not encourage them to start a little business until they are teenagers. They just don't have the stick-to-itness when they are younger. They become too distracted, usually don't have enough money to really do it on their own, and can give up too easily at times. Then it ends up becoming the parent's business because they are the ones putting the time, money and effort into. Plus, what is that teaching the child?
I'm sure some of you have young entrepreneurs on the homestead as well. I love to listen to them dream, don't you? The farm shouldn't be a place of all work and no pay. There are so many opportunities here that can spark a creative idea and possibly a business venture.
I would love to hear what your children are doing to earn some cash on the homestead!